February 2nd, 2007

Ten years ago today, two very important things happened.

One: my dog was born.

Two: I joined a teen writing website hosted by Scholastic called Write It.

You could say that one of these things alone was the best thing to ever happen to me, because they’ve both shaped me and saved me in so many ways. But the combination of the two, by far, makes February 2nd, 2007 a particularly notable day for me. And now here we are, in 2017, ten years later, and so much of what has dominated my life over the past decade can be traced back to that day.

Of course I didn’t know anything particularly important was happening on February 2nd, 2007. I just happened to join a new website; a few months later I’d meet my best friend at my thirteenth birthday party and she’d just so happen to have been born February 2nd as well.

I think everyone knows how much I love my dog. (And how much it sucks to have to be away from her—which is ironic, since the having-to-be-away thing was caused by joining Write It. More on that later.) But fewer people probably know about the thousands of hours I logged on Write It throughout my middle and high school years. And how much the friendships we forged and the stories we crafted and the dreams we ignited on there made me who I am today.

I’d always wanted to be a writer, but it was Write It that got me to sit down and actually write my first novel. It was Write It that taught me about NaNoWriMo (which I’ll be celebrating a different ten year anniversary with, this November). It was on Write It that I learned there was such a thing as being a Creative Writing major, and it was on Write It that I learned about revising and publishing, and it was on Write It that I got my first taste of critiquing novels and organizing events. It was on Write It that I first found people who felt like me.

It’s no wonder, taking this all into consideration, that it was wanting to meet my friends on Write It that gave me the idea for the Chapter One Young Writers Conference—and now look at us. (We were in Writer’s Digest last year! Our keynote speaker was a New York Times bestseller!) And because Write It gave me the confidence to pursue a Creative Writing major, I ended up at a dream university, studied abroad at Oxford, interned in New York, received highest honors on my creative writing honors thesis, completed the Columbia Publishing Course UK—and most importantly: I met some of the best friends I will ever be lucky enough to have.

My senior year of college, I was a regional judge for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. We used to call them the “SAWAs” on Write It. (Fun fact: the Write It writing forums were founded with the purpose of preparing kids to enter the SAWAs.) I thought at the time that I had finally come full circle. From kid-entering-the-SAWAs to judge. I thought, This is what February 2nd was leading to.

One year later, though, and I see now what full circle really looks like. Because I now work at Scholastic. (I mean, I’m an editorial intern. But still.) And I found out about this job because a friend had a job at Scholastic, and she recommended me. And I know this friend because she’s a member of the Ch1Con team. And Ch1Con was founded, originally, by members of the Scholastic’s Write It community. And on and on and on—it all leads back to that day.

Looking back on the past ten years, I don’t know how they could have turned out any other way. Because clearly this was the right course of events. Clearly the dominoes lined up just right to lead me here. (When I was twelve, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I’m really, really happy that, thanks to joining Write It, I did not become a veterinarian.)

So, here we are: ten years ago today, I was a pretentious twelve-year-old idiot who had no idea who she was or who she wanted to be. But she knew she liked to write. She was dreaming of New York City and meeting authors—and, yes, the chance she might someday get a puppy.

Today, February 2nd, 2017, I am a sentimental twenty-two-year-old idiot who’s still figuring out who I am, but who knows exactly who I want to be. I still like to write. I’m living in New York City, now. I work with authors every day. And today is my puppy’s tenth birthday.

I might not have ended up where I meant to go, but I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. So here’s to February 2nd, 2007. Here’s to Twelve-Year-Old Julia. Here’s to the days that shape us (and save us).

And here’s to February 2nd, 2017. I can’t wait to see where we go from here.


NaNo Day 24: Home for the Holiday

Hey there! Just popping in today to say I’m now on break for Thanksgiving (although I still have a paper due tomorrow) and I am exhausted and I am about to go curl up with my dog and go to sleep early.

Clearly, no writing today. But once the work I need to get done tomorrow is, you know, done, hopefully I’ll get a chance to log a few thousand words.

Happy almost Thanksgiving!

Goal for Today: 0 + 3,000 (from yesterday)

Overall Goal: 39,000

Current Word Count: 37,027


Sammy Loses “Crazy Dog”

First off, I’m SO sorry for not posting this weekend. I was even thinking about doing it for the majority of Saturday and Sunday, and then it just slipped my mind at the end there. Feel free to come after me with torches and pitchforks.

(Although I’m likely to give you the face below if you do that,  and I’m pretty sure I can wilt flowers with it, so hey–the decision is yours.)


But anyway, onto today’s topic.

For anyone who doesn’t know, I have a dog. And her name is Sammy. And she’s a girl, despite popular opinion about the fact that, at first glance, she both looks and acts like a boy.

Here’s a picture:

Totally gorgeous and feminine, right? I have no idea where people get the idea about her being Samuel instead of Samantha.

So, because of the fact that Sammy is my dog, and she lives with my family, she of course has a lot of health problems. After all, she has to fit in with the rest of us, right? So she’s allergic to a bunch of stuff and therefore requires special food (she’s basically a pescetarian at this point, for anyone who wants to know) (I’m looking at you, Hero). And she had to get surgery done on her eyes a couple years back. And she’s constantly having ear infections. Aaand she has knee and back problems.

Which brings us to this weekend. Sammy aggravated her back and one of her legs while playing Friday night, and by Saturday morning she was in so much pain that I had to carry her into the vet office, because she couldn’t take a step without yelping (and mind you, this dog weighs like 35 points–I weigh 90 and am 0% muscle–it wasn’t the prettiest of sights). After taking lots of x-rays and such, the vet came to the conclusion that Sammy’s resident knee and back problems are a lot worse than we previously thought, and she’s now going to have to be on two different types of medicines for the rest of her life, along with no longer being allowed to run, jump, or play.

Basically: My five year old Beagle just got sent to permanent bed rest.

If you know Sammy–or really, any Beagle in general–you know that “permanent bed rest” isn’t really a viable option.

Last night, just a day after her whole ordeal with the vet (during which they knocked her out and drugged her up and stuck her with acupuncture needles–fun times), she was begging me to play with her like usual. She grabbed her favorite tug-of-war rope and followed me around with it, tossing her head back and forth to try to make it look appealing, and wriggling her butt like a belly dancer every time I so much as glanced out the corner of my eye at her.

And I couldn’t play with her. I couldn’t. Because as much as it hurts her not to get played with, it would hurt her worse if I did play with her. Even without playing with her, she couldn’t make it up the stairs last night because she was hurting so badly again, and I had to carry her up to bed.

Life’s going to be really different for Sammy, now. She’s always been very active, going on long walks with my dad and playing fetch up and down the stairs with me. She’s always up for a game of tug-of-war, or for “wrestling,” or just for anything, really.

Sammy’s favorite thing in the whole world is a game my family calls “Crazy Dog.” It usually happens when there are a lot of people over, or right after she comes home from a walk, or when she’s still wet from a bath. She’ll all of a sudden just go nuts with excitement, galloping around the house–tearing around corners and sliding across the hardwood. She likes it best when someone’s chasing her while she does it, and if she senses that you’re getting tired and thinking of sitting down, she’ll flop over on the floor and stare at you until, coughing for air, you approach her. And then–right as you’re reaching out a hand to pet her–she flings herself up and starts running again. And you have no choice but to go after her again.

She can do that for a half hour straight, and then all of a sudden she’ll just be calm again, and she’ll fall asleep, snoring on top of your feet. She’s never as happy as when she’s doing Crazy Dog.

Sammy can’t do Crazy Dog, anymore. I can’t tell her why she can’t do it, or make her understand. She just can’t. It’s against the vet’s orders to do that sort of activity. (Heck, she’s not even supposed to be doing stairs, only it’s not an option with how our house is set up.)

So obviously, this is a profoundly sad time for Sammy. She can’t understand why I won’t grab her tug-of-war rope when she nuzzles my hand with it. She can’t understand why I won’t chase after her anymore when she starts running.

So much of Sammy–so many parts of her–are made up of the things she does when she’s active.

It’s going to take some time now to figure out who my dog is without Crazy Dog.

If anybody knows anything that would be fun to do with Sammy that doesn’t involve a whole lot of activity (no twisting or jumping or anything else that would put stress on her back and knees), feel free to share your ideas in the comments. Thanks!