Steve Weintz, author of Angie’s Story
I’ve been a writer and been around publishing all my life.
I went to Vanderbilt because I wanted to be a writer. Three U.S. Poet Laureates are Vanderbilt alums: Allen Tate (B.A. 1922), Robert Penn Warren (B.A. 1925), and Randall Jarrell (M.A. 1938). Novelists James Dickey (B.A. 1949) and James Patterson (M.A. 1970).
At Vanderbilt I published some short stories and one philosophical piece (The Reality of Faith) that was selected for publication my senior year in the Undergraduate Review. I swore I was not going to be like my father and be a crass businessman. I wanted to be a real writer. I graduated in 1978 with a double major in English and Philosophy and guess what . . . needed to get a job. So I started my career as a copywriter for Martseller Advertising in Manhattan. One of the accounts I wrote promotional copy for was…..a publisher: Playboy Book Club.
Then I got married and had kids and guess what again . . . it was more important to make money and support my family than it was to write. I also started drinking and I lost the motivation and drive to write creative stuff. I re-invented the wheel and followed in my father’s footsteps: I worked at Reader’s Digest back in the early ’80s, learned the magazine business and moved to Little Rock in 1987 to help launch the publishing division of Leisure Arts.
Not all my doing at all–I happened to be at the right place and the right time–but I did help Leisure Arts establish a very profitable publishing division. In less than a year we had over one million magazine subscribers and we sold over 250,000 copies of our hardback Christmas annual: The Spirit of Christmas. Again–not all my doing and I take only a little credit for the success. But it was a huge success! And with that success came an increase in salary. I bought a Porsche that came with a 22-year old girlfriend and a large bottle of gin. In 1989 I pretty much self-destructed. You’ve seen video footage of the Challenger explosion from 1986? Well that was my life in 1989 with bits and pieces of me falling back to earth where they lay smoldering on the ground. I quit Leisure Arts, got divorced and started drinking 24/7.
With the help of a local businessman, Wythe Walker Sr., I sobered up. I haven’t had a drink since August 28, 1989. Although I wanted to move away, Wythe told me I needed to stay in Little Rock and help raise my kids. Wythe was a pivotal figure in my life and in my recovery and I did what he suggested. I stayed in Little Rock. But because there were no other major publishing companies in town I started to do other things related to marketing and business development.
From 1989 to May 2010, when I moved to Charleston, my career evolved from publishing to broader marketing assignments, then to work with startup companies writing business plans and doing the marketing for them. Along the way I started writing some Commentaries for Arkansas Business. Some are funny and off-the-wall (Burning Bodies on Bowman) and some are more serious (Entrepreneurship and the Realty of Faith). You can find some of the articles I’ve published on the “In the News” link to my business web site: http://www.sbwventuresinc.com/
In 1994 I wrote Jesus and the Gigolo, my first novel, but I did not try and get it published. It’s 140,000 words and I haven’t looked at it in over almost 17 years. I plan to go back now and start a re-write and clean it up. I’m also writing shorter fictional pieces and plan to publish them in a collection of stories in the next year or two.
In 2001 I was hired to write a book on the historic Capital Hotel in Little Rock. The book was published by the University of Arkansas Press in 2002. http://www.uark.edu/~uaprinfo/titles/sp02/weintz_capitalidea.html
While working on the book I met Crescent Dragonwagon whose late husband, Ned Shank, had done some of the research on the history of the old hotel. Crescent, a writer, lived in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. By this time I had gone through the entire Angie saga and was writing the first draft of Angie’s Story. I met Rosemary Daniell through Crescent when Rosemary was in residence and writing at the Writer’s Colony there in Eureka. http://www.writerscolony.org/
Rosemary is the award-winning author of Fatal Flowers: On Sin, Sex and Suicide in the Deep South, and seven other books. You can visit her web site: http://www.myzonarosa.com
Rosemary was intrigued by my story and has been my editor and writing coach on and off through the last decade. Thank you Rosemary!
You know by now the story behind the story, with regard to Angie’s Story, so I won’t go into all that again here except to say that in 2010 two start-up companies I was involved with failed and I pretty much lost everything . . . my home, my business. Everything. I moved to Charleston to work with one of my commercial clients. In the middle of my pain and distress I re-connected with my creative writing and started a re-write on Angie’s Story, again with the help of Rosemary.
One final thought and observation. I’m 56 now. I was born on February 14, 1956. My kids are grown. The half-time entertainment is over. . .I’m definitely in the second half of my life. So when I look back at what I’ve accomplished what is most meaningful? The money I’ve made (and lost)? No. Maybe some of the business ventures l that I’ve helped. But above all, the greatest satisfaction for me comes from writing. I’m writing today and I’ll continue to write because that’s what makes me happy.
Stephen King wrote in his memoir, On Writing: “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”
Angie’s Story is finished. It’s a heck of a story. It’s been a crazy-ass-wild ride. It’s a good piece of writing–my best work to-date. And regardless of what the critics say and whether I sell one thousand, one hundred thousand or a million copies, I’m happy. And to me, that’s a lot.
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