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WFD Interview with Peggy Fielding
by Michele Rader
She raises her right hand and says, "If you do
exactly what I tell you to do, youll sell your first article before the end of
this class is finished." Peggy Fielding smiles after making this promise but she
means what she say... and the students who follow her instructions exactly do
begin to sell their work.
Peggy loves to teach. It shows by the way she
helps and encourages her students and fellow writers alike. She began her
teaching career in Japan, Cuba and the Philippines teaching first grade
children. When she returned to the United States she turned to writing. Living
in the back room of her mothers house, she was determined to become a
successful writer. There she pounded out her first articles on a manual
typewriter. Her vow was to become published in every field. True to her word,
her first two articles that sold were one to an astrology magazine, the other to
a Sunday School paper. Since then, she has sold short stories, nonfiction books,
novels and countless articles. Her persistence and drive have earned her a
respectable living. Peggy is a staff writer for Trends Publication in
Tulsa, OK, runs a small publishing company from her home, speaks at writers
workshops across the country and is a teacher at Tulsa Community College.
WFD: You have built a successful career as a
writer. What made you decide to go back to teaching?
Peggy: When I started out writing I did
everything wrong. Then I became involved with the Tulsa Nightwriter's group and
knew I could help my fellow writers so they wouldnt repeat my mistakes.
Also, I inquired at TCC about a teaching job.
They wanted me to begin the following day so I jumped right in. I enjoy watching
people succeed and I continue to learn from my students.
WFD: How many successful writers have you
started down the path?
Peggy: Hundreds of my students have been
published over the years. Deborah Camp has had 45 novels published, Linda
Christie has had 12 nonfiction books published, and even Dan Case, editor of
Writing For DOLLARS!, was a former student of mine. I have a bookcase
with over 250 books given to me by my former students. That doesnt include the
thousands of articles and stories they have had published!
WFD: You have taught classes from Writing and
Selling Magazine Articles to Short Stories to Confessions. What are some of the
things you teach your students?
Peggy: First, they need to be able to write a
complete sentence in English. Youd be surprised by how many people cant do
that! If you need to, take an English class. Second, rejection is part of the
job. Dont take it personally. I just think, "What do they know?" and send it to
another publisher. Third, you have to write every single day. When I decided to
become a selling writer, I made a resolution that nearly killed me. I had to
send something out every single day, whether it was a query or a short story,
something, 7 days a week. That is what made it possible for me.
WFD: With all the subjects that you cover, what
do you like to write about the most?
Peggy: Whatever someone is paying me for!
Actually, I like to write fiction but everything is interesting to me. The
problem though with writing in every field is that Im a complete unknown! Ive
sold 5 non-fiction books, 2 novels, 1 in the inspirational field, 1 romance
novel and tons of business and technical articles. If I had specialized, it
would have been easier to sell my work. The editors dont know me since each
project is always something different. Otherwise, I could maybe call them and
say, "I have another book Id like you to see."
WFD: What essential advice would you give to
someone determined to become a full-time writer?
Peggy: It takes 8 hours a day, every day, just
like any other job. You cant become a doctor or a lawyer if you only work a few
hours a day. Writing is no different. Be sure you have 6 months worth of money
banked to support yourself so you can plunge right in.
Peggy has just sold another non-fiction book
called BARBARA, the biography of a UFO investigator. Her next book will
THINGS TO SAY TO YOUR KIDS for Prentice
© Copyright 1999, Michele Rader
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