Erica Ferencik is the author of the 2008 satiric novel Cracks in the Foundation, called ‘hilarious’ by Alex Beam of the Boston Globe. Her work has also been featured in the Boston Globe, Salon, and National Public Radio; and her humor column appears monthly in Metrowest Daily News, a metro Boston newspaper. Her supernatural thriller, Repeaters, was released in September, to be swiftly followed in November by Radio My Way, the life story of Boston radio personality Ron Della Chiesa. Visit Erica at Wake Up and Smell the Blog.
1) Elementary School: I feel like I might be different from other kids. While everybody else is running around at recess screaming and laughing and having fun, I like to sit under a tree and write about what I did today, and what I saw, and what I thought about.
2) Junior High: My Advanced Placement English teacher, Mrs. Portnik, told me I have a gift. She says I have a way with words! I do love to read, and to write in my diary every single day. She says I should be a writer. The thing is, she’s a writer, but she doesn’t seem too happy. A lot of times she’s pretty cranky. In fact, every now and then she says she had a “late night,” whatever that means. Anyway, I love words and I’m going to be a writer when I grow up. I’m so excited!
3) College: I’m really getting into Sylvia Plath. Man, she was one dark horse. But I’m not sure I’ve got the poetry gene. I want to be a famous novelist, thank you very much. Trying to convince the parents I can make a living with my writing, but they’re not buying it. They’re all up in my business about doing something “practical.” Sheesh! I wish they would just chill. I’ll work it out. Maybe I could be a writer with a side of what, law?
4) Midtwenties: Good thing my childhood sucked because evidently that’s a goldmine! I’m going to tell my life story from fetus to recreational pot smoker, and it’s going to a bestseller. I may even stretch the truth a bit to make it more of a page turner, what the hell. Good thing I’m a barista, I get to load up on coffee before I go home and write…
5) Late Twenties: OK, nobody wanted to hear that story, I guess. Papering my walls with rejection slips, some of them are even very “nice.” This getting an agent thing is a drag. I spend more time working on query letters than I do writing anything new. And besides, after I get done with my catering job the last thing I want to do is work on my new novel, not that anyone is clamoring for the first one. *sigh*
6) Early Thirties: Screenwriting! Now this is the answer to my prayers. A lot more fun and so fewer words to actually write. Best idea I ever had to toss it all and move to Los Angeles. Drinking wheatgrass juice, going to pitch meetings. Don’t know why I didn’t think of this before.
7) Late Thirties: Do you know how many screenwriters there are in Los Angeles? Let me put it this way: it’s easier to count the five or six people running around out there without a screenplay tucked under one arm. I am officially back to novels, though I wish I had more time to write these days. I’m lucky to get a paragraph written while the baby’s sleeping. You know how that goes. I’ve woken up napping on my keyboard more times than I care to count.
8) Early forties: Finally having an agent feels great but we still have to sell the stupid book. She tells me my book won’t sell because I’m not well known. Well, duh. She’s all over me to write a vampire novel for young adults. I can’t write about cute vampire boys. I can’t I can’t I can’t. Maybe I should just suck it up and do it. Get it: suck it up? Anyway, just joined a new writing group and pray it’s not a huge waste of time.
9) Fiftyish: The kids tell me I have to tweet and post and blog. Work on my platform. All I want is to get my book published. No wonder Mrs. Portnik was cranky. Pass the wine. What can I say? I didn’t write the vampire novel, but I am working on something that finally feels right. And you know, I still feel a bit different from other people, but I’ve given up worrying about that. For whatever good it does me, I still like to sit under a tree and write about what I did today, and what I saw, and what I thought about.
Originally published in Metrowest Daily News.