by Maria Imbalzano
originally posted on MariaImabalzano.com April 30, 2018
Thirty-something years ago while in law school, I was invited to join and write for the Fordham International Law Journal (ILJ). I was never a good creative writer, but I learned to love legal writing–very linear and analytical. The article I wrote for the ILJ was titled “In re Mackin: Is the Application of the Political Offense Exception an Extradition Issue for the Judicial or the Executive Branch?” It was approximately 30 pages which included 181 footnotes. Even I don’t want to re-read it, but if you’re so inclined, it can be found on the internet.
After graduating from law school, I practiced law first as an Estates and Trusts lawyer (taxes were my thing) then as a divorce lawyer dealing with issues of custody, child support, alimony, equitable distribution and a host of other problems. I enjoyed writing legal memorandums, briefs, and motions, but the creativity was in the arguments to the court, not the writing.
About twenty years ago, I decided to try my hand at creative writing. As fate would have it, a flyer came across my desk for a seminar called “How to Write Your Book in 14 Days (A Lawyer’s Guide)”. I quickly signed up, thinking no one else would be there. I was wrong. The room was packed with would-be John Grisham’s hoping to write that blockbuster manuscript, sell it, make a fortune and retire from law.
The seminar was exactly what I needed to get started – although to this day, I have not been able to write a book in fourteen days. It did, however, help me in plotting my stories and breaking them down from chapters to scenes to paragraphs. With that and countless writing seminars and conferences on point of view, character development, story arcs, conflict, the black moment, dialogue, etc. I have moved from legal writing to creative writing.
Being back at the law school for our reunion brought back fond memories of my days there, although I must confess it is much more fun to write romance than an article for the law journal.