Ontario man writes for `Chicken Soup’ books
By L. Alexis Young – Staff Writer
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
Chicken soup has been good for an Ontario man’s soul.
After years of having his short stories rejected, Lawrence Elliott wasn’t sure that he could ever become a published author. His luck changed, thanks to the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, where the author made his debut.
“I got so many rejections I thought I’d never be published,” said Elliott, a full-time real-estate agent for Prudential California Realty. “I started writing in the sixth grade. My teacher gave us a writing assignment and I made a book out of it, which was basically a bunch of papers taped together.”
It was in elementary school when Elliott discovered his passion for writing and dreamed of becoming an author. By the time he reached middle school, writing had become the calm in a very difficult storm he endured.
“I was bused to a predominantly white school in the seventh grade and it was rough because I’m black,” Elliott said. “Somehow, I was labeled with having a reading disability. My reading development teacher gave me a writing assignment to write an essay a week. I liked it so much I would write three essays a week.
“It gave me self-esteem because it let me know that there was something in this world that I could do,” Elliott said.
Elliott served four years in the Air Force and had several jobs in various fields before becoming a real-estate agent in 1989. Though he enjoyed working in real estate, the desire to write was still so strong that Elliott continuously wrote stories. It wasn’t until he was hospitalized in 2005 with a blood clot in his lungs that Elliott decided to try one last time to get one of his stories published.
In October, Elliott wrote a story about his grandmother and it was published in “Chicken Soup for the Soul Healthy Living Series: Arthritis”.
Five months after his first story was published, Elliott succeeded in getting “Thank God for the Sandwiches” published in the book “Letters to My Mother: Tributes to the Women Who Give Us Life”, and it is Elliott’s favorite story.
“It’s my favorite book because I got to tell my mom about all of the things she did for me that I didn’t appreciate growing up,” Elliott said. “I had always told her she was a drill-sergeant mom that didn’t want me to have any fun. This story was really a way for me to give something back to her.
“There was a time when we were homeless and she made sure we understood that even though we didn’t have this or that, it wasn’t an excuse for us to steal, or rob, or join gangs,” he said.
Elliott, 45, said he is now grateful for being raised by a strict mother. The author recalls his first Little League game when the ball hit his knuckles instead of the bat. When his coach ran out to check on his hand, Elliott’s mother yelled out, “Don’t baby him! Shake it off!”
He said it was his mother’s way of teaching him that life is going to be hard sometimes, but he would have to shake it off and do it the right way.
Two years ago, his wife Lisa entered perimenopause, prompting him to write a story about the effect it was having on their lives. In June, “God, I’m Shvitzing!” was published in “Chicken Soup for the Soul in Menopause”, and Lisa was stunned by her husband’s words.
“It’s perfect,” she said. “I didn’t know he felt so badly for me. The hot flashes and mood swings are pretty miserable and I’m sure I take it out on him. I’ve been in perimenopause for two years and he’s always been right by my side. He’s a great human being and he’s just an all-around good guy. He’s an extremely talented writer. I’m very, very proud of him.”
Elliott will have another story published in the Chicken Soup series in November and is working on several other stories. Though he loves being a real-estate agent, Elliott said he would become a full-time writer if the opportunity presents itself.
Staff writer L. Alexis Young can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (909) 483-9365.
Reprinted with permission from Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. Copyright © 2007 Los Angeles Newspaper Group