When I was younger, growing up in New York City, I wanted to play second base for the Yankees. Then I fell in love with bridges, and thought about designing a George Washington of my own.
But when I was twelve, my free-spirited mother schlepped me and my sister to Europe, where we did the Grand Tour. I was reluctant to visit all those Musées and Notre Dames. But after seeing quite a few of them, I started to glimpse the power of the rose windows and the sculptures in Florence’s Piazza della Signoria. The next year, my mother took us to Mexico, where I got to see people from the countryside learning their history from Diego Rivera’s murals in Chapultepec Castle. I knew then I wanted to be an artist. Well, not quite then—those impressions took a couple of years to sink in.
But a writer? That niche was already occupied in my family. My dad was the author Lee Rogow, who published fiction and nonfiction in the New Yorker, Esquire, and all the leading magazines of his time. He died young, tragically, but I knew if I became I writer I’d always be compared to my dad. Brilliant, talented, witty, handsome—he was not an easy act to follow.
So I tried a variety of arts, from figure drawing to modern dance to pottery to macramé. I wasn’t much good at any of them, though I did make a little money selling macramé belts one summer in San Francisco. I realized that if I had a shot at being an artist, it was going to have to be as a writer.
Which was fine with me—I love to read, and most of my heroes and heroines are poets, playwrights, and novelists. It took many years, though, many more than I ever would have imagined, to write something I felt proud of.
Artists always feel that their most recent work is their best. My book with Regal House Publishing, Irreverent Litanies, is no exception. The book came about partly because my son was getting bar mitzvahed, the Jewish coming-of-age ritual that takes place at age thirteen. Having grown up with a mother who didn’t believe in any kind of religion, I suddenly had to come to terms with spirituality, and how it did or didn’t have a claim on me. I think it’s a question most people have a tug o’ war with at some point in their life. I do, on an ongoing basis.
Are you also a writer? Or are you curious about how writers create? You might be interested in my blog, Advice for Writers, which has more than 200 posts on topics related to writing and literature.