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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, you’ll 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 mother’s 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 writer’s 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 wouldn’t 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 doesn’t 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. You’d be surprised by how many people can’t do that! If you need to, take an English class. Second, rejection is part of the job. Don’t 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 I’m a complete unknown! I’ve 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 don’t know me since each project is always something different. Otherwise, I could maybe call them and say, "I have another book I’d 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 can’t 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 be 1001

THINGS TO SAY TO YOUR KIDS for Prentice Hall.

© Copyright 1999, Michele Rader

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