Monday, December 16, 2013

You Can Write That Book

by Stephanie Morrill

Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and the Ellie Sweet books (Playlist). You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and check out samples of her work on her author website.

Connor fast asleep in the wagon after his MRI
Many of you who are on the Facebook group or who saw my comment on my post from last Monday already know that my family has been through a rough week.

Last Monday, as my family was sitting around the dinner table, my three-year-old son, Connor, had his third seizure. One second he was himself - joking, laughing, eating - and the next he was not. It was another forty-five minutes before the seizure stopped with the help of magical ER meds.

We had anticipated a normal night around the house, and instead the evening involved an ambulance ride and a cozy room at the local childrens hospital that became our home for two nights. An EEG, an MRI, and two seizures later, we're finally home and playing the trial-and-error game with the dosage of Connor's medicine.

And to make matters extra interesting, there was little time to ease back into normal life since McKenna turned 6 over the weekend, and a birthday party and sleepover were already in the works. The last week has been a very strange mix of IVs, baking, throw-up, and decorating.
McKenna and her best friend, Ellery, at Fritz's celebrating McKenna's 6th birthday

All that to say, I'm exhausted. More exhausted than I've ever been. And you'll have to forgive me that I just don't have it in me to write a full-on post for today. I'm so grateful to Shannon Dittemore who stepped up to take over last Friday. What a lady.

If you already subscribe to the Go Teen Writers newsletter, you would have seen this a couple weeks ago. If not, I hope you enjoy it. I know that after this week, I needed the reminder all over again:

Yes, You Can Write That

So there's this guy I know. Let's call him Dave. 

Dave is older than me by quite a bit. He's a big reader, and he's very creative, but he's never been interested in telling stories.

Until he had The Idea.

You know the kind of story idea I'm talking about. One that won't leave you alone, that your mind drifts to when you're riding in the car or washing your hair.

If you've been writing for a while, The Idea commonly makes you run for your computer because you can't wait to start working.

But if the writing thing is new to you ... or if you're in a season of doubt ... or if you never really thought of yourself as A Writer, then The Idea is more likely to make you want to give your computer a wide berth.

"I'm not qualified to write this book, am I?...Someone else should really do it. I'll probably just make a mess of it...Would anyone even want to read about this?...What if I write it, and nobody wants to look at it?"

So many questions. And no guarantees. No tidy answers.

Dave asks me what he should do first. He's been thinking about The Idea for a while now, so I suggest he work on his major characters. That he write up a character analyses of sort. 

"On your blog, I've seen you talk about action beats and dialogue tags." Dave looks nervous. "I had never even thought about that kind of stuff."

"You don't have to think about that kind of stuff yet," I tell him. "Try to just focus on the characters and the story."

He asks about POV and I make the mistake of trying to explain the difference between omniscient and third. It's a good reminder to me that crafting a novel is HARD WORK. There's a reason that not everybody who wants to write a book actually writes a book. Even still:

"I believe you can write this book," I try to tell Dave a few times. I've said the same thing to a lot of writers on Go Teen Writers or in classes I've taught. I say it because I think it's true. And because there are times when people need to borrow someone else's belief.

Some days, I just plain don't believe anymore. Not in the story, not in myself, and not in the calling I've always felt to be a writer. During those times, I've borrowed belief from others. From my husband, my agent, my editor, my best friend. I need to borrow their belief in me for a moment - or two - until I find mine again.

I don't know where you are in your writing journey. I'm in kind of a funky place, to be honest. The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet released just a month ago, and after a year of my brain being full of Ellie, I'm asking, "So...what's next?"

My writing goal this Christmas season is to get my story groove back. I've been doing marketing and promotions and all that crazy fun stuff, and now I'm ready to get some face time with the story churning around my heart. One that feels a bit too scary, a bit too big, and a lot exciting. I want to write without dwelling on how I would market it or who would buy it. I want to write simply because it brings me joy to do so, and that's reward enough.

I hope this December you can find a way to write with joy and freedom. With confidence that you are successful the moment your pen touches the page.

Because you are.


  1. That's great that he's better. And oh yes, my family has had a good time watching the trains serve your orders at Fritz, great place for a birthday.
    Thanks for the post!

  2. Oh it's so good to hear the little one is feeling better. It's always a wrench in the works when a little one gets ill.
    I have felt the same way balancing trying to market two new books with writing another. Because I'm a new author and not well known - yet - I'm trying to find ways to get my books out there. What a fun and inspiring book it would be to write about the chaos and cakes days a mom deals with


  3. Wow, I didn't see that comment! I'm so glad he's doing better. I know how crazy that can be, and scary. OF COURSE we forgive you, and that post from the newsletter was so awesome I totally don't mind reading it again. ;)

    Here's a huge hug for your whole family!

  4. I'm glad he's doing better and that you are home now! Don't worry about the blog, just try to breath a little and take care of Connor. :-)

  5. Thanks for understanding, guys. It means a lot :)

  6. I'm glad to hear that Connor is all right again, and a happy belated birthday to McKenna. As for the post, I've read it, but I loved it. Very inspirational

  7. That's good that he's doing better! Best wishes for your family, hope everything goes okay. :)

  8. So glad to hear that Connor's better!! How scary!
    How I love this post that you posted! Yes, I have indeed already read it in the newsletter, but it will be worth rereading when i lose the email...

  9. I have been praying for you and your family. I'm so sorry you've had to face this. I'm sure it must be scary and frustrating. If I lived in, well, you know, the same timezone as you, you'd be getting lasagna and homemade cookies from me right now.
    ~Sarah Faulkner

    1. I've seen the food you pin on Pinterest. Makes me want to move up north :)

  10. Oh wow, Stephanie! I'm glad to hear Connor is better!!!!!
    Take your time with the posts here! I haven't been on GTW for very long only a few months, so if I want to I'll reread old posts until you're rested up. :)

  11. Praying for you and your family, Stephanie!

  12. Thank you for this! And thank you for posting through all of the turmoil in your life. I hope things get back to normal soon.

  13. My christmas goal is to finish nearly all of my edits and hit 30k in my novel.

  14. I know exactly how Connor feels. Poor guy. Only I was in the hospital for a couple months, not days. So glad he is doing better! Will be praying!
    Don't dare worry about us, we can wait. Although it might be hard. :)

  15. I'll be praying for you guys, and I'm really sorry about what happened...

    Tabby (

  16. Stephanie,
    I've been praying for you and your family. Thanks for the update. I hope Connor feels better very soon.
    Happy belated birthday to McKenna!
    I loved my December newsletter! You wrote this so beautifully; it was really encouraging. Thank you!
    Hang in there!

  17. From Amo Libros:
    SEIZURE?! 8O Is he alright now? Is there anything you need us to do? Kind of hard over the internet, but anything? Ask for fewer posts or something? Step in and do some things our selves? We'll be praying for you!!!
    And I hope you have a happy, seizure-free Christmas!!!

  18. Sometimes it's nice to hear that other writers, especially published ones, feel the same. We all experience doubt but we need to pull ourselves out of it and carry on.

  19. I'm so glad that you're all home and that Connor is on the mend. Sending big hugs your way--and happy belated birthday to Mckenna as well!

  20. I'm so sorry, it's scary when things like that happen. I know someone who went through that as well, I'll pray for you guys and wish McKenna another belated happy birthday.


  21. How is Connor? Hope he is OK. I'll be praying.
    Thanks so much for the encouragement. Today I read a few of the "Ask the Editor" posts and got discouraged that it was so hard. Out of all the book proposals out there, why would someone want mine? So, thanks for this post.

    1. Sadly, he's not great. He continues to have seizures, and we'll be heading into the hospital next week for a 72 hour test that will hopefully provide some answers.

      I understand the discouragement. It plagues me too at times. I'm glad this post helped balance it out!