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Monday, August 12, 2013

Alex Haley

"The reality is that writing is a lonely, private and poor-paying affair. For every writer kissed by fortune, there are thousands more whose longing is never requited. Even those who succeed often know long periods of neglect and poverty. I did."

Alex Haley
American Writer
1921 - 1992


The path to financial success is never easy for writers, artists or actors. In fact, for every Stephen King, John Grisham, James Patterson, Paul Newman, Tom Cruise or Angelina Jolie, there are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of creative people who do not make a dime from their writing, acting or painting. And for some, financial success may be short-lived — one movie, one song, one novel. So if you are in the game for money, you would be better off investing in the stock market or real estate. 

Creative work is not for the faint-of-heart. If you need people in your life, skip writing and painting. Enter theater, film or music which require group participation. Writing and painting are lonely pursuits that involve a minimum amount of people contact. Writers and painters spend long periods by themselves. Writers spend long periods in their own heads visiting worlds that do not exist and talking with people who are imaginary. Sounds crazy, doesn't it?

Creative Practice
Be sure that you are in the arts because you can't live without it. Does it keep your spirit alive? Does it restore your soul? Does it make you happy?

Alex Haley, the oldest of five children, was born in Ithaca, NY.  His father was a professor of agriculture.  When Alex turned 18, he joined the Coast Guard where he had a 20 year career.  While in the Coast Guard, Haley taught himself how to write stories.  After the Coast Guard, he began a career in writing.

Alex Haley interviewed Miles Davis and the article appeared in the September 1962 issue of Playboy.  Haley also interviewed Martin Luther King, Jr, Muhammad Ali, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jim Brown, Johnny Carson, Malcolm X and Quincy Jones for Playboy.  He also interviewed George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party.  

Haley's first book, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, was published in 1965 and by 1977 had sold 6 million copies.  In 1998, Time named it one of ten most influential nonfiction books in the 20th century.

In 1976, Haley published Roots, a novel based on his family's history.  His work on the novel involved ten years of research and writing.  The book was adapted for a popular television miniseries by ABC.

Here is a video of Alex Haley discussing Roots on the Merv Griffin Show (1977).