by CK Malone

Omigosh. Imagine being a middle school teacher and a K-12 literacy coach and being unable to follow directions?

Me. Alllllllllll me. Heck, I don’t even follow the grammatical rules I was taught or teach (most of the time) when writing blog posts and the like. I’m a big fan of informal writing.

In 2019, I wrote the book of my heart. It is how I wish my coming out WOULD HAVE happened in elementary; but, alas, it did not. And guess who still didn’t follow directions when querying the agent of their dreams? Yup, you got it. I queried Dan Cramer, then at Flannery Literary, and forgot to paste my book into the email. *Face Palm* Seriously, double-check everything. That’s the one rule I think is important. Luckily, once he read the query, he was interested enough to ask for CHARLY in March of 2021.

Now, let’s rewind back to January of 2021 and Storystorm.

How did Storystorm play into this? Oh, peeps, let me tell you. I heard about this amazing month through Twitter. I was all like, “Ooooh!!! Writing a story a day sounds amazing!!! I can stop feeling stressed about the writing process and just write.”


See the mistake?

Writing a story a day sounds amazing!!!

And I did. I wrote a freaking story a day for all of January. Some were okay and some were downright atrocious. Some were middling. And some will be going on sub soon. While #Storystorm has no set “rules”, many laughed when I told them this as it wasn’t what this ah-mazing month of creativity meant.

But do you know what doing this taught me aside from the need to follow instructions?

I could persevere. There were days I came home from teaching and I felt I just couldn’t do it. But I did. I eeked out a flipping story. There were days I thought I didn’t even matter. I wrote. There were days I felt I couldn’t do any of the things anymore. I wrote. When I thought the world really flipping hated me for being me. There were days I thought this was the end of humanity because, yanno, COVID.

I wrote.

I wrote.

I wrote.

And YOU have these days because YOUR life is HARD, too. YOU have obstacles—whether emotional, physical, mental or a blend of any–and YOU are still HERE. YOU are writing.

Whatever is in your heart, your stories matter. Whether it takes 31 days in a Storystorm or just one day. Write every day if the stories flow out of you. Or write every now and then. Write once a year. Do you. There are no rules for success or storytelling.

And break the rules with your books! Some of the best authors do this all the time. I was told to edit out some of the rhymes in CHARLY since mash-ups of techniques won’t be “tolerated”, and these same rhymes ended up being my editor’s favorite parts.

So break some rules during your process and blaze your own trail as only YOU can.

Much Love and Light,

C.K. Malone (they/them) is a bigender educator and literature coach at the secondary level. When not grading essays or helping students, they’re busy helping design culturally and LGBTQIA+ responsive units for the district and working as a climate and culture coach. When they’re not writing, they’re coaching and advising through alignment with the Genders and Sexualities Alliance Network. Their book A COSTUME FOR CHARLY with Illos by Alejandra Barajas (Beaming Books) is out now. Their next book, A SIMPLE SONG, with Illos by Shelly Swann releases with Beaming Books in Fall ‘24. Visit CK at and follow them on Twitter @CKMalone2.

CK is giving away:

  • Ask Me Anything Session with myself and my agent Dan, founder of Page Turner Literary (30 minutes): 1 winner
  • Critique of a Fiction PB up to 2,000 words with multiple revisions (just me): 2 winners
  • CHARLY Signed Prize bundle of book and LGBTQ+ Items + A surprise book not by me: 3 winners

You’re eligible to win if you’re a registered Storystorm 2023 participant and you have commented only once on today’s blog post. ↓

Prizes will be distributed at the conclusion of Storystorm.