At age 34, I’ve had three definite careers in my life. Not jobs — had a ton of those, but careers. At the time I was in each one, I thought I would do them for the rest of my life. Obviously, I changed my mind, whether my choice or force.
I started off with the plan of working radio at Olivet Nazarene University in Kankakee, IL, just south of Chicago. The radio station on campus actually has a 35,000 Watt tower, so we reached well into Chicago. I worked there throughout college and a year afterwards.
Then came newspaper. My wife and I moved to Southern Illinois, the land of few radio stations. I got a job quickly at the local newspaper as the sports editor and toiled there for over six years. Good job, but the pay wasn’t what the family needed and I always wanted to teach, so….
Then I got a degree to teach. Since 2007, I’ve been teaching high school social studies and have loved it.
All three — definite careers. And now I’ve got a fourth. Writing books.
But, as I’ve learned, I’ve been writing all along. In some careers, more than others, but the writing has never really stopped.
When I was in college, learning the broadcasting trade, one of my professors told us that being a broadcaster was “writing in your mind.” He said all good broadcasters are good writers. The writing simply takes place in your mind and then out through your mouth for the audience to hear.
Obviously, when I worked in newspaper, I wrote. I wrote a lot. Between baseball, football and volleyball stories for the sports pages, feature stories on 93-year-old harness racers and guys that make shelves out of wrought iron and even the occasional news story about taxes and school boards, I was constantly writing.
Even teaching takes writing. A lot like broadcasting, when you are lecturing or preparing lesson plans, there is a lot that takes place “in your mind,” but there is certainly tests and worksheets to write and other parts of the job that take a writer’s touch.
Now that I’m also writing books, it kind of brings it all together. The experience of writing in my mind, so I can prepare the story before I put it on paper — the varied stories I had at the newspaper that have given me a broader perspective on life, and the organization it took in teaching to form it all together.
In each job, writing was essential, but each piece alone wasn’t enough to get my writing career as an author kickstarted. I am thankful for each step along the way and know that without each piece, the stories I tell today would be just a little more empty.