The following article was written by Lisa Pellegrene.
Perseverance. This is one quality great writers must have and anyone who succeeds in their path of choice, as discussed by Thomas Slatin in a recent interview. His passion and determination for writing and his desire to become a writer, first revealed itself at the age of eight. His earliest work consisted of writing short stories, rhymes and songs. Slatin recalls his immense love for books at an early age, particularly the book gifted to him by his parents entitled “Where the Wild Things Are.” It was also at the age of eight, that Thomas Slatin kept a handwritten journal. “It was nothing formal,” states Slatin, “but as the years went by it turned into something much greater. It was a basis for so much more to come”.
A year prior he had put together his first “newspaper” layout on a single page, which contained an article about his childhood pet, and some obscure doodles. That first “newspaper” layout represented the foundation of “everything he wanted to do in life,” stated Slatin. He recalls in the third grade, at a point in his life when his parents purchased a home in Upstate New York in the midst of a school year, his writing allowed him to adequately and honestly vent his frustration over the process of the move to Upstate New York, where he felt everything in his life was in the process of being uprooted, his friends, his teachers, his life would change from all he knew he thought. Slatin summarized that “his writing became his outlet and his journal a place to discuss his biggest concerns as a third grader. He continued, “it was a safe place to convey my dismay and discuss freely how I upset I actually was, and truly reflecting back it was a bit impressive and a mature feat for an eight year old.”
In the 90’s Slatin started using computer software for his writing and became adept at typing, “I remember at the time filling disks and disks with my writing, printing some out, but unfortunately most of my early writing stayed on those disks.” In the late 90’s Slatin established his first personal home page, his initial online platform for his writing work, and where he received feedback from people all over the world for his early work.” He continued, “as a teenager I wrote about typical teenage angst, and I wrote about the world being unfair, followed by a long, organized list which consisted of the improvements which he felt needed to be made for the world to be better. “Those early passages were a bit of an embarrassment to me when I read them later; however, would make a fantastic premise for an anonymous blog post, if I still had them,” concludes Slatin.
Discussing his writing work today, Thomas Slatin discusses what he now most enjoys writing about, which includes writing about his life, travels and adventures. “I am exclusively a non-fiction writer, and mostly write in long form. People often tell me that I tend to focus too much on the past, perhaps they are right, but my past experiences have made me the person I am today. I like to show my evolution in my writing and who I am as a person.” Something Slatin recalls learning first hand, involves turning what others could view as discouragement to a literal reason to persist and expand his work, as he relates this ability to an experience he had with an eleventh grade teacher who always found fault with his work, even petitioning to this parents to move him out of his class. Slatin states, “I stayed and somehow managed to get an A in that class.” His dad, Dr. Harvey L. Slatin spoke these words to him, “Not all teachers actively see the potential in their students. Most good writers are voracious readers and they learn indirectly from the authors. Writers are compulsive creators of stories, fables, myths, and poetry. They can’t help but write, it is as natural as breathing.”
What makes a successful writer according to Thomas Slatin, “Success as a writer should not be measured in monetary fashion, or by the number of social media followers one has, nor by any other numerical measurement such as the number of copies of books one sells. If one’s writing makes a difference in the life of another person, or becomes a catalyst of positive change in the world, or documents a life experience or event, or perhaps a new discovery presented in a way that is unprecedented, then that is what truly matters. That is success.”
Written by Lisa Pellegrene