Author Emily Rogan is our author of the day today. Here are her responses to questions about her essay that appears in Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart.
How long have you been writing essays?
I probably wrote my first essay in grade school; my mom has an essay I wrote in 9th grade about her framed and on her office wall. I wrote essays in high school, college and graduate school, so I guess I've been writing them a long time!
When and where was your first essay published?
In March 2008 I published an essay in Long Island Parents & Children about balancing the needs of my family with my own.
How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?
Honestly, I was shocked. I am so humbled by the talent represented by Freelance Success and I suffer from some inadequate feelings when it comes to my writing (what a shocker) that I didn't expect my piece to be chosen. I was so excited and felt a sense of validation about my writing that I'd never felt before.
Tell us a bit about the essay published Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it?
This essay was my attempt to make peace with the difficult, sad relationship I had with my father who died fourteen years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. For a long time, I focused on so many negative things about him; I think this essay was my tribute to what was good. I wrote it many years ago and then put it away. I'd take it out from time to time, work on it some more, then put it away again. Finally I thought it was ready to share, and I guess it was. My dad was an amazing hairdresser and the essay is about how we found common ground when he cut and colored my hair.
Had you tried the essay market before?
Yes, but I haven't had much luck. Essay writing is my passion; I have so many stories to tell! But so far, the essays I've pitched have been ignored or rejected.
What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology?
As I mentioned earlier, I feel honored to be included in a collection with so many amazingly talented, prolific writers. I am literally bursting with pride. On a personal note, this project has bolstered my confidence as a writer; it's also my first time ever being published in a book, so that's exciting too!
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."?
I work with high school seniors on their college essays and they often tell me that they don't have anything to write about. It's simply not true. What I encourage them to find is a small moment or experience and then look for the greater meaning in it. For example, one of my favorite essays was written by a young man about his grandfather teaching him how to whistle-not a life-shattering experience, right? The truth is, that grandfather was everything to that boy and had a great impact on the kind of man he was becoming. It turned out to be a beautiful essay. We all have stories to share. The hard part is finding the universal meaning in those stories.