AUTHOR, MARK FLAGEL
I was born in Los Angeles, California, in September 1958. I grew up in a blue collar, middle class neighborhood in Westminster, then moved to Long Beach in 1974. I graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1976. (A big thank you to Dave Burcham, my Government teacher at Wilson, who never let me argue a position I believed in and in so doing taught me more about perspective and understanding than I -- a kid who, before meeting him, thought he knew everything -- ever could have hoped to learn.)
I attended UCLA from 1976-1980, and in June 1980 earned my Bachelor’s degree in Political Science, Magna cum Laude.
Even then I wanted to become a writer, but I suspected that earning a living as a writer would be difficult. So I took a safer course, went to law school at UC Berkeley, and in May 1983 earned my Juris Doctor degree, Order of the Coif.
It took a few years, but I found that I enjoyed practicing law, and felt I was good at it. So I stifled my desire to become a writer and practiced law for the next 31 years. I kept telling myself I was building a wealth of experience to draw upon when I finally decide to return – or, I suppose, turn in the first instance – to my passion.
So here I am. I pulled the trigger and retired from law at the end of March 2014. No regrets. I enjoyed most of the 31 years in which I practiced, and now I’m enjoying a new path. A new adventure. An unknown.
I admit to being a little sad and a little apprehensive. Sad because, having put pen to paper, I realize that the 56 year old man I am now can never write the things the 20-something me could have written had I chosen a different path those many years ago. Apprehensive because, after years of reasonable success practicing law, there are no guaranteed pathways to success as a writer, and I’m already starting to feel humbled by the experience.
That said, I have fastened my seatbelt, jumped in with both feet, and am eager to enjoy the ride, wherever it takes me and however it ends up.
Fortunately, my wonderful family has my back. My beautiful wife Sandra, who was worried I’d be spending too much time at home after I retired from law, is happy I have this passion and is hopeful it works out so I won’t impede her independence! On a more serious note, she’s always been supportive of my writing even to the point of encouraging me to do it in the past, when that choice would have led to financial hardship. I’m grateful for that kind of support and encouragement. My kids are all terrific and supportive in their own ways, and by living good lives they make me proud every day.