Just When I Thought I'd Graduated.....Jane Kelley

It's back to school for me.

I thought I had "graduated." Surely after writing for years and having many novels published, writing the next one should be easy. Or if not easy, then easier, right?

(Actually this is my daughter's college graduation.)

This isn't just because of a common misconception.

Writing a novel is messy because the creative process is incomprehensible. Whether you are a plotter or a pantser, I guarantee that your best writing will surprise you. If the reader marvels at how you came up with that fresh idea, then probably you do too.

Does that mean that we are forever doomed to being a new kid with lots to learn? Where's the bathroom? What are the teacher's pet peeves? Who's the bully? Who will be your friend?

Yes. Every novel presents its own challenges. Every novel requires you to learn how to write all over again. I remember, shortly after my first novel was published, being devastated when I heard Katherine Paterson say that. (Yes, KATHERINE PATERSON.)

Can't I learn from any of my mistakes? I've made so many. Aren't they good for something?

I sure hope so. Today, I stare at Draft Three of Version Two. My goal was to write a humor MG novel. Somehow or other it's become a gritty, poignant examination of what it means to dream. To be honest, I don't know what to do with it....except start over.

So it's back to school for me.

Actually a few lessons are still relevant.

1. Show up at your desk. There's no substitute for doing the work.

2. Lay down a foundation. Those beautifully surprising inspirations need to attach to a structure.

3. Have confidence. Students who are told they're smart do better at tests.

4. Find ways to have fun.

Yes I need to learn new things. But I know I can. Starting school again just means I have another chance.


  1. What's a 'pantser'? love, WendyRat.

    1. A 'pantser' is an abbreviation for one who writes from 'the seat of one's pants' -- following instinct rather than making an outline. Personally I try to do both.

  2. Perfect description of a writer's life.

  3. This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information... Graduate Employment


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