Monday, July 12, 2010

Inquiry XIII: Peter Salomon

Today we welcome Peter Salomon.

Peter Salomon graduated Emory University in Atlanta, GA with a BA in Theater and Film Studies in 1989 and earned his CICP (Certified International Credit Professional) designation from NACM (National Association of Credit Management), FCIB (An Association of Executives in Finance, Credit and International Business) and Michigan State University in 2006. But credit consulting is not all that Peter excels at!

A member of Mensa, he has served on the Executive Committee of the Boston area chapter of Mensa as the Editor of their monthly newsletter, The Beacon. He was also a Judge for the 2006 Savannah Children’s Book Festival Young Writer’s Contest. He is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and is a serious writer who is represented by the Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

EEM: Did you always want to be a writer? If no, what was your initial dream and what led you to writing later?

PS: At one point, I thought I wanted to be a pediatrician but that passed; although even then, I was writing. It was simplistic, angstian poetry that left a great deal to be desired in the 'quality literary works of art' department. But, still, I spent all of my free time as a child either reading (anything and everything I could get my hands on) or writing. In high school is when I really started wanting to be a writer, but I didn't have a 'mentor' or anyone, really, who could guide me on that path. Today, there are so many websites and blogs and places to learn how to become a serious writer. So, I lost years that I look back on and realize how un-serious I was being, which I regret. I'm trying to make up for that now.

EEM: As a pre-published writer, what are some of the jobs that you do to help sustain your writing passion?

PS: At the moment I am a Certified International Credit Professional (a glorified collections agent) and that has led me to start my own consulting business for credit and collections. It is not, to say the least, the job I dreamed of having when I was a child. Actually, I have a BA in Theater and Film Studies (with a concentration in set design and construction for musical theater). I like to say that that has made me very good at Jeopardy; but, realistically, despite how much I enjoyed my time at college, it was, perhaps, not the wisest course of instruction for me. Unfortunately, the college I attended did not, at the time, have much of a creative writing program and it never occurred to me, when choosing a college, to look for that. In fact, I took one creative writing course at my college. After one session of reading our work out loud, the teacher, in front of the entire class, informed me that ,despite the fact that I was a talented writer, since I did not write historical fiction I was 1) not going to get an 'A' in his class and 2) not ever going to get published by a quality publisher. That was my one and only introduction to what passed for creative writing at my school. In addition to credit and collections, I do some freelance writing work (recently I have had an article published in Business Credit magazine and a cover story for a local newspaper).

EEM: Which job was the most challenging or strange to you?

PS: Since graduating college I have been a pharmacy technician, a legal assistant, Southeast Regional Administrator for a computer chain, and a cubicle dweller for various companies. For a while during the heyday of AOL in the mid-90s I worked for the Cartoon Network's section on AOL (keyword Cartoon) as both a moderator for their chat rooms and, most enjoyably, I answered viewer mail for almost a year (in character when required). That was the strangest and most challenging since it required a great deal of research sometimes to answer certain cartoon-related questions. I learned a great deal about cartoons. In addition, through countless hours watching the kids in the AOL chat rooms, keeping the peace, leading games with other moderators, and policing the chat it was a tremendous education in reaching and understanding the YA market that I write for.

EEM: How did you come across this job? Actively seeking or by chance?

PS: As usual for me, with all my day jobs, I have backed into them. As I mentioned, my educational background is not in Finance/Accounting. I was looking for employment back in the late 90's and a friend of my sister's was looking to hire someone to manage a small collections company he'd just purchased. I did that for a couple of years, after which I was 'qualified' to find more cubicle jobs in the Accounts Receivable field. Well, one cubicle led to another and here I am.

EEM: What was your favorite thing about this job?

PS: With the consulting I'm doing now, I'm hired by businesses to come in and help them streamline their in-house credit and collection departments, making them more efficient and more effective. I've discovered that I'm very good at this, despite the fact that, really, my heart isn't in it. Unfortunately, in today's economy, the budget to hire outside consultants has dried up across industries; which has left me relying more upon freelance writing, which, while paying far less, is, at least, far more emotionally rewarding.

EEM: Least Favorite?

PS: It is, always, difficult to collect monies owed (whether from consumers or commercial accounts) and that is doubly so in an economy such as we're currently living in. In trying to collect from consumers, it is never pleasant to be lied to or ignored or screamed at. In trying to collect from companies, while the screaming is gone, for the most part, being ignored is still part of the life.

EEM: Do your day job(s) allow you to write regularly? Or did you have to get creative to get those word counts in?

PS: As a consultant, I work from home so I have the time to write far more regularly than I have had in the past when I worked in a cubicle. For instance, a few years ago I brought my laptop to work everyday and during lunch hour, I'd speed eat my food and then spend the rest of the hour in my car, writing. It averaged out to about 40 minutes a day to write. Being at home means I need to balance work/writing/kids/house/etc. but it seems to be working, though financially it is, as usual lately, less than an optimal solution.

EEM: What other effects does it have on your writing?

PS: I'd like to say there's little crossover between finance and writing, but really I've managed to find some, such as the article I wrote for Business Credit back in April. Other than that, though, I tend to look at my credit/collections work life and my writing life as separate entities, though I have spoke with some marketing professionals who have recommended I not do that, since the ability to write is a tremendous asset in the business world.

EEM: Any fun stories from the job(s) that inspires your stories?

PS: Fun collection stories? While, yes, I do actually have some, most are either 'confidential' or relatively meaningless. Back when I was collecting on consumer accounts I received a Christmas card from a debtor who wanted to thank me for treating her so kindly. I still have that card, it meant that much. But it's not really inspirational on a writing basis.

EEM: Have you ever based a loved protagonist or an evil villain on one of your co-workers? Wished you had?

PS: Oh I have had some villains in some jobs. But, other than perhaps a scenario or two, it hasn't translated to my writing. I would think that is a greater reflection of the market I write for: Young Adult. I tend to use conglomerations of high school/college scenes or people more than adults for inspiration as that is what the market is.

EEM: Walking toward this goal to be a writer, what is some of the hardest things you have faced?

PS: Those moments working a day job where you realize 'I haven't written anything in days' and have no time to do so anytime soon. Free time is a tremendous luxury and not to be squandered. And time 'wasted' in a job you don't love is a difficult thing to deal with as it seems almost to be a personal insult, of sorts, on the writing aspect of my life.

EEM: Is it easy to keep the inspiration going?

PS: I've been writing since I was seven. I've written poems on napkins aat diners. I wrote a poem on a discarded prescription that someone left on a plane (I still have that one; it was entertaining to realize, years later when I became a pharmacy technician, that I wrote a poem on a birth control prescription...). Inspiration has never been the problem. Time, dedication, determination, consistency, voice: those have been, over the years, the problem.

EEM: Would you change anything if you could begin your writing journey over again?

PS: Yes, but perhaps even if I'd had the teaching and mentoring and education I most needed it still would have taken 4 practice books to find my voice enough to write the manuscript that finally resulted in signing with my agent. I wish I knew then what I know now, but that is a familiar lament to most people. If anything, I wish I had ended up in a career path that my day job would have included writing in some aspect but I've enough regrets as is to add to the list. The journey's led here: agented, working on revisions for a publishing house and writing each and every day. And isn't that the definition of writing happiness?

Well, at least it'll do until the book sells...

Awesome! Thanks Peter!

1 comment:

  1. Hello Erin,

    Great to read! Thanks again for keeping this up!