Today Freelance-Zone is happy to be able to feature David Ira Rottenberg, a fellow writer and poet. Mr. Rottenberg is a graduate of Columbia University. He has had a novel, For Me and My Friends, published by Grove Press and co-authored three business books, The Rhythm of Business, Collaborative Communities and Everyone Is a Customer, published by Butterworth-Heinemann and Dearborn Press. He has written for publications such as Boston Magazine and the Boston Globe and his poems have appeared in poetry magazines throughout the United States. For Light Video and Television he wrote and produced educational documentaries. His latest book is Gwendolyn, the Graceful Pig, a children’s picture book. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
- How did you get started in writing?
I’ve always written. I once found an old report card from the fourth grade where the teacher said I liked to write stories to amuse my friends. But I got started writing professionally when I was a senior in college and started writing my first novel. I wanted to have a novel written before I graduated and had to face the real world. About two years after I graduated the book was actually published. It never sold many copies but it was exciting and it was how I got started writing.
What are some of the things you have done in your writing career thus far?
I’ve written business books with a business professor, written educational videos, written a children’s book, Gwendolyn, the Graceful Pig, and I’m now writing a teen novel called Outside the Edges.
Were there any particularly satisfying experiences you have had as a writer?
One satisfying experience is that when I have an idea and it flows out quickly onto the page and I know, even though I’m writing, it’s coming out well. Another satisfying experience is when I’ve worked and worked on something and I read it over for the hundredth time and it finally reads just the way I want it to.
To you, what is the secret to being a good writer?
Editing. Going over and over something until it’s right.
What advice do you have to give new writers?
Read a lot and write a lot. Particularly read the kind of books you want to write. The kind of books you admire.
You write poetry as well—what inspires your work?
I might see something, usually some little thing or a phrase might suddenly pop into my head. Whatever it is, it’s a seed that I try to use to expand into something bigger. Something that can stand on its own as a whole. Some seeds work. Some seeds don’t. Sometimes I end up with a finished poem. Sometimes, no matter how long I work on it or keep on coming back to it, it never becomes anything good.
How is writing a novel different than other types of writing?
If you’re writing a book, remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Set a pace that you know you can keep. If you can write three pages a day in three months you have 270 pages and the first draft of your novel. Don’t be overly critical while you’re writing the three pages. Just keep writing. Every day. There’s usually more that’s usable than you think and once you’ve got that first draft done, there’s plenty of time for rewriting.
What does your desk/workspace look like?
I’m usually messy everywhere but the little area where I write is fairly neat. Right around my computer is a small island of neatness. Everywhere else is not very neat.
What is your next project?
I’m working on a second children’s picture book which will be more adventures of Gwendolyn and Omar, the two main characters in the first book and I’m working on a teen novel. The entire book is done in the sense that the beginning, middle and end are all there but I’m still going over it and over it and over it and it keeps on getting better but it’s not where I want it to be yet.