September 19, 2011
The fun thing about people in our industry is they tend to be those who followed their dreams. They realized they had the creative chip early on and focused on a path that allowed them to unfold their innovative and inspired capabilities over time.
For me, I like to write. I realized that when I was nine years old. During that time, I’d walk around my grade school clutching a brown paper folder with dozens of my early and mostly horrid attempts at poetry. Later at age 13, I formed an acoustic group—two guitars and a hand drum—and started writing lyrics. We mostly performed at school events, parties, and in my friend’s basement. Later I recorded several demos of my own compositions at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank. It felt like I was “almost famous.”
Then, at the age of 16, something began to emerge from all this practice. Better writing. I published my first two poems at 17 through a publishing house in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district. It was nirvana for me. A hard-covered anthology with my poems on pages 34 and 78. I was definitely on my way.
These little “wins” funded and built my dream to write. In college I majored in creative writing with secondary courses in journalism. After school I moved to Seattle—a happening place— where many young “creatives” had congregated. I applied for writing jobs at a radio station, a magazine, and a large medical center. I had no clue about what type of job would be best; all I knew was that I wanted to be paid to write. Then my moment came. I got a call to join the public relations staff at Virginia Mason Medical Center. My job responsibilities were to edit their monthly newsletter, write news releases, and serve as in-house photographer—another skill I picked up along the way. The funny thing was I knew nothing about public relations. Later it became my career path. Life was good; my dream was coming true.
I’ve often felt that writing is like assembling a gigantic word puzzle. Instead of small, oddly-shaped puzzle pieces, a writer searches for bits of personal thoughts, emotions, and experiences to embrace an idea while simultaneously beckoning the exact words to express it. Fortunately, our language offers considerable fodder for writers. The second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary contains 171,476 words. Over half of these words are nouns, about a quarter adjectives, and about a seventh verbs; the rest is made up of exclamations, conjunctions, prepositions, and suffixes. What a well-stocked workshop writers have—and our materials are free. Imagine that.
Like me, most of the others I work with in this industry started creating at an early age and eventually found their niche in the creative services trade. Today I’m fortunate to know and work with many brilliant, highly creative people. Each has their role in strategizing and delivering successful marketing communication projects. It’s fast-paced work carried out by those who possess endless drive and a commitment to perfection. The industry attracts a very passionate group of people who really love what they do. I often feel we’re the fortunate ones. We began with a dream we continued to follow to live the career life we imagined.