Laurie Rozakis
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About Laurie: A Life in Letters

Laurie RozakisIn Which She Becomes an English Teacher

In retrospect, I suppose that I've always been a writer, scribbling loopy crayon messages as a toddler, writing gossipy notes as a teenager, and typing dense letters in college. English was my best subject, but I never imagined making writing a career. So during the day I took a full load of advanced classes; in the late afternoon, I went to charm school, ballet classes, and music lessons (failures all); took sewing, art, and ice skating (modest successes). I could cook and test like a whiz -- proving both when I aced the test that made me Betty Crocker Homemaker of the Year in high school -- and tested well enough to earn a full academic scholarship to Hofstra. I earned a degree in English and education in three years with honors and promptly took a job teaching high school English.

In Which She Falls Into a Career

In 1981, home briefly after the birth of my first child, Charles, I decided to fill the time between burping and bathing him by writing a book.

I settled on a review book for the AP English test. With the boundless confidence of the novice, I created a TOC and sent it to every publisher listed in Literary Market Place. Who bought the manuscript? ARCO -- the first name on the list. My editors at this division of Simon and Schuster proved both patient and kind, gently initiating me into the mysteries of the book biz.

I'm a compulsive writer, often losing track of time when my imagination catches fire. As a result, I usually continue to write long after midnight, always with a rapier-sharp #2 pencil behind my right ear, a cup of tepid, murky tea on the bookshelf, and the radio droning "oldies but goodies" in the background. I never use the pencil, know enough to shun the tea, and rarely remember the words to any song, but that's the routine. The first draft usually comes easily to me, but it's all smoke and mirrors, for I write, rewrite, and rewrite again. Words, like people, have rhythms and personalities. I want more than meaning -- I want the beat. Will you remember this phrase, suck on it like a ripe cherry, play with the pit in your mouth for half an hour? If so, I've done my job well.


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