Despite all of the other things I’ve tried to be in my life, I’ve always been a writer.
This is especially true in a professional capacity. I’ve been a technical writer. I’ve written blog content. I’ve been a journalist. SEO. I’ve done so much writing in my life.
My first love was music. I wanted to be a rockstar. I especially wanted to be the front man. The lead vocalist. I wrote a lot of lyrics back then.
When I was 18 and I had first started college, I had a writing class as my first college class.
Well, technically second college class because there was a math class an hour and a half before it.
But both were my first semester, so I guess both count as my first classes.
Anyway, I ended up failing that math class. It was awful. But the writing class changed my life.
I don’t remember the first little paper we had to write, but the first big paper we had to write had the prompt:
Compare two things to one metric, and provide evidence one is stronger towards the metric.
Most people did things like Snickers vs Twix: Which is More Chocolaty? or Coca Cola vs Pepsi: Which is sweeter?
I did: Pirates vs Lumberjacks: Which is More Manly?
Now, remember I was 18 at the time. I didn’t know the things about gender that I know now.
It definitely perpetuated gender stereotypes and possibly borderline homophobic or transphobic. Not intentionally, of course. I was just young and naive and, well, ignorant of these things.
None-the-less, my professor loved it. He said everyone in his other classes always do boring things like candy bars and soda.
My creativity shined through and spoke to him.
Through out the rest of the semester I wrote a lot about how much I hated my job at the time, working as a cashier at TJ Maxx.
He loved those, too.
One day he pulled me aside and said
"Garrett, you have a voice. You need to share it. I really encourage you to pursue a career in writing."
Another day he said,
"It’s been a long time since I’ve looked forward to reading my students’ papers, but yours I look forward to."
When I went home and told my family, my dad remembered that when I was a kid I had said multiple times that I wanted to be a writer. I even wrote some short stories back then, which are all long gone now.
Probably a good thing.
Either way, he remembered that I had, as a child, aspired to be a writer.
Looking back, I remember that, too.
Somewhere along the way the allure of being a famous rockstar caught hold of me and from middle school, through high school, and in to college that was what I wanted to do.
But I was back on the idea of being a writer.
Unfortunately it was one of those things that people were often like
"Well you need to have a fall back because writers don’t make a lot at first and many never become successful."
I shouldn’t have listened, but I did, and now I’m here.
Which I suppose isn’t so bad.
Since then, I got into writing poetry when I was at TJ Maxx, to help pass the time up at the customer service desk.
I got in trouble a few times for anti-work poems in the break room, but otherwise most of them were silly and I would post them around the customer service desk.
Sometimes I would pre-write a bunch and slip them into people’s bags. Those were all happy and positive poems. I hope they enjoyed them.
After TJ Maxx I briefly was in the USAF, then worked in another retail store for a few months, then did a year in a restaurant.
During the few months in the store, I started my first blog on Orble.com, and during the year in the restaurant I started learning about SEO and even did a bit of content and data entry stuff for a small coupon website.
After that I got a job working for a small SEO firm, which for a couple years was mostly me copying and pasting content. There wasn’t much writing, but I learned a lot those years.
The founder, who took me under his wing and taught me a lot of what I know, is still a good friend of mine.
During that time I also took up some journalism jobs writing for a music magazine and then some work for Bankrate.com.
I decided I wanted to write video games, so I went to college to get a degree in video game design.
Then I ended up back at the SEO company but they had pivoted to building marketing software.
That was a new writing experience for me as they hired me to become their in-house technical writer.
I actually really enjoyed that job.
I eventually quit when they didn’t have any more technical writing work for me. I briefly tried working with an indie game company but it turned out I wasn’t about what they were about, so I quit that, too.
Shortly after, I wrote a course, and my first book, about marketing on Tumblr.
Those didn’t make much money but I ended up getting a job doing SEO and internet marketing for a substance abuse rehab. I got to do a lot of writing there, but eventually hired a writer and just optimized the content after it was written.
The rehab sold and we started our own marketing company, where I continued my SEO and project management there.
I hope this isn’t a boring story because it’s helping me. Are you enjoying it?
That company didn’t do well (not my fault!) and now I work for the American Institute of Building Design (AIBD) as the Communications Director.
Do you know what a really common form of communication is?
I’m still a writer.
All this time I have been a writer. In many capacities. I never stopped writing.
I may not have always been writing what I wanted to write. In fact, most of the time, I’m not writing what I want to write.
But I am writing what I need to write to do the job, and my job is writing.
And that makes me happy, because I made it.
I wanted to be a professional writer, and I made it.
I just hadn’t realized it because I was too busy writing.
And now I just need to pivot to being the writer I want to be, rather than the one who just writes for money.