The Winding Road to Novelist

As I mentioned, I have always wanted to publish a novel.

I was an only child until I was almost six years old and then my parents were busy with a newborn.  As a result, I had a lot of time to myself as a kid — and so I read.  I read a lot.  I also became enamored with the job of novelist and I fantasized about making that my career.

Fast forward to the late 1980’s when I had to determine what I’d do to earn a living.  While I loved to write, I was too risk-averse to try journalism, which would require that I cut my teeth at small-town newspapers all over tarnation.  Plus, I wasn’t sure I was really ready for the workforce anyway.  So I did what many uninspired political science majors who like to write do: I went to law school.

I’ll spare you the often painful details of my six years (three in school, three in practice) in the legal profession.  Suffice it to say, it was not my finest hour.  I was wholly ill-suited to big firm litigation, which I did upon graduation simply because that’s what everyone else was doing.  (To quote Taylor Swift, Stupid girl.)  I’d get in trouble with firm partners for kindly granting extensions to opposing counsel, which I’d done because being nice was my nature but, it turned out, was also strategically stupid.  I might have done better in law if I’d tried a more conciliatory practice area, like adoption law.  In addition to hating litigation and the hierarchical structure of big firms, where I had to kowtow to partners whom I absolutely didn’t respect, I also discovered that the little writing I got to do didn’t satisfy my creative urges.  So at night and on the weekends, I took writing classes.   I soon found that while I was earning poor performance reviews as a lawyer, every single piece of writing I sent out (usually personal essays; this was in the 1990’s, long before blogs or really even before the Internet ) was getting published.  The universe was telling me something.

I dropped out of law and went back to school to earn a master’s in journalism, which was a wonderful experience not only for what I learned writing-wise, but also for the time it granted me to regain my badly bruised self-esteem.  I’d been emotionally beaten up by failing as a lawyer, but I received a scholarship to the journalism program and even won a prestigious award while I was there.  After graduation, I became a staff writer at a legal newspaper, the perfect marriage of my legal and journalism degrees.  I’ve been happily and successfully freelancing for more than 10 years.

Hyper diligent, I treated the writing, revising and editing of Cheer the way I would one of my other writing assignments.  For the past 18+ months, I gave myself goals and deadlines and I hope the end result reflects my love of the story.


  1. A.M.B. said:

    That’s quite a path! It sounds like you’ve ended up doing something you are good at and something you love–an important combination. I seem to be one of the few lawyers who actually loves their job. Then again, I’m a public interest attorney. I’m surrounded by nice people doing good work. I’m lucky. Good luck with your book!

    • Leslie A. Gordon said:

      You ARE lucky — and you’re doing great work! 🙂

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