I was one of those nerdy kids in school who always won the Read-a-Thon contest. And, when we got the little newsprint order forms on book day, I made sure I returned mine the next day with my hefty order.
Fortunately, my parents supported my habit – and encouraged me to do stalker-like things, such as writing to my favorite authors (Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume)… Am I dating myself? They both did write back, by the way. And I still have their letters.
That early fascination with words on paper continued to grow over the years as I graduated to coercing my older sister into writing homespun newspapers. What a hoot they are to read today!
Then in high school and college, my obsession with print and words continued as I worked on the yearbook and newspaper.
The real thrill, however, began when I started getting paid to write as a reporter for a small daily Ohio newspaper. What college student doesn’t love extra cash in her pockets? My first front-page assignment was to write about El Niño’s impact on farmers. While many might have found the topic boring or too ‘agricultural,’ I was ecstatic. Unbeknownst to my editor, who apologized profusely about the story topic, I’d grown up in rural Pennsylvania in the middle of my grandfather’s 200-acre dairy farm. The assignment was perfect.
Since my college years, my writing career has turned into its own weather phenomenon: a whirlwind of sorts. I blink, and I’m not sure where the time has gone. But after working in a handful of higher education and corporate communications jobs over the years, I probably wouldn’t change much. Except, maybe if I’d known that you could get paid to write movies, I’d have pursued a screenwriting career. In my high school, if you excelled in English, you became an English teacher. Period. (And, yes, I am certified to teach 7-12 English and communications, though I chose a PR/editor position as my first job.)
After eight years of working for someone else, I decided, in 2001, it was time to fly solo as a freelancer. Sadly, the decision was spurred by the death of my sister-in-law, who lost her battle with breast cancer at age 40. Her passing was a wake-up call that life is too short. And since I’d always talked about starting my own writing business, I decided I should just do it.
It was the best decision I ever made, paying better than any of my previous jobs and giving me the flexibility to pursue my creative writing thirst as well.
In October 2009 (yes… it took me awhile), I finished my first novel and am now awaiting contest results/seeking agent representation. For me, this moment is what all the other moments in my career have led up to. Like everyone else out there, I’d love nothing more than to transition to fulltime novelist in coming years.
Until that happens, though, I will continue to enjoy the thrill of learning about new topics and meeting fascinating people as I write magazine articles, brochures, newsletters, Websites, whitepapers, bios – and all that other fun stuff.
And, of course, I will continue that childhood passion of reading books … and my adult passion of writing them.
Articles written by Melissa for Necessary Writers:
- Thinking Freelance? Melissa’s Getting Started Tips
- The Notebook: A Writer’s Secret Weapon
- Take a Risk with Your Next Assignment
- Creating Believable Characters: With The Enneagram
- Embrace the Stories Around You
- Your Next Scene: Right Before Your Eyes?
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