Tuesday, February 14, 2006

From Prison to a Four-Book Deal

I am not exactly a Street Lit fan, but I am very happy and excited for this brother, Dewitt Gilmore. Using the pen name Relentless Aaron, he has just signed a six-figure deal with St. Martin's Press.

Like many subway riders in New York, I have observed Gilmore several times as he passed through the cars to sell his books.

Aggressive "guerrilla" marketer he may be, but he was always very respectful and cool as he passed through the cars, quietly describing his book. He was never pushy and he definitely never bugged you. His approach was such that most riders who would normally ignore assorted characters who pass through the train (begging, selling, singing) would actually stop to listen to him.

Gilmore began writing in prison, where he served seven years for check fraud. When he was released, he had 30 completed manuscripts.

He told the New York Times that he used every spare moment of his time in prison writing.

"For me, jail was like spending seven years in a writer's studio. Most guys in prison complain that time drags by. But there weren't enough hours in the day for me. It's true, there are too many distractions on the outside," he said. "Sometimes I have to lock myself in a hotel room with no phone or TV. Sometimes I just get in my truck and drive to a deserted place for a while. But I'll never have it as good as prison again. For writing, anyway."

I wish him the best -- and I hope his story inspires other prisoners to try for their own success in whatever they do once they are released.