The Daily Illini

Never too late: Author left promising career to write

By Nandika Chatterjee, Contributing Writer

Edgar Garbelotto is in an MFA program in creative writing with a concentration in fiction and a masters in translation. He currently teaches rhetoric and creative writing at the University. But this was not always his reality.

Not too long ago, Garbelotto was spending his day sitting behind a desk, spending hours working, coming home too exhausted to do some of the things he enjoyed most, like writing.

“I always wanted to write about the human experience, but life got in the way,” he said. “When you work 10 hours a day, you just get home exhausted; you do not have energy for anything.”

Finally, he decided enough was enough; he no longer wanted to do something that did not make him truly happy.

“I decided to break that pattern and dedicate myself entirely to writing,” Garbelotto said. “Now I have more time to observe and digest things and write.” 

Initially when Garbelotto made the decision to leave corporate America, many, including some friends and colleagues, were extremely surprised.

They were not fully supportive of his resolution to leave a life that had a certain financial security.

“We only have one life, and we have many interests,” Garbelotto said. “Sometimes we have to go after these different interests.”

He said some people told him he was crazy, but his own belief in his dream soon inspired most people to believe in him. This support came from close friends and family, who really knew him and his love for literature.

Garbelotto pursues creativity with discipline.“I really do not believe in writer’s block,” he said. “I believe in showing up to your desk and in having a kind of regular schedule.”

As an artist, his writing process is exemplary to some of his close friends.

“He has a work ethic like I’ve never seen before,” said Kent Quaney, a fellow lecturer and close friend who he met on his first day of the MFA program. “He is constantly working on stories and translations, working for hours and hours without rest to tackle these projects that he believes in.” 

Kyle Callert, a friend of Garbelotto’s in the same MFA program, describes him as a true artist.

“Edgar’s fiction is draped in an intoxicating style, somehow both incredibly dense and incredibly light,” Callert said. “I’ve compared it to the inside of a pound cake–thick pastry with tiny pockets of air.”

It is this discipline and style that aided Garbelotto in completing his first novel. It is a historical novel loosely based on the story of his family, Italian immigrants who came to live in Brazil during the end of the 19th century.

The novel begins in 1891, around the time when his great-grandparents first arrived in Brazil.  Beginning a writer of fiction, Garbelotto draws some facts from reality. But, the story is mostly created from his imagination.

This novel took Garbelotto about a year to complete. While he initially began writing it in English, he soon realized that to truly showcase the story of an authentic Italian family in Brazil, he had to write in Portuguese.

After he completed it, he reached out to an agent in Brazil and plans to publish the novel in Brazil soon. Following this, he also plans to publish in the United States. Garbelotto hopes to write more novels in the future.

Garbelotto’s path leads him to success; however, not everyone has to do what he did.

“I saw similarities in (Garbelotto’s) story with my own path,” Quaney said. “I respect that drive to walk away from a successful career to follow a dream.”

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