I was invited to take part in a Career Fair at my children’s school a couple of weeks ago and I accepted the invitation with great delight: I would have been thrilled to hear someone talk about how to create a career as a writer when I was 13!
I’ve been a writer since I could hold a pencil. As a child I used to climb into the back yard apple tree and write the hours away in great contentment. As a teenager, I wrote poetry and entered essay contests, two of which I won.
By the end of high school I had decided to become a journalist, mostly since that was the only occupation I knew of that was centered around writing for a living. I headed off to Queen’s University to pursue a degree in Political Studies and while I was there I strayed into the offices of The Queen’s Journal, our student newspaper. I practically lived there ever after!
We published three times a week and there was a constant demand for news articles. The more experienced writers coached and edited the younger ones and it proved to be a great training ground for many people who are today making a difference in many aspects of Canadian life.
After graduation I freelanced for a weekly business newspaper and worked part-time at the London Free Press as a Neighborhood News reporter. Eventually I gained contract work as the Free Press’s Homes and Features writer and by the time the contract ended I had found work at Canadian Press in Toronto.
I didn’t last long at CP – the overnight shift was hard for me and the pay was minimal. So in due course I was offered the job of media relations officer for the Ontario Ministry of Health. This assignment required me to write speeches, press releases and briefing reports for the Minister’s use and I also fielded questions from reporters about Ministry projects, initiatives and policies.
Somewhere along the line I got married, moved to England for a couple of years, had a baby, and returned to Canada in search of work. I was fortunate to connect with a highly competitive boutique marketing agency and I spent a few years there writing a broad range of materials from brochures and advertisements to newsletter copy, sales letters and press materials. By the time I left to build my own freelance writing service, I had extended my skill set quite substantially.
By the time I was pregnant with my second child (following a divorce and a new marriage) I had begun writing the novel that Manor House Publishing gave life to late last year as “Shades of Teale.” It was a dream come true! Today, I am still working as a freelancer providing corporate communications and marketing support to Canadian businesses – but I am also giving my creative side the attention it also needs by writing short stories and starting work on the sequel to “Shades of Teale.” It’s a busy life and so very, very rewarding!
If I had to offer some advice to any young people considering a career as a writer I would say:
There are many naysayers out there who feel a writing career is a lousy way to make a living. My response to that is always “if you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen.”
Good luck with your own writing efforts!