I grew up with a writer dad. As an adolescent, I often helped him with research, interviews, and flow editing. Sometimes he’d ask me to write a chapter section or news piece and then we’d edit it collaboratively together. It turned out the wily old goat was teaching me to use the written language properly, but I only realized that years later. At the time, it just seemed like fun.
Working with my dad turned into ad-hoc ghostwriting in my late teens, and I have a number of collaboratively written books (or chapters of books) squirreled away from those years that no one will ever know about. Alas.
Still, after getting my Honorable Discharge from the Marine Corps due to an injury, I was referred to a new PR agency in the Silicon Valley during the dot-com boom. A writing colleague thought I’d be great at PR, and I guess I was because I got a lot of ink for our clients. For the better part of a decade, I worked in both agency and freelance PR representing a host of clients in industries including semiconductors, KM, computer security, consumer tech, Web portals, Java IDEs, digital video, digital cameras, and imaging — the list goes on.
The funny thing is, most of what I did in PR (besides getting a lot of features and news articles for my clients) was writing or editing other people’s writing. Email pitches, business collateral, product descriptions, copywriting, and ghostwriting various contributed articles bearing CEO bylines to establish their authority in one field or another. I enjoyed the writing more than I did the rest of it. I realize now that it kept my art honed, while continual learning at a gallop broadened my horizons.
Eventually, I quit the agency life to pursue “my happy” and went freelance. This was better for me than agency life, but still, I most enjoyed the writing and editing. After a lengthy hiatus, while trying other ways to make a living, I decided simply to go back to what I enjoyed most — being a writer/editor. That was most of what I was doing anyway (and continue to do so now).
2016 saw me continue doing more fiction writing and editing, though I copywrite and create content for my business clients. My recent scorecard:
- Ghostwrote 3 nonfiction books
- Ghostwrote 3 full-length novels
- Ghostwrote half a dozen individual scenes for authors who had hit a wall
- Edited 2 non-fiction books, 5 novels, and a baker’s dozen short stories
- Edited all manner of B2B and B2C corporate content and business collateral
- Wrote 2 whitepapers, one for a company providing satellite connection for TV stations in Africa and the Middle East (with rebroadcast to Europe and North America), and one for an all-natural health aid manufacturer
- Wrote 2 lengthy case studies
- Uploaded more blog posts than I can remember, for my own blog as well as for companies ranging from B2C to high-tech B2B clients
- Rewrote site content for 2 high-tech companies and 2 consumer product vendors
- Wrote half a dozen press releases
- Edited 2 novel queries for new authors
- Volunteered to write (technically, co-wrote) 1 middle-school book on children and Permaculture
- Volunteered to write site content for 2 charities working in Africa
- Spend innumerable hours on social media providing free help and advice to aspiring copywriters, novice fiction authors, and grassroots, community-level Permaculture organizations in Africa
All in all, 2016 was a beast of a year but a rewarding one. In addition to my work, I found time to help other writers and to volunteer my time and skills to help worthy causes in Africa. 2017 will probably end up being just as busy, although as 2016 ends I don’t have any non-fiction editing lined up, instead editing a few novels. But that can change as work flows in. In this business, everything can change with one phone call. That’s part of what makes it fun for me.
March 10, 2017: I’ve been asked to be a contributing writer to the Steam Powered Dreams blog!