Writers live twice. — Natalie Goldberg
How did I become a professional writer?
In truth, the writing path found me. I had no plans for a career in writing, and I didn’t seek it out.
Frankly, it never even occurred to me.
I was a musician. I happily composed music and performed at church and in competitions. I studied piano, music theory, Gregorian Chant, and music philosophy.
Growing up, my teachers often pointed out how different my writing assignments turned out from my peers. I had little guidance otherwise, so I assumed being "different" meant writing wasn’t for me. I buried myself in scientific interests and my music.
Destiny wasn’t dissuaded.
My writing career officially began when I was appointed to the office of 4-H County Reporter in my late teens. There I cut my teeth on interviewing techniques and journalistic principles.
Later, I joined my first college speech club and started competing. As a shy person, I was interested in communicating effectively and fearlessly. In my pursuit of facing my shyness and fears, I embraced more and more “scary” things, like speeches and stage performances.
Everything changed the year I decided to take Shakespeare courses and became an understudy.
One day my English professor asked to speak with me after class. I still remember my professor’s opening words to me. “Want to make some money?”
He had pitched a piece of my homework to a magazine editor he knew, and the editor loved it. A different version of the same homework made me finalist in a speech competition.
Money? I was stunned. I never thought of myself as a writer. I didn’t know anything about pitching articles to magazines, but here was an opportunity—served up on a platter.
My stare was blank as I tried to wrap my head around his coaching and this sudden turn of events.
I shifted to a dual major in English Comp. and Psychology. The magazine editor sent me a check for my story and asked me to write more. Before I knew it, I was paid to write compelling stories, copy, and news.
I’ve been on the path of a method writer ever since.
One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.