The story of how I became a writer started, as so many great stories do, with a woman. I had just enrolled at tech school but found myself unsure of a specific career path when my first girlfriend broke up with me. It was a normal, natural thing—I lived near Seattle, she was in my hometown three hours away—but the devastation that comes with the end of a high-school romance inspired me to write an essay about that hurt.
Thankfully, the essay has been lost to history—but I remember sharing it with a friend who loved it so much, she said I should have become a writer.
It had never seemed possible to make a living with words; anyone can write, I remember thinking, so what makes me so special? Just because I’d gotten A’s in my English classes and felt most alive when writing … I mean, that wasn’t enough to make a career out of it, was it?
Honestly, I’m still trying to answer that question nearly 20 years later. But I dropped out of tech school, took every writing class I could find over the next four years, graduated with my Bachelor of Arts degree in 2005, and have managed to make a living with words ever since.
Today, I earn a living as a travel writer, sharing the stories of the people and places that make the Pacific Northwest such an amazing place to live, work, and play. I’ve written one book, am writing a second, and have written for many of my favorite publications—but, most importantly, I’ve met a supportive, encouraging, and positive community of wonderful people along the way. And, as hard as it is at times, I wouldn’t trade this career for anything else in the world.
As a full-time writer, I wrote ad copy for a regional grocery store chain; covered arts and entertainment for my hometown daily newspaper; wrote social media posts and blog posts for a university’s alumni association; profiled groundbreaking researchers for a cancer research center; and wrote whitepapers, how-to articles, and marketing pieces for a company that traffics in workplace safety products.
I wanted a bit more freedom than my career had afforded me, so in 2017 I became a freelance travel writer. I’ve written marketing copy, in-depth travel pieces, profiles of really interesting people, and (most recently) a guidebook to great hikes around Oregon. At any given time, I usually do part-time work with 2-4 clients and have 4-5 assignments for magazines or online publications and I get to make my own schedule.
What do you wish you had known when you were a high school senior?
I wasn’t aware of the sheer volume of opportunities that existed for writers; I assumed I’d have to work for newspapers or magazines, never realizing that companies of all sizes would use writers to create articles for trade publications, internal and external newsletters, annual reports, travel guides, full-fledged books—really, the possibilities are endless.
Whether writers want to work for a company or organization, write for themselves, or some combination of the two, a career path is definitely possible—and no two careers look alike. So I wish I would have known about those opportunities earlier on, and that I wouldn’t have to follow one specific path after graduating.