Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fred Afflerbach: From trucker to novelist

By Kathryn Parker

Fred Afflerbach spoke with students about his book “Roll On” and his career as a big rig trucker Oct. 30 for Mass Comm Week.

After a few semesters of attending Texas State University, Afflerbach decided to leave school and get his commercial driver’s license.

“I found a job with a moving truck company in Austin and my idea was that I was going to learn how to drive tractor trailers and work my way up,” said Afflerbach. “Instead of getting my diploma I was going to get my commercial driver’s license.”  

Afflerbach moved up the chain of command. By the time his friends were graduating from college Afflerbach bought his first diesel rig and joined the fraternity of independent truckers that made long hauls across the country.

“Why hadn't I heard about these guys,” said Afflerbach. “They were part of a long line of wanderers in this country."

Afflerbach wanted to write about these independent “old timers.”

Afflerbach entered a Mark Twain essay contest for truckers but didn't win the first time he entered so he got serious and bought his first computer and soon began writing for trucker tabloids.

After taking a break from the road, and starting a family, Afflerbach went back to school at Texas State University.

While in school Afflerbach wrote for the University Star and had columns published in the San Antonio Express-News, but his momentum in journalism began to slow after graduation when the recession hit.  

“Roll On” took two years to write, a year to publish and a year to edit and release.

“Don’t put your eggs in one basket,” said Afflerbach about sending manuscripts to publishers, and recommends that those looking for a publisher send out as many as possible instead of one at a time.

Some students were inspired by Afflerbach’s courage to leave school and drive big rigs across the country.

 “I thought it was very inspiring since I wouldn't have, you know, the courage to up and quit school and become a trucker or whatever,” said Lauren Welch, journalism junior, 20. “If I could I would, you know, quit school, but I have to get that degree.”

 “I thought it was inspiring because he found his passion in college and that’s what college is for,” said Montreal Williams, journalism junior, 22, when asked what he thought of Afflerbach’s story.

Glen Tadych, journalism senior, 22 and aspiring writer, found the information about publishing very helpful. 
 “If you’re writing a novel you can get it published if you know who to send it to, and you know which publishers to look into,” said Tadych. “If you do the right research you can find the right publisher to publish your book.”

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