The Beginning

By Judy Clement Wall

On March 10th of this year, I made the final revision on the final draft of my literary novel, Beautiful Lives. Sometime before that final keystroke, as I neared the end, I told Milli, “I think I should blog the process of trying to get BL published.”

I’m not sure what made me blurt that… there may have been wine involved.

Milli didn’t bat an eye. (Or if she did, I couldn’t see it. There are several states between me and Milli.) She said, “I think you should too, on the Fear Of Writing Blog,” and just like that a series was born.

Except that after our conversation, I got a little panicky. I thought about the world of publication, with its queries and synopses and agents and editors, its pitching and branding and marketing and networking, its (and by “its” I mean “my”) inevitable rejections, heartbreak, self-doubt, late night drunken phone calls to people who once thought me sane.

How can I blog about this, I thought, right out in the open, where anyone can see?

And then I did what I always do. I made a list. (I think lists are magical, the way they impose order where none exists – in my mind.) This list was titled “Why Blog The Insanity?” and here’s what I wrote.

  1. I’m a glutton for punishment. (Part of me thinks this is not an entirely fair or accurate description of myself. Another part of me believes the evidence before her. And the last part of me is just sort of in love with the whole cognitive dissonance thing.)
  2. I believe there is power in stating my intentions aloud.
  3. If I share the journey, I won’t feel alone and that’s huge. Seriously. Huge.
  4. Writing is how I process my world. I’ve written myself through some pretty gnarly stuff. I’m guessing everyone who reads the Fear Of Writing blog has done that. So, why not write my journey to a bunch of writers, and we can all process it together, like a big publishing-quest stew?

I felt better after writing that list. So, on a roll, I wrote another, titled “What will the series include?”

  1. Ups, downs, tumbles, recoveries, faux pas, gravity-defying feats of daring, doodles, photos and, in a pinch, possibly some recipes.
  2. Advice (from you, not me).
  3. Emotional weather reports.
  4. Invitations to share – I’m likely not the only one doing this, and I’d love to hear from others on the quest.
  5. Fun.

One of the reasons I wrote Beautiful Lives was because I believe that even in our darkest moments (in fact, especially then), there is humor and beauty and love (and smiling dogs and clairvoyant commercial signage), and that these are the things that keep us moving, one painful step after another, toward the light.

So, I’ll be here twice a month, blogging the ups and downs of my quest for publication. I hope you’ll come with me. The whole thing seems way less scary with you here.


JUDY CLEMENT WALL is a Course Presenter for the Fear of Writing Online Course and co-manages the FoW blog with Milli. She has just finished her first novel, Beautiful Lives, and here, at FoW, she is chronicling her quest to find a publisher. You can read more of her work at Zebra Sounds.

33 Responses to The Beginning
  1. Julia
    Twitter: wordsxo
    April 5, 2011 | 7:03 AM

    Of all the blog posts I’ve read lately, I can relate to this one more strongly than any. Not the sharing the querying part, but that “writing is how you process the world.” After something big (or small) happens, one of the first things I think of is how I’ll write about it.

    And I LOVED this:

    “….I believe that even in our darkest moments (in fact, especially then), there is humor and beauty and love (and smiling dogs and clairvoyant commercial signage), and that these are the things that keep us moving, one painful step after another, toward the light.”

    Exactly. I recently wrote a blog about my brother’s untimely death, and that’s exactly how I felt. And yet, the day before I was writing about something funny….as you say: “humor and beauty and love.” I am so looking forward to your posts. Thank you and Milli for doing this!

    • j
      April 5, 2011 | 1:15 PM

      I went to find your post about your brother. It’s beautiful. I have a friend who has struggled his whole life with debilitating depression. Once, during a truly terrible time, he made a joke that was so strikingly bleak, I laughed in spite of myself, stunned. He said, “It’s okay to laugh. Sometimes the laugh is all you have.”

      Thank you for commenting, Julia. I promise there will be laughs.

  2. Lois
    April 5, 2011 | 10:57 AM

    I am greatly looking forward to this series. In spite of all the available articles, books, blogs, etc. about publishing, I’m still at a loss for how to go about it. My passion is writing. How do I get beyond that to editing, then querying, etc.?

    Thanks for this! ๐Ÿ˜€


    • j
      April 5, 2011 | 1:17 PM

      Yay! Whether I turn out to be a success or a cautionary tale, at least we’ll all learn something. Thank you back, Lois!

      • Lois
        April 5, 2011 | 5:19 PM

        This is true.

        And you’re welcome! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Square-Peg Karen
    Twitter: SquarePegKaren
    April 5, 2011 | 11:32 AM

    I’m looking forward to this series too! And wow – like Julia said, I LOVE the “darkest moments” sentence you wrote explaining why you wrote your novel.

    Grinning at your lists (lovely lists, btw) wondering if you, like me – lose the darn things after writing them?

    Congrats for finishing your novel – sending hopes & wishes that your Muse gets it into just the right hands (and quickly! sounds like something I would like to read yesterday — so hurry, Muse – get to it!)

    • j
      April 5, 2011 | 1:19 PM

      BIG smile. (I hope my muse is listening.)

      I’m such a constant list maker. If I lose one, I need only consult my list of where my lists are to find it. (Kidding. Mostly.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Tricia
    Twitter: Tricia_Sutton
    April 5, 2011 | 12:47 PM

    What a trailblazer, you are, to climb the treacherous, the slippery, the steep, the unknown, and to allow us inside for a glimpse. Some of us (I won’t admit who) are right behind you and are anxious. What are we getting into to? Judy will pat our hand, sit us down, and tell us.

    • j
      April 5, 2011 | 1:22 PM

      Or I’ll just jump on your coattails and ride on through to the other side. I like that plan, girlfriend. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • Tricia
        Twitter: Tricia_Sutton
        April 5, 2011 | 2:18 PM

        That’s okay, fearless first–that’s you.

  5. Marisa Birns
    April 5, 2011 | 1:04 PM

    Yes, it’s always better to go into the scary places holding hands with friends.

    And YES! So agree with you about darkest moments having the things that enable us to move forward. One of my favorite quotes – from Camus:

    “In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”

    Look forward to going with you on this journey. We’ll learn a lot together.

    • j
      April 5, 2011 | 1:24 PM

      I LOVE that quote. I’m traveling right now, but when I get back home, I’m taping it to the shelf above my computer. Thanks, Marisa.

  6. Al Riske
    April 5, 2011 | 1:15 PM

    I’m looking forward to a short series of posts with a wow finish because I know you can write, J.

    • j
      April 5, 2011 | 1:24 PM

      Dear Mr. Riske. I adore you. Love, j

  7. Michael Lockhart
    April 5, 2011 | 1:46 PM

    I’m with Al. It’s brave of you to do this (and wonderful, glorious, beautiful), but fear it may have to be ‘morphed into fiction if you expect to go beyond four posts…

    Just sayin’

    • j
      April 5, 2011 | 7:54 PM

      You’re sweet. But don’t say stuff like that. I’m superstitious. We can’t count my eggs before their broken, or some such thing. (Thank you, m!)

  8. peggi
    April 5, 2011 | 2:33 PM

    i will be honored to be here with and for you through this wonderful, frightful and successful journey!

    • j
      April 5, 2011 | 7:55 PM

      Thank you, Peggi! <3

  9. Dana
    Twitter: danapittman
    April 5, 2011 | 2:37 PM

    Your courage to share your journey warms my heart. You are exposing yourself to the elements–the good and bad of the internet and people. I look forward to reading your posts with wonder (as an author) and hopeful (as a writer trying to find my way).

    • j
      April 5, 2011 | 7:56 PM

      That’s true. So far, my net has attracted the best people. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

      • Dana
        Twitter: danapittman
        April 5, 2011 | 9:15 PM

        Will do.

  10. Milliver's Travels
    Twitter: fearofwriting
    April 5, 2011 | 7:57 PM

    What a brave, beautiful beginning!

    Despite me not not batting an eyelid from Ohio to California (that’s because I believe in you :)) I’m honored that you want to do this series on the FoW blog. Judging from the eager comments so far, I’d say you’ll well and truly be filling a hole.

    I love the part about โ€œclairvoyant commercial signageโ€! (I’m assuming that’s similar to when an animal or some other symbol appears to give me a message or to light my path. I always love that!) I know from reading past versions of your bio that it’s something from your bookโ€”and we don’t want to give too much awayโ€”but if you were to sneak in an example of that signage somewhere along the way I know it would be both enlightening and fun. Or perhaps you could do it cryptically, like planting a seed to see what sprouts.

    Can’t wait for #2 in the series.

    ~ Milli

    • j
      April 6, 2011 | 12:34 PM

      Sneaking in book snippets (signage and otherwise) is a great idea, Ms. Smarty Pants. That must be (one of the bazillion reasons) why I hang around with you. Thank you for encouraging me, and for your eyes that only bat when you’re flirting. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. catherine
    April 5, 2011 | 8:20 PM

    I really enjoyed your post and will look forward to reading them twice a month. What a great idea. And I loved the expression “Milli didn’t bat an eye.” I know what you mean…

    On your journey to publishing Beautiful Lives I wish you many happy trails to explore. And lucky us, we get to watch you doing it!

    Catherine ๐Ÿ™‚

    • j
      April 6, 2011 | 12:36 PM

      Well, Catherine, there may be some bolstering and propping that you have to do while you watch, but I promise to search high and low for the humor in the situation. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. LunaJune
    April 6, 2011 | 12:15 AM

    another wonderful place full of ‘j ‘
    I actually hate lists… except of course yours because they fill me with wonderful things to see, to participate in, etc.. whereas other lists just stare at me telling me to do things I don’t want to do LOL

    who knows… ou blogging about getting published could inspire someone who has been writing and wasn’t sure what to do or how to do it…

    onwards to getting published… you know we all can’t wait to buy and read your book…

    • j
      April 6, 2011 | 12:39 PM

      I am quite dazzling when in list mode. Even my to-do list gets written like graffiti on a wall, with doodles along the side and items such as “surprise yourself” and “dangle your feet” along side of “finish draft” and “send query.”

  13. Kenneth Hopkins
    April 6, 2011 | 1:40 AM

    Hi J,

    I love your process, and love your list. Just to let you know, I’m stealing list 1 point 3 for my message on sunday… it’s perfect. Even if it wasn’t for the message, I would steal it for me, because it is perfect for my life. Thanks for including us in this part of your life, and for inspiring us who will be going through the same process, hopefully sooner rather than later ๐Ÿ™‚

    • j
      April 6, 2011 | 12:41 PM

      The value of community, of sharing the scary and the awesome, of letting other people help… that’s all new to me too. One of my most soulful discoveries in the last couple of years of evolution.

  14. Patti Stafford
    Twitter: pattistafford
    April 6, 2011 | 1:42 PM

    Ah, you are entering the world of trench warfare, or maybe it’s jungle warfare. Kudies to you.

    I know that you already know, but just so you know…remember, Stephen King was told to give up writing. (He doesn’t listen very well.)

    …that Beatrix Potter silly rabbit Trix are for kids book was rejected numerous times.

    …and that Chicken Soul for the Soup was rejected over 120 times.

    (intentional typos, for those who don’t know I’m a “real” writer. LOL)

    So, you go kick some publishing ass, girlfriend! We will all drink wine (or vodka) (or tequila) and cheer you on. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • j
      April 6, 2011 | 9:12 PM

      Oh, Patti. You know a wine-vodka-tequilla swilling cheer leading squad is EXACTLY what I need. xoxo

  15. Patrick Ross
    Twitter: patrickrwrites
    April 6, 2011 | 3:36 PM

    Wow, J, you are way braver than I am. I’ve been opening up a bit online, but walking readers through the ups (and more often downs) of getting published, I have a hard time stating that intention aloud to all but a close few. I’ll follow this series, and root for a happy ending.

    • j
      April 6, 2011 | 9:13 PM

      And I’ll try not to be troubled by the doubt in your “voice.” ๐Ÿ˜‰ Yeah… pretty crazy. I’m like that.

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