J O R G E C A S U S O
As an English major, I spent my time reading and studying how stories are made. I wanted to be an author, but after graduating, I stumbled into journalism at a small community newspaper run from a basement in Chicago's South Side.There, I wrote my first published articles on the back of press releases using a 1930s typewriter that was new when the paper was launched.
At once, I loved the excitement of telling stories on deadline and seeing my name in print. I told myself that journalism was good training for a fiction writer, that it opened doors to worlds I could never otherwise enter and taught me how to squeeze words into tight spaces.
By the time I moved on to a major metropolitan daily, the Chicago Sun-Times, I had fallen in love with “newspapering.” There, in a newsroom larger than any work space I had ever seen, I was mentored by veteran reporters who still used typewriters (electric, this time) and found their stories on the streets.
Again, I told myself that it would all come in handy when I started writing my own stories. But it was news articles I continued to write. They became longer and more complex and turned into investigations. I became a national correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and worked as a managing editor for Miami New Times, where I led a team of young and talented writers.
Suddenly, back in my hometown, the stories I had always wanted to write somehow began to come. What I had learned all those years writing news became the style I had been struggling to find.
I wrote about the arrival of an abandoned ship that leads to a homeless murder and an artist whose work mysteriously saves the desperate from taking their lives, and found that literary journals wanted to publish them.
I wrote three long tales that trace the saga of a South Florida family before a cataclysmic flood and a novel about an underground army of homeless reporters fighting for truth in a world of fake news.
In the end, all the news I had covered -- from torrential rains to a statue weeping in a church -- had worked their way into stories that kept coming.
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