A Story's Wake Up Call: Jen Cervantes

About two weeks ago I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned with this story idea rolling around in my head. The harder I tried to push it away, the harder it hammered away at me.

The idea: Get up.
Me: Go away—I’m tired!
The idea: Write this down
Me: I DON’T write YA
The idea: Get up NOW.
Me: I CAN’T write YA
The idea: Trust me.
I pulled myself out of bed at 4 a.m. (did I mention I am so not a before dawn riser?) I flicked on my computer and let the story take control while my hands went to work on the keyboard. What happened next was one of those magical moments we experience as writers where everything falls into place and you look at the page and your words and wonder where they came from. I didn’t lift my hands once from the keyboard until I’d written 9 pages! I reread what I was sure would be gibberish and was stunned to find a quiet beauty in the prose, a voice so unlike anything I had ever brought to the page. Sure there was lots of polishing to do, but the bones were there. I leaned into the sofa and sighed, feeling a deep appreciation for the creative spirit we bring to our stories when we are willing to cast aside fear and listen.

I was working on an MG at the time as well and as I shook out my tired hands, I told myself—one of them has to go.  I can’t work on both. It would be crazy to try, right? I was afraid I would leave something behind if I worked on the YA and yet to put it aside felt wrong too. So I ventured into new territory again, pushing my way through another wall of resistance, mostly fear. It has been an exhilarating two weeks, more productive than most months and I am certain it’s because I let go. And let the story take me where it wants to, even if it means a wake up call at 4 a.m.


  1. Such a valuable lesson, Jen--to listen to that inner voice. Good for you that you listened and got to have that magical experience!

  2. I LOVE this post--and the experience of being grabbed by a story that won't let me go.


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