Writing in Pajamas
For Brownies working on their My Family Story badge and Juniors working on their Scribe badge, Julie Sternberg wants you to think about this: “Have you ever had a grown-up in your life who does things just the way you like them?” she asks. “Maybe your grandma knows how to make macaroni and cheese exactly the way you like it, or maybe your dad does the best voices when he reads to you before bedtime.” If you have someone in mind, Julie suggests that you share your story about that person and the things they do that make them so special.
Collecting and sharing stories this way is exactly how Julie became a writer. The Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie author remembers sitting at her grandmother’s table, eating the best homemade butter cookies ever, and listening to stories about her life. “She’d grown up in Germany and then sailed for America with her three kids when my dad was just a baby,” Julie recalls. “Her family had owned a store in Germany; and when she and my grandfather settled in America, they opened a store too. Her stories shaped how I thought about my family and my world.”
Stories and books shaped Julie’s childhood and even inspired her first career. “My reading obsession began with The Secret Garden, the story of a mean-spirited and miserable orphan named Mary, whose life changes when she starts roaming the outdoors,” Julie recalls. “While reading it, I decided to spend more time outdoors myself.” But Julie’s life didn’t change quite the way Mary’s did. “Mosquitoes landed on my neck. It was hot,” Julie explains. “I went back inside, with my book, to a cozy chair and central air-conditioning.”
When Julie grew up and decided to go to law school, she had Atticus, a wise and decent lawyer from the book To Kill a Mockingbird in mind. “I liked being a lawyer for a while,” she admits, “but then I started writing. And all I wanted to do was write.”
Julie loves writing so much that she eagerly shares tips for girls who want to write, such as buying pajamas—because it’s fun to write in your pj’s. She advises against listening to depressing music when trying to write a happy scene, or happy music when writing a depressing one. Most of all, Julie says to not be afraid of your work being rejected. “Say this five times every day: ‘Some people won’t like my stories. I don’t care.’ Because no matter how good you are, you’ll get some bad reviews. Rejection is a part of writing. You have to be tough!”
Find out more about Julie’s books and her delightful advice for young writers on The Studio.