My interest in writing began at age seven. That was in poetry. By age fourteen I was taking journalism courses and working on the school newspaper, specializing in features. Under my guidance our newspaper won a national first-place Columbia University journalism award and the staff went to New York City to receive it. In the post of features editor, I interviewed every famous person who came within range, from the Speaker of the U.S. House to musician Dave Brubeck.
I won a couple of North Carolina first-place state awards in journalism. Immediately afterwards, at Duke University, I worked on the college paper, The Chronicle, in features, again interviewing interesting people, such as the head of the parapsychology lab, J.B. Rhine..
Following the advice of the Raleigh News & Observer reporter, David Murray, who accompanied me to Dearborn, Michigan, for the national leg of a state journalism context I’d won,
I majored in history (graduated with Honors and Distinction).
Then I took a master’s degree in literature at Columbia University (thesis on William Faulkner). Out of Columbia, I opted to live in the City. My ambition had always been focused on writing; the goal of the seven-year-old never changed. But my first job was as a receptionist for the New York branch of a Hollywood literary agency. Quickly moving on, I joined United Feature Syndicate as an assistant editor. Besides editing, with my press credentials, I attended interesting New York events.
After almost a year I switched jobs again—moving to Random House with the coveted position of copy editor. Those were the “golden days of publishing”; writers were surrounded with attention and accolades inside the publishing house. The copy editor’s job was extensive, and without a computer one way I would fact check was by phoning the Daily News. Realizing that I could work well with very creative people, I was often assigned a writer with a first book. That included folk singer/novelist Richard Fariña (cult classic: Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me). And Hunter S. Thompson (best seller: Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga). And John Irving. But I also worked with already high-profile authors, such as nightly news anchor Chet Huntley or First Amendment Supreme Court lawyer Cy Rembar (classic: The End of Obscenity, reviewed on the front page of the New York Times Sunday book review section). Another New York Times best seller was the comedy Heaven Help Us!
After Random House, I spent several months teaching at a Fred Astaire studio on Park Avenue, hoping this schedule would give me more time to write. It didn’t. I left and went to MacDowell Colony for artists (the first of three fellowships there). This was a wonderful, extended time in pure writing on my “big book.” Afterwards, however, I married a Belgian poet, and together we went to live in Morocco, mostly in villages. In those years my only editing was of his work (as well as my own). He read it to me every night. Mostly through requests of successful friends, I kept my hand in editing while living in Belgium. But immediately upon returning to the U.S. to live at the end of 2001, I jumped back into editing regularly. My love for it had never dwindled. Never flamed out. It keeps me stimulated. And it keeps my brain as sharp as possible.
I am known for cutting excess verbiage. Also for asking astute questions.
Try me. I hope we are a fit. What constitutes a fit? A serious writer. There are many of them. Someone with a gift—the better quality the gift, the more we are a fit. Someone who can take criticism as a step toward a better manuscript and return with a much-improved page or chapter or book. Someone who cares. Who puts the time in. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. Someone who is realistic about the rigors of the publishing world but strongly motivated. Someone I can enjoy working with and vice versa.