Diaries Magazine

Inspired by Literary Grannies: B is for Beverly Cleary - Writing Rule Breaking Anyone?

Posted on the 01 April 2015 by Juliejordanscott @juliejordanscot

Beverly Cleary

Let's consider her quote again:

“I don't necessarily start with the beginning of the book. I just start with the part of the story that's most vivid in my imagination and work forward and backward from there.”

 Beverly Cleary

 I was roughly twenty-six or twenty-seven years old, working at a convention for English teachers. I wandered through the many exhibitors and came upon a completely normal looking woman sitting at a table alone.

 This was Beverly Cleary, writer of some of my favorite books to check out of the Glen Ridge Library. I could still walk to wear they were held in that luscious smelling room filled with books, books and more books. I loved Ramona and her sister Beezus. I could read of them every day, all day and sometimes I did.

 I was shocked to find this beloved woman at the conference.

 I was even more shocked she was so - well - ordinary, and that no one was making a fuss over her. I chatted with her for a few moments and wasn’t amazed by what she said so I was even more confused when I went back to the booth of the publisher who employed me.

 I didn’t mention her to my co-workers.

 I’ve never mentioned it to anyone until right this moment.

 She was an extraordinary woman who, at the onset, appeared so very ordinary. I know from reading her books she is remarkable and memorable.

 I wish the much younger me had been more bold and spent more time with her.

 I wish I could have a more vivid, lively story to tell you about her, but I realize in this writing that what I offer here may be exactly what she was pointing to - that every ordinary moment holds within it something extraordinary.

Prompts for Contemplation:

 How does Beverly Cleary’s concept of not starting from the beginning free you from any “rules of writing” you may have held sacred?

 What is the most vivid part of your story (fiction, non-fiction, script, etc) so far?

 Sentence starters:

 The most extraordinary ordinary thing I can think of is…

 My most vivid memory from childhood is….

 Day in review questions:

One thing I noticed that surprised me today was….

 Tomorrow I will be more aware of…

 Today I am grateful I….

 Tomorrow I intend to….


 In my research I found a walking tour of Beverly Cleary’s hometown, including a sculpture garden, in suburban Portland, Oregon. Why not make it a part of your next trip to the Pacific Northwest?

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This blog post is a part of April's Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Visit here daily in April to be inspired by literary grannies across time.


Julie Jordan Scott inspires people to experience artistic rebirth via her programs, playshops, books, performances and simply being herself out in the world.  She is a writer, creative life coach, speaker, performance poet, Mommy-extraordinaire and mixed-media artist  whose Writing Camps and Writing Playgrounds permanently transform people's creative lives. Watch for the announcement of new programs coming in Spring, 2015 and beyond.

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