I still remember the day my fifth grade teacher told me that I would be a novelist. I was so excited to learn that that was a job grown up could have. I ran all the way home, three and half whole blocks, to share the good news with my mother. Well, it’s been a long journey but a great one. With many ups and downs, aggravations, and joys. Truthfully, I never thought it would be as hard as it is. If someone had tried to warn me that I would be writing novels for decades without finishing one, I don’t know if I would have believed them. No way would it take that long to tell a good story well! Apparently for me, it does take that long.
For more than two decades, while I have been busy honing my skills as a storyteller and writer, I have raised a family, tried my hand as a business owner and life coach, earned two degrees, ran a few 10ks, worked, played, and laughed often. While in college, I wrote a column, “Connections,” for the school quarterly newsletter, had a few flash-fiction stories published including “Routine Persuasion” and “The Letter,” and a few articles in small upstart Denver magazines including “Organizing for the Soul” and “Ask J,” an advice column.
When writing articles and columns, I write in bursts. Clean them up as I go. Get it to the point that I say, that’s good and I’m done. With fiction, I like to write fast and messy, from the beginning of a story to the end. I write to exhaustion without editing. Once the story has reached its end, I let it bake. I work on other projects and occasionally make notes about the story that I know is incomplete and need of theme, back-story, and well-contemplated setting descriptions. After a sufficient amount of time, I pick up the work and read it. I may begin to make some editorial changes but more often than not, I don’t do much more than add notes to the printed draft. Then I allow it to bake some more. I won’t pick it up again until the first line comes to me or the first scene. Once I have that new start in place, I will begin the second full draft. Afterwards, I repeat the process again. There might be an easier way to write a novel but this is the pattern I’ve developed over the years. I am working on a new organized outline process for the fourth or fifth draft with hopes that this will get me to a finished product I am proud to share with others. My main goal is to always be writing – something.
I have learned I am a deadline-oriented human being and until an editor, teacher, or agent puts a deadline on a story I suppose I will continue to edit it. I almost have regrets about the way I’ve put other things in front of my writing goals. But those distractions, were for the most part, positive distractions.
As an aspiring writer, I remember pulling down every book I owned in my library and looking at information about the authors. Each and every author had a degree. Most had graduate degrees. This occurred during a time when I had given up writing. I had given it up because I never sent any material out for publication. It seemed silly to spend so much time doing something just to fill up a file cabinet of stories no one would ever read. Inspired by the discovery of educated authors, I started the first rumblings about going to college. I thought it was silly for someone my age, 37 then, to even think about spending the time, money, and energy to go to school. Then my husband, sons, family, and friends encouraged me to do it. I applied. They accepted me and over the course of seven years, I completed my BA, magna cum laude.
One of my proudest achievements was earning that degree at the University of Denver. As a Colorado native, I was familiar with the campus but never thought I would have a personal connection to it. As a mother with two sons, I would drive by the beautiful campus and ache that I never went to college after high school. Within six months of my graduation, I was back in class earning a graduate degree.
I put my novel-writing on the back burning a bit while attending school from 2001-2011. But, I worked on a novel steadily during the first few years. When my computer crashed in 2004, I lost the work. I had never printed one page of it or backed it up. So, stupid to think I could do that, I know, I don’t even remember why I wouldn’t print any of the pages but it seems to me there was a reason at the time. It really was a devastating blow. Wish I could say I learned from this mistake, but I lost all my electronic copies of work when another computer crashed. Retyping an entire novel was very educational I will say. Now I print and back-up regularly and share my horror with others in hopes that they wont have to suffer the same fate. Anyway, I did produce some short stories during my fun years at DU and as I stated early had some small venue publishing success. Currently, with my education behind me, my children out of the coop, my current freedom from full-time employment, I am making writing a major focus in my day-to-day life.
To learn more about my projects visit my website: juliecordova.com