When does Julie Clark find the time to do literally anything? The question rears its head multiple times during a conversation with the multi-hyphenate mother. Clark, the 20-year Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District veteran, took a moment during her fairly regimented day to talk about being a teacher-mom-breast-cancer-survivor and fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming an author.
“It’s been many years in the making,” Clark says in a phone call during her lunch, sandwiched between class periods where she teaches at Roosevelt elementary. “I think fifth grade was when I first realized I wanted to be a writer.”
Time—Clark’s free time, specifically—is sacrificed during the conversation, but Clark’s relationship with time has always been a fickle one: long-gestating and cordial in Clark’s path to being published, yet punishing in its rigors so she may support her creative endeavors.
With wide-eyed dreams of becoming an author in grade school, it wasn’t until she was in her 40’s that Clark attempted to write her first book. “My kids were older and independent enough and I thought, what else do I want to do? People say, ‘I have no time to write a book,’ but writing just two hours a day can get you a whole book in a matter of months.”
A single mother of boys-slowly-becoming-men (now ages 9 and 12), Clark found time for her creativity while the moon was the only thing awake, with a schedule that would make anyone wince.
Between 3:45 a.m. – 6 a.m., Clark would write.“It’s early and tough, but I do it. No-one’s up at 3:45 in the morning, I have zero interruptions,” she said.
Then, she’d get ready for work, teach from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., and after that, parent her boys until bedtime. Even after the brutal cycle, Clark would still write on weekends.
The newly-minted author says the rigid time-management allowed her to finish her work without the specter of You Should Be Writing! haunting her throughout the day. She does note, however, that to maintain such a schedule, she goes to bed “very, very early.”
“I haven’t had much of a social life in many years because of it,” she says, “but I’m a born introvert, so it’s not the worst thing.”
For the forthcoming release of her first book ‘The Ones We Choose’, Clark maintains similar hours, this time with the added promotion and marketing that comes with releasing your very first book. Being a working teacher, she says, helps bring balance to her life.
“When I’m writing, I’m spacey,” she says. “I’m in my head, not paying attention to what’s going on around me … but when I’m at school, I get to work and engage. I’m planning, teaching, talking with kids, and joking with them. The two jobs complement each other well.”
The balance helped Clark craft her first novel in 2013, which the author says “wasn’t very good and wasn’t going anywhere.”
However, she whittled away and continued creating. After a bout with breast cancer (which she’s since overcome), she cracked the plot for ‘The Ones We Choose’. She sold the book in 2017, with a story a press release describes as an “exploration of the genetic and emotional ties that bind.”
With an upcoming appearance at Diesel bookstore to promote her novel, (in the city she grew up, teaches in, and still lives in, no less) Clark and her neverending work ethic haven’t considered stopping. “There’s always a sense of moving forward,” she says. Already at work on her next book, she’ll continue her cycle of write, raise kids, teach repeat. Maybe the teacher-mother-breast-cancer-survivor can celebrate the release of her first book– if she could only find the time.