Author Lisa Fantino dropped by today to share her unique insights after 5 decades of being a writer. Stay tuned for a future review of her popular book Amalfi Blue, coming soon to the blog. In the meantime, see what Lisa had to say about her 50 years of writing...
The 5 Decades of a Writer's Life
Some people are born opera stars. Some folks are natural athletes. I am a lifer when it comes to writing. I received the all important tools of the trade, a typewriter and a tape recorder, for my third Christmas and so it began. Now, with the release of my memoir, “Amalfi Blue, lost & found in the south of Italy,” it puts this long passion for writing in perspective.
With the success of the book, come the requests for advice from aspiring writers, people who have not yet earned a penny from their hobby. I call it a hobby because that is all it will be for most people because there is a true difference between just writing words or creating a world with words that others want to enter.
So, I will try to highlight the five decades of a writer’s journey, realizing full well that not everyone’s path to literary immortality will be the same.
- The teens – everything stirs her curiosity. While young girls fill diaries with pointless drivel about morning acne and silly boys, teen writers fill books with prose & poetry. They are spurred by emotion and fueled by hormones to send letters everywhere. The budding Lois Lane will not be swayed from getting her voice to the masses and is published in a national magazine by her Sweet 16. You will most likely find her at the editor’s desk of the H.S. paper.
- The 20s – The true writer is likely to be a dual major of Literature and Journalism. She will study the classics because they stir her soul and inspire her to dream of writing the great American novel. She will study the practicalities of journalism because that is where she can hone her skills. If she’s lucky enough, she’ll be introduced to the writing bibles of “Strunk and White” and almost any style book written by Merv Block. You will most likely find her in a corner of the campus library, shutting out the world, doing re-writes for the only creative writing class the college offers.
- The 30s – The true writer has resigned herself to a life of poverty since most print publications barely cover gas money for 2,000 words, while blogs and websites barely offer enough to buy a burger. Thanks, freelance writing sites, for dumbing down the writers’ market even further when it comes to compensation. You will most likely find the 30-something writer working 60+ hours, during ungodly overnight shifts, at any newspaper, radio or TV station which will hire her…..and unless she’s in a major market (NY, LA or Chi-town), she is earning a fraction of what her IT alums are making. BTW, the first draft of that novel now sits with the 2nd and 3rd re-writes on her dead laptop, along with the junk file of agent and publisher rejection letters. She keeps those for when her first book is a best-seller and she can say “I told you so!”
- The 40s – The true writer is laughing and crying inside as she sees her colleagues give up true journalism for a life in P.R., knowing full well they will also earn more than she is doing chasing down news stories. They write press releases and she still dreams of writing the great American novel, while realizing there is no money in the retirement fund. You will most likely find her at the bar, which sits across from the TV station, with the old-timers who can’t imagine a life outside of news.
- The 50s – The true writer says “F^*^ it all, I’m doing it my way.” She understands that life is too short to wait for others to realize her dream. She is realistic enough, hopefully not delusional, to know whether she has what it takes to draw in readers. She’s honed this skill after many, many years working with seasoned editors, taking the ego hits and learning how to improve her craft. You will likely find her chasing her dream to all corners of the world, confident in her ability to make it happen.
My former journalism students either dropped out the first week of class or continued to take my writing courses as electives, understanding full well that rejection and editing make you better in spirit and talent. Writers are writers because they cannot think of doing anything else but writing. You won’t get rich. Maybe you won’t be famous. So, you write for yourself and if others jump on the crazy train with you, then oh, what a ride it will be!
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