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Friday, December 14, 2018

A beacon for writers with a dream

“The world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again . . .  Books became her friends and there was one for every mood.”Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Born on this date in 1896, Smith never “officially” went beyond 8th grade in her formal education, but because of her innate ability to tell a great story, she was able to convince the University of Michigan to let her “sit in” on writing classes, giving her the background to ultimately become one of America’s all-time best-selling authors. 

Smith quickly found that she was among the most “listened to” students in those college classes, because she literally spoke with a different voice, a voice from life experiences. She lived life intensely and cared passionately about matters that others could only guess at, and her professors recognized this. Ultimately she was rewarded with the Avery Hopwood Award, the most prestigious writing prize bestowed by the University.

In 1928, Smith started submitting her work to area newspapers and the N.E.A. Syndicate, selling some 50 articles to the Syndicate and places like the Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, and the Herald Tribune.  For this work she made $176.75 – “And I thought I was on top of the world,” she later recalled.   
                                              A dozen years later, the success of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn earned her some $300 thousand in just 2 years – and that was before movie rights, which led to an Academy Award winning movie in 1945.   Between then and 1963, she wrote three more best sellers, including Joy in the Morning, another top-grossing book and movie.   She remains today as a beacon for all writers who both have a dream and the “can do” spirit to make it a reality.

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