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It Didn't Start Out That Way Home What They Say About Judy Media
Shut Up & Write! Demystifies the process of writing with
easy-to-access tools, instruction, examples,
and inspiration.
Redbird Studio Main Website





Publisher: Hidden Timber Books
ISBN‏: ‎ 978-1-7365519-6-7
249 pages
Perfect Paperback

What They Say

Like the best memoirists, Judy Bridges writes with such candor, humor and clarity that I felt like I was going through life with her instead of reading about it.
Christina Clancy, author of:
The Snowbirds, Shoulder Season, and The Second Home
Beautifully wrought and richly detailed, It Didn’t Start Out That Way tells the story of love, loss, and resilience as experienced by one of Wisconsin’s favorite daughters, the woman who founded Redbird Studio writing center and nurtured countless authors — Judy Bridges. From idyllic summers spent Up North with her grandmother to the unsettling impact of her parents’ divorce on her childhood to surviving an abusive first husband and mustering the strength to move on, this is memoir at its finest — searingly poignant one moment, irreverently humorous the next, and always emotionally honest.
Jeannee Sacken, Award-Winning Author of the Annie Hawkins Series:
Behind the Lens, Double Exposure, and The Rule of Thirds
With her characteristic compassion and wisdom Judy Bridges takes us on a frank and intimate journey through her life. She reveals how creative writing saves and rewards us, how it helps us wrest meaning from lived experience. Sometimes poignant, always illuminating, her insights will resonate with those who endeavor to live an examined life — a writer's life.
Shauna Singh Baldwin, author of:
The Selector of Souls, The Tiger Claw, and What the Body Remembers
Judy Bridges' students have been waiting for this book. It is everything we knew it would be, and more than imagined. These stories are told with candor, heart, and humor when appropriate; quiet rage when deserved. This memoir is layered. On the one hand, it is a recollection and reflection of a life. Bridges makes you see people you have never met, yet feel you have. On the other hand, and even more magically, it shows how a writer transforms a life into art. On my bookshelf is Judy's "Shut Up And Write", an instructional book on the craft of writing. Next to it is a space for "It Didn't Start Out That Way", the master's example.
Sharon Nesbit-Davis, author of:
With vivid detail and graceful prose, Bridges takes the reader’s hand and leads them through a life well lived. From a childhood navigating two different households in two different states to her quest to find a sense of home, in place and in a partner — plus beautiful tributes to the relatives who shaped her along the way — this book sings with resilience and love.
Kim Suhr, author of:
Nothing To Lose
If you’re drawn to captivating stories (and who isn’t!), consider yourself very fortunate to encounter Judy Bridges’ memoir, packed with a lifetime of vividly described adventures, mindful observations, challenges, heartbreaks, celebrations, shared in riveting detail, akin to a cinematic rooming house bursting at the seams with fascinating characters of all kinds. Within the first few pages, I felt blessed that Judy invited me into her living room, where I wanted to stay and stay.
Harvey Taylor:
Milwaukee Icon, Storyteller in song and poem. Author of lines like, “What If Birds Remember You In Their Prayers?” and of over 50 books of poetry
Legendary writing coach Judy Bridges is at the top of her game in this beautiful memoir, with deft writing that manages to be both rich and lean at the same time. She invites the reader to jump on a roller coaster of her own life’s journey — a ride filled with engaging stories, vivid characters, and the kind of hard-earned wisdom one gains from living an authentic life.
Anne Rooney:
Global Healthcare Consultant. Frequent contributor of articles on life and political issues to publications such as American Writers Review, newspapers, and Ms. Magazine.
Judy’s voice is so appealing, you’ll feel like she’s your best friend, one who is smart, funny, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. In It Didn’t Start Out That Way, you’ll learn about the wacky characters in her very extended family, the men who abused her and loved her, and the not-so- good old days of the 1940s and beyond. Judy has set a new bar for memoirs, and it’s a high one.
Carolyn Kott Washburne:
Noted freelance writer and editor, Adjunct Associate Professor Emerita, Department Of English, University Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Who writes like this?  'The paper was yellowed and crackly, coming apart at the creases where it's been open and folded, again and again, each time breaking my mother's heart.'  Judy Bridges does. On every page. I "luff" Judy, and I know you will, too.
Sara Rattan:
Winner of short story contests in the Wisconsin Academy Review and Glimmer Train
Judy Bridges understands the way place can unsteady and shape us. Her stories reveal such atmospheric grace and understated power. Like the best writers, Bridges knows the exact moment to let wildness rush into each dazzling story and ruin us. Her entire collection sings with a complicated love for country, home, and family in these stunning stories.
Robert Vaughan:
Editor-In-Chief at Bending Genres and author of Microtones, Diptychs + Triptychs + Lipsticks + Dip-Shits, Addicts & Basements, and Funhouse
In her memoir, Judy Bridges reveals the big and simple truths of her life with gentle humor, the wisdom of distance, and incredibly humane clarity. Anyone who has ever sat down to write a sentence will appreciate the magic Judy conjures in stringing together captivating tales using language and images that are imminently accessible and feel real and authentic to the life of the writer. A story like “Husband Number One” becomes a tale of strength and empathy in Judy’s hands, the marvel of someone telling a difficult truth of her own lived experience. I hope Judy lives to be 200 years old — it boggles my mind thinking about what she’d delight us with in a second volume.
Jonathon West:
Writer, Actor, Consultant, and author of Milwaukee’s Live Theater