Why writers write … my point of view

One of my editors recently shared with me, and two other columnists, a delightful missive from a reader praising the three of us. It’s always a pleasure to hear from a reader and I want to thank Carol Allison for her kind words. I particularly like the quote from Michael J. Fox in AARP that she noted: “Gratitude makes optimism last. I live by this doctrine every day and every day I express my gratitude for all that I have. It lifts me up, and yes, makes me a downright optimist.

In my early teens I wrote a little Beatles newsletter and got permission to make copies on my school handout. I charged my readers around 25 cents for this and soon I posted them to new readers who had heard about it from friends. I did this for the pleasure of sharing my crazy enthusiasm on my favorite band. Eventually I received a cease and desist letter from a lawyer who told me that I could not use the name “The Beatles”. Heartbroken I asked if I could use a drawing of their mops instead. He thought about it for a minute, then said it could be done, so I continued.

I also submitted a letter to a columnist who wrote in the Hartford Courant about the garage rock band’s script. I told him that I was the publicist and booking agent for a four-piece band and that I was always looking for new venues and regularly called the DJs at WDRC about the band. She used stories I sent on Battle of the Bands events, TV appearances, and interviews I did with top DJs.

When I graduated and went out on my own from Connecticut to South Florida, I scoured the writers market which was updated every year and started posting news, reviews , poems, etc. all over. Fortunately, the shipping was affordable back then because I sent to the Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel daily until I finally decided to drop my stories in person. I befriended everyone there, including editor Tom Shroder, and persisted relentlessly until I started posting, often on the same page as my hero. , Dave Barry.

I never met Dave Barry in person, but I did send him a long letter once, asking him what Stephen King really looked like, telling him we were page buddies and that since his secretary brought his pet companionship with my vet, we were practically relatives. I received a postcard from him that said (in his own handwriting) “Jo Ann, thank you. -Dave Barry. I still have it.

Since the Writers Market listed several universities that published their own literary magazines, I chose The Gettysburg Review, a quarterly published by Gettysburg College, a private American Civil War liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. Student writers accepted unsolicited submissions for poetry, fiction, and essays, and I sent them often. I was also drawn to this particular college because it was voted, out of 50 other colleges and universities, as the “most haunted”. The editor I dealt with had a good sense of humor, however, sending me a t-shirt with a Gettysburg Review design on the front and a Washington Post quote on the back: heights. “I ‘ still have that too.