Who the hell am I, anyway?*
*Not anyways. Don’t use ‘anyways.’ Consider that your first free tip.
I’d have starved a long time ago if not for the ability to spin a good yarn. Of course, writing hasn’t always delivered shining
moments in my life. Let’s take a gander, shall we?
New York State welcomes me to the world.
All reports indicate I don’t come out of the womb with pen in hand; so much for a head start.
I’m placed in an advanced reading class in 2nd grade; but at the time I sign all birthday cards to my mother with “The scientist.”
Spoiler alert: I do not grow up to become a scientist. At least not yet.
I write my first poem. It goes something like:
Explosives explode. Boom, boom, boom.
If one lands here then we’re all in doom.
We’ll just leave it at that. No need to kick a man (well, actually, I was just a 6th-grader) when he’s down.
For my encore, I write a series of songs dedicated to my crush, MP. I title them Love Cuts Like a Knife and Unrequited Love.
After a rather unremarkable career in school, I’m asked to write the poem to be featured on the last page of the yearbook.
This “gig” is the first time I feel utter dread and am certain I’ll fail miserably and be laughed out of town.
It won’t be the last time I feel this way.
1996 – 2000
Aside from a 2nd-year forgettable stint at Suffolk U in Boston, I spend my years at New Hampshire College (which eventually puffs out its chest and becomes Southern New Hampshire University).
Strangely enough, that forgettable year at Suffolk produces the most unforgettable moment in my collegiate (and entire) writing career.
It takes place in broadcasting class. The assignment is to write and perform a narrative that describes a setting without revealing that setting to the audience until the end.
I forget about the assignment (on par for my Suffolk year) until I get into the city the morning of my performance.
I have two hours to kill, so I start writing. It should be crap. It should be awful. Instead, what I write silences the room.
They are left literally speechless. It’s the first time I experience the power of storytelling. I’m hooked.
(The story I wrote was called A Letter to the Man Who’s Called My Father. I’d be happy to share it with you. Just shoot me an email. )
Sept. 10, 2001, to be exact. My first day as a reporter. After quitting a high-paying job I become a reporter at a small-time NH weekly paper for 18k a year.
Life is perfect.
Except when I get to the office my second day on the job, which happens to be our deadline day. That’s when two towers fall in my hometown. Everything changes. And there I am, pad in my hand, having to make sense of it all.
I move on from my small-town NH paper to another small-town NH paper.
Get paid crap. Write about council meetings, school plays and some pretty cool features. My editor loves a “juicy story,” so I cover court cases too.
My brother-in-law dies in a nightclub fire in Rhode Island, along with 99 other people. My family visits the site; the street leading up to the makeshift memorial is littered with media. I think to myself, this is the career I chose? No thanks.
2004 – 2010
Something of a whirlwind.
A failed venture to volunteer across country in Seattle. A new job at a hip alt-weekly in Manchester, NH as the music and nightlife editor. Moonlighting as a videographer.
Move home to my parents house. Get a master’s degree in education. Move back to N.H. Get a dog. Teach for a while. Moved to Brooklyn. Teach some more. Wondering why I’m not writing.
Too bad print journalism is now deader than a dodo bird. Ah, what to do, what to do.
2011 – Now
Decide to quit it all and spin pizzas while I figure out how to “be a writer” again. I find Elance. And Heather Lloyd-Martin’s SEO Copywriting class. Realize I can make a living as a writer and not have to commute to work.
I get a short story published in Slice magazine. My earnings? $100. There has to be a better way!
I stumble upon terms I’d never heard before: SEO, Keyword Research, Content Marketing, Landing Pages, Conversions …
Simultaneously, I continue to craft short stories and a couple of novels, determined to pursue my ultimate career goal, to become a storytelling mullet:
Business in the front. Party in the back.
These days my head might be shaved but I have the spirit of Billy Ray Cyrus. In other words, I spend my days writing for business and pleasure.
And, taking a page out of my teaching background, I decided it fair time to share what I’ve learned with others on a similar path.
Looks like I’m still doing OK.
At least I’m not starving.