September 8, 2011
Gabe Berman wanted to be a writer, but he had a problem: Nobody would give him a chance.
"I got 500 rejection letters from every agent or publisher out there," he said. "But I always wanted to write a book from as long as I can remember."
So while he waited for that literary career to take off, Berman hopped around between what he described as "tedious and really horrible" jobs to make ends meet.
A native of Long Island, Berman kept writing on the side while his "job jumping" took him to Florida. After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, his desire to fulfill his dreams kicked into high gear.
"One of my high school classmates died in the towers," he said. "Everyone I know knows someone who died in the attacks on Sept. 11. You think about the people who were in the towers and what they were worrying about that morning, and now thousands of families are ruined forever. If that doesn't show you that life changes in a second than nothing will."
Berman continued to write every day, and after a chance encounter with a columnist from the Miami Herald, things started shifting in his favor.
"I was doing marketing for an auto leasing company at that time and one day a call came in and the woman said, 'Hi, this is Rochelle from the Miami Herald, I'd like you to write a test column,' and I literally said, 'This is a wonderful joke, but I have to go,' and I hung up on her. She called back, and I still didn't believe it," he said.
Berman eventually wrote a humorous memoir he called "Live Like a Fruit Fly" and kept banging down doors in hopes of getting it published. Why a fruit fly?
"A fruit fly lives an average of 10 days," he said. "They aren't spending time worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. They are only thinking of seizing the day."
Despite having a byline with a newspaper, Berman was still getting rejected from agents and publishers, so he decided to self-publish the book through the Amazon platform createspace.com. His words caught the attention of the same publishers as "Chicken Soup for the Soul", and now his book, "Live Like a Fruit Fly: The Secret You Already Know" (HCI), is not only published, but bestselling author Deepak Chopra gave an endorsement for the cover.
"They call my book 'self-help' but there's no formula or 10-step process or a god to believe in or a mantra to follow," he said. "I talk to you like we are peers. A trusted friend. I remind you to be a fruit fly and go after what you want because I lived to see that it works if you follow your gut and refuse to take 'no' from anybody."
And Berman hopes his story will help remind others not to lose hope, even if every door is constantly being shut in your face.
"I'm just some dude who grew up wanting to be a writer and was stuck with dead-end jobs for 10 years, and here I am being interviewed by the Chicago Tribune. You need to follow your passions and be authentic and once you do, doors will open to you. You might not get to actually play for the Cubs, but at least you are following your dreams."
Copyright © 2015 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC