When I was ten I wanted to be an archaeologist. I’m not sure if it was the idea of climbing through ancient ruins or the thought of making a world-shaking discovery that became my carrot; whichever it was, it didn’t happen. Instead I fell in love with words and went on to become a writer.
Over the years, I researched and wrote about whatever caught my fancy – from astronomy and aerospace to genealogy and technology. After a time, though, I realized that the things I loved writing about the most centered around the past. Few things gave me as much joy as writing about the places that witnessed the great events of history: the spot where Crazy Horse rode into captivity, the chamber where Franklin and Adams turned the world on its ear, or the southwestern pueblo Coronado visited five hundred years before I walked the same ground.
At first, I wrote for magazines – small trades mostly, until I built enough of a portfolio to sell to nationals. For a few years I wrote steadily for Astronomy magazine and then later became a contributing editor at Family Tree Magazine. During that same period I sold photos to accompany several articles, including a favorite I shot of an annular eclipse while standing knee-deep in the Pacific.
At some point – strangely I can’t remember when – I focused on business writing. I wrote for corporations, higher education, medicine, aerospace, and even a military service academy. I became adept at writing web copy and analyzing websites to find flaws in conversion and marketability.
Then, something happened. I read a blog post by a novelist who confessed that writing no longer gave him joy. I spent most of the day thinking about the post, pondering all of the “stuff” about my own writing that had been simmering below the surface. That evening it came bubbling out in a wash of clarity
I realized – just like the novelist – that writing no longer gave me joy. In fact, if you had asked me on that very day how I liked being a writer, I would have answered “it’s just a job”. Sometime in the last ten years I had stopped loving what I do – and that’s about as soul-sucking as it gets. No wonder I couldn’t remember the last time I jumped out of bed, eager to get into my day.
That same night I must have dreamt about the novelist because I woke up pre-dawn, wondering what had become of my passion. The answer was simple – business writing didn’t feed my creativity and now, all these years later, I wondered if I was even capable of writing a beautiful sentence.
It was in that moment that I made a decision. No longer would I add content to the blog I didn’t feel was helping anyone or that didn’t give me some amount of pleasure, nor would I seek out work that I didn’t believe in; instead I would go back to my roots and write as beautifully as I could; the craft would become my guide.
I don’t profess to know much about extraordinary writing, but I know it when I see it – and I know that years ago I wrote a handful of articles that were so good I could hardly sit still. I want to feel that way again and I invite you to join me.
If you’re tired of writing articles, books or web content that’s flat and (as my friend Jessica Macbeth would say) fizzy-less then join me here. If you think you’re not good enough, join me here. If you don’t know where to start, join me here. If you’re scared to call yourself a writer, join me here.
I’m going to be inviting guest bloggers to share their thoughts on the Art of Being a Writer. I’ll also be posting articles about what I’m learning on the journey. And once in awhile you’ll see my silly Instagram images – all reflecting the daily life of being a writer.
If this sounds intriguing, join the Revolution. Let’s discover just how beautiful our work can be.