I never thought I’d be a writer.
I always thought I’d be a biologist.
While I always loved reading and making up stories, I thought my adult years would find me studying bears or wolves as a wildlife biologist. I remember the moment I decided that’s what I’d be: my father and I were watching a nature show on PBS.
“That’s what I want to do when I grow up!” I said.
I was 10 years old.
The Best Laid Plans…
Advanced college chemistry classes put an end to my biology studies. When I was 20, I switched from studying biology to English, deciding that I wanted to teach high school.
Somewhere along the way, writing happened.
One of my best friends at the time was an artist who wanted to illustrate comic books. I worked on a comic book script, my friend illustrated the story, and we submitted it for publication.
My first writing submission was accepted.
In the years that followed, I wrote independent comic books. I met my wife — an artist — while working for a small comic book publisher. I supported myself for several months making up stories.
Writing was a pretty nifty thing to fall into.
A Change in the Script
Independent comic books rarely pay the bills, though. Familiar with script writing, moving to screenplays seemed like a natural leap.
The problem with screenplays: everybody has one. Or two. Hell, some people have a pile of the things! Competition is fierce, and living outside of Los Angeles reduces one’s chances of success even more.
Still, my first screenplay advanced in the Austin Film Festival’s Heart of the Screenplay competition. Through comic book contacts, I made a couple studio connections. My first two screenplays were considered by several major studios, but nothing was ever developed.
Paid to Travel
Following a layoff from my day job that allowed some time off to write, I planned to take a trip to East Texas. Looking through an old book on travel writing I bought in Taos, New Mexico on an old trip, I decided to pitch a travel article to the Dallas Morning News. I was surprised by how quickly I heard back, and even more surprised that the paper wanted to see the article after my trip.
With just a query letter, I sold my first non-fiction piece and was paid to travel.
A Novel Idea
I also wrote a novel during time off from the day job. The novel was well-received by agents, but they felt it was too quirky for them to market. (It’s a coming-of-age story about a family traveling cross-country in a possessed station wagon.)
Chatting with one of the agents, I asked what made her consider my novel. I was told my query letter was good, but that it was my non-fiction credits that got attention.
I’ve received more attention as a writer with newspaper and magazine clips than any awards or fiction credits. I’ve followed other writers who went from writing articles professionally to writing novels professionally.
That Juggling Thing
I currently juggle my time as a technical editor (aviation), writing articles and Web content, and working on fiction. I don’t make a living as a fulltime writer; I work a day job and supplement my income with writing.
I hope The Juggling Writer helps others doing the same thing; I hope this blog will become a place where we can share what works, what doesn’t, and plenty of successes.
So…that’s who I am.
Who are you?