At the age of eight I began pounding away on my mother’s now-antique Smith-Corona typewriter. I would write my thoughts, feelings, and fantasies, and I’d record tidbits from conversations I overheard in our Sicilian-American Brooklyn neighborhood. I never gave much thought to the actual process of writing until, when I was a junior high school student, my English teacher wrote, “Very, Very Good” on my reflective response to a short story. That was when I discovered that I had not only a passion for words and stories but also a flair.
At Wagner College (in New York City), where I earned a bachelor’s degree in education with a double major in sociology, my professors encouraged me to write for the campus newspaper. Then, at the University of Pittsburgh, where I got my master’s degree in education, I wrote for the Pitt News.
During the political and social turbulence of the 1970s, a sociology professor dubbed me “spokesman for the oppressed” (this was before the notion of avoiding gender-biased language took hold) and suggested that I volunteer for the Interracial Concern Task Force, a group dedicated to promoting racial diversity and harmony on campus. My work on the task force inspired me to write articles about the inequities caused by racism in our society.
In the late 1970s, I relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, prompted by a yearning to develop my craft as a writer and to live in a trend-setting environment. I took classes in journalism, autobiography, education, Spanish, and Italian. In 1982, I became an adult educator and taught oral and written communication skills until 2009. My teaching career took me to South America, where I taught English for a year, worked as a translator, and solidified my fluency in Spanish. Another highlight of that period was getting my first article published in a nationally known magazine, New Age.
I was also inspired by my jazz and Afro-Caribbean dance classes, which led to freelance writing assignments for City Arts, a popular San Francisco newspaper of the 1980s. My articles dealt with African American choreographers and dance companies and addressed, among other things, the racist reviews that some Bay Area dance critics were giving to African American dance performances.
Eventually I turned away from making my living as a freelance writer. I realized that I was more interested in helping my students to improve their writing than in slogging away as an underpaid writer. I had earned another master’s degree, in English (from San Francisco State University), and I was jazzed about helping students to develop their writing talents.
For the past seventeen years, I have immersed myself in what I do best: working with words and transforming my clients’ and students’ writing into powerful, polished text. I find it immensely satisfying to help people to achieve their dreams—whether it be publishing their manuscripts; gaining admission to professional programs in psychology, law, medicine, and other fields; getting accepted to Ivy League MBA programs; or completing their doctoral dissertations or master’s theses.
I have never regretted my decision not to continue freelance writing, because I constantly get to write and peek into the dictionary and thesaurus (my two favorite books) as I revise my clients’ writing and teach students to become stronger writers. The appreciation and feedback I receive make it worthwhile, and every project is a new learning experience. I cannot imagine a more enjoyable career.
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