588. Writer's Rebound from Ballot Box Loss
Lori B. Duff
Lori thought she would be the voters’ obvious choice for probate court judge. She had a decade’s experience with a major metropolitan court, and her opponent wasn’t even a lawyer. Her unexpected loss was a stiff rebuke. At 42, she brushed herself off and put pen to paper.
Lori B. Duff is a recovering lawyer who has found renewed life as a writer. She is an in-demand ghost writer and editor, and an international best-selling author of 3 memoirs. Her latest, “You Know I Love You Because You’re Still Alive” recently won a gold medal in the 2017 eLit awards. She has a series of memoir writing classes designed to give people a head start on writing their own stories.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“I have always written, as long as I can remember. As a child in the single digits I remember announcing that I wanted to be a writer. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your perspective, my parents are very practical minded and did not want to see me starve to death. It had been drilled into me by my parents that if you did well in school you had to have a career that went along with it, and that the creative arts were not something you should do. They believed you should go to law school or med school, make money and be a professional. It really didn’t occur to me to question that. But I was fortunate enough to be in a public school system that valued creativity. We had a strong creative writing program that you had to be accepted into. It was a four-year program in high school, and I was involved in that the whole time. It was really phenomenal.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
In 2012, Lori decided to run for public office as a judge in the probate court of a metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia, county. A peculiarity in Georgia law permitted a non-attorney to serve in the position if the population was below 100,000. Lori had extensive legal experience and felt she was a shoo-in against her opponent, who was not a lawyer. “But apparently the electorate had a different opinion. Overwhelmingly so! I was stunned by the whole thing.” Soon after the electoral debacle, she found herself writing again, first as a blogger, then as a ghost writer using her skills in clearly expressing complex research in written language easily understood by non-experts. “Looking back, I’m glad I lost the election. I’d much rather be doing what I’m doing than be a probate court judge.”
The Most Powerful Lesson Learned?
“The first step is to just do it. So many people are afraid of what they haven’t done. They fear rejection. If you look at my books, they are well reviewed, mostly. But there are some reviewers who are mean, even with all the five star reviews. So, I get it that it’s scary to jump into something new. It really is. But you have to do it. You have to try. You’ll never know what you can do if you don’t try to do it.”
On Her Bookshelf
Telling Your Story: 7 Writing Prompts to Get You Started, by Lori B. Duff
Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza, by Lori B. Duff
The Armadillo, the Pickaxe, and the Laundry Basket, by Lori B. Duff
Steps to Success from Lori B. Duff
1. You can do more than one thing at a time. Explore your passions and options while you hold onto a job that gives you stability.
2. It takes time to build anything worthwhile—a new pursuit, a new business, a legal practice, anything. Work strategically so you can allow your new projects time and space to grow.
3. Don’t expect perfection your first time out. Every piece of good writing starts with a lousy first draft.
Connecting With Lori B. Duff
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