“Banging [his] head against the ceiling” actually worked out pretty well for New York City author of Pitch Perfect and Theater Geek, Mickey Rapkin. As Rapkin told participants at the Horace Greeley Writers’ Conference on Saturday, October 15 in Poultney, VT, he could never quite believe what was happening as his life took twists and turns which eventually landed him a movie deal.
As a Cornell graduate who relished his time writing for the school newspaper far more than his economics classes, he went off to teach Kindergarten in Madrid. But a year later he found himself back at his parents’ home in Long Island with no job prospects, despite having sent out many resumes. Rapkin refused to give in and went on job interviews just because “it was better than lying on the couch.” One insightful interviewer recognized Rapkin’s true passion for writing and gave him a contact name which eventually secured him a job in the magazine industry. He has since worked at Details, Elle, and GQ, interviewing the likes of Gywneth Paltrow.
Wanting more than anything to write but not sure what, he remembered a story of a Cornell student who had lived in the basement of a frat house for ten years and contacted him to do a story. After many obstacles the book was written, but at the last minute the deal fell through. Although disheartened, Rapkin eventually decided to turn this setback into a positive, asked himself, “What do I know about that no one else knows?” and began writing another book on college a cappella groups. While still working at the magazine, he traveled around the country interviewing singers and ultimately wrote the book Pitch Perfect.
Sales of the book weren’t as good as Rapkin had hoped, but as he feels deeply that “when it’s just you and the page, you are alive,” Rapkin knew it was time to take another chance. His job as a senior editor at GQ was paying the rent but it was not fulfilling his desperate need to just write. In July of this year, Rapkin left the magazine to become a freelance writer. Despite fears that “every [success] is the last,” he now has published his second book, Theater Geek about the acting camp Stagedoor Manor in the Catskills. And thanks to the popularity of TV shows such as Glee and The Sing Off, his first book Pitch Perfect has been has been picked up as a movie, the filming for which begins in next few weeks.
Rapkin reminded the Horace Greeley audience of aspiring and published writers that “you can be a writer if you really want to… if you want it badly enough, you can do it.” And although his journey to Author-hood has been rocky and has felt at times like a head-banging, his success is testimony to his perseverance and self-belief. As he said, “Don’t let anyone tell you no.”