The Manuscript in the Drawer Might be Your Best Teacher

The first book I ever wrote lives in a drawer. I learned a lot from writing it. I learned how fun it was to sit with an idea and think “What next?” To put myself inside the mind of people of my own invention and realize I could have them say or do anything…and then watch the fallout. I learned that I didn’t know anything about plot, or pacing, or giving characters their own distinct voice.


Was it wasted time? Absolutely not. That book taught me a lot about what I didn’t know, and if I hadn’t tried to put it out into the world, I wouldn’t have learned what I needed to learn to publish The Ones We Choose. That book taught me that a great idea can go a long way, but that it doesn’t have to be my only great idea. That I could do it again, and do it better.


My advice to writers just starting out is to not attach yourself too much to your first book. Develop it. Workshop it. Query it. But always keep in the back of your mind the belief that it won’t be your only book. Your dreams of publishing do not rest solely on that document, on those pages. If you stay open, other ideas — better ideas! — will come to you.


I haven’t opened that document in a few years. I made the decision to move on a long time ago. I’m not sure I’ll ever look back at it, or consider revising it for publication. That book served a purpose, and I’m moving forward to other things. I’m glad I wrote it, and I’ll never forget the feeling I got from typing “The End” for the very first time. That book taught me that I could do it.


And that belief is all you need to publish. That and a ton of grit and perseverance and faith. No effort is wasted effort.


The Ones We Choose is available!



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Author: Julie Clark

Born and raised in Santa Monica, California, Julie Clark grew up reading books on the beach while everyone else surfed. After attending college at University of the Pacific, and a brief stint working in the athletic department at University of California, Berkeley, she returned home to Santa Monica to teach. She now lives there with her two young sons and a golden doodle with poor impulse control. Her debut, THE ONES WE CHOOSE, will be published by Gallery/Simon & Schuster in May 2018.