Feather & Flint

How I Came to Be a Writer

January 8, 2017 45 Comments

I was twenty-three when I found my way back to the career that I was destined for—or rather, when it found me.

Becoming a Writer: My Story

Becoming a Writer: My Story

When I was five, I wanted to be a part-time writer, illustrator, and paleontologist—and possibly the first female president.

When I was seven, I dog-eared the pages of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s “How I Came to Be a Writer” until they disintegrated.

When I was nine, I became the first student editor of the school newspaper—a smart move on my teacher’s part, who was likely tired of me correcting his spelling and grammar during class.

Becoming a Writer: My Story

When I was eleven, my first story was published.

When I was thirteen, I wrote my first break-up song.

When I was fifteen, poetry and songwriting were my respite from the intense depression and anxiety that I had always battled.

Becoming a Writer: My Story

When I was seventeen, I was accepted to Berklee College of Music after auditioning with a song that I’d written.

I was eighteen years old when I moved to Boston to pursue a career in music. I was two months into my first semester when the perfect storm hit: A traumatizing break-up, a severe bout of acid reflux, and a steady stream of musical inspiration from all sides. I had a million things to say, but my ability to sing had been taken away. The only thing left to do was to develop my songwriting abilities.

Becoming a Writer: My Story

I wrote song after song—some for others to consume, and some that simply allowed me to process my emotions. Eventually, my voice began to return; but my confidence and passion for performing had dissipated. After nearly fifty music classes, it was my writing classes where I felt the most fulfilled. I didn’t have the strength to persevere in my increasingly advanced music theory courses; and so I made the decision to transfer to UMass Boston shortly before my twentieth birthday.

I had intended to study creative writing. However, after five semesters of demanding songwriting courses, I was creatively burned out. When I found simple, straightforward success in my psychology and sociology courses, I was relieved beyond belief. My ambition compelled me to race through school; and when I began my final semester just over a year later, I was afraid to lose my momentum. I relished the feeling of having something come easily to me, and I wanted to stay in that position of security for just a little bit longer.

Becoming a Writer: My Story

I applied to master’s programs and began my second degree in psychology at Brandeis when I was twenty-one. I learned a number of lessons in the course of the program, but none that I had expected to learn. I again discovered my passion for writing—first as I rigorously researched and composed my master’s thesis, which was published as a book in 2013; and again in a class where I was given the opportunity to write a series of autobiographical essays. In writing about topics that I was deeply passionate about, I innately knew that this was what I was meant to do, and it always had been. After realizing that running scientific experiments would never be my passion, I completed the program as quickly as possible, assuming that a master’s degree would benefit me no matter what. I immediately began searching high and low for writing opportunities within the field.

What I hadn’t anticipated was that having a master’s degree without real work experience wouldn’t help me—in fact, it would hurt me. Employers didn’t know what to do with a candidate who was overqualified in some ways, but underqualified in others. I went from knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my degrees to simply being desperate for any job that would hire me and value my contributions. I was ultimately unemployed for a year as I attended interview after interview for jobs that I convinced myself that I wanted. My spirit was revived each time they said that I was refreshingly different from any other candidate they’d spoken to. I envisioned myself at each of these jobs, no matter how disconnected they were from the path I wanted to be on. And when they got cold feet and never called me back, too scared to take a risk on someone with a non-traditional resume, it broke my heart every single time. You can imagine the state that I was in after a year of this. I had no idea who I was, what I wanted, or what I was good at anymore.

Becoming a Writer: My Story

Shortly before my twenty-third birthday, I answered a phone call from a number that I didn’t recognize—something that I normally wouldn’t have done. It was a recruiter, calling to ask if I was interested in working in a call center for an insurance company. (I wasn’t.) But rather than immediately ending the call, for some reason, I said, “I once had a temp job as a receptionist, and I promised myself that I’d never take a job that required me to answer phones again. But here’s what I am looking for.”

I never expected to hear from him again. However, one day, he called me and said, “I have a job that I think you’d be great for. I know that you’re not explicitly looking for writing jobs, but it seems like it’s something you’ve done a lot of in the past—should I submit you for this?” I said, “YES. PLEASE SUBMIT ME FOR THAT JOB.” The company liked my resume and sent over a writing test. It was unlike anything I’d ever done—copywriting for a tech company, which wasn’t a concept that I even fully grasped at the time. I spilled coffee all over myself five minutes before the deadline and almost didn’t respond in time. But as soon as the hiring manager—my future favorite manager—read the sample, she offered me the job. The title was “Marketing Copywriter.” (I quickly googled “what is a copywriter” and liked what I saw.) I started right away. I was nervous but excited—and relieved.

Becoming a Writer: My Story

Writing full-time couldn’t have come more naturally to me, no matter the topic. As it turned out, copywriting was the perfect challenge for my overactive mind, equal parts creative and analytical. I started off as a temp, and after my three-month contract ended, I was offered a permanent position. Eight months later, I was promoted to team lead, and I discovered that combining writing, editing, and leadership was exactly what I was meant to do with my life. When it came time for my next challenge, I took another copywriting position at a new company that I’d had my eye on. I continued to develop as a writer, but the job was kind of a nightmare; so in the fall of 2016, I was ready for something new.

This past November, when I was twenty-six, I got just the opportunity I’d been waiting for: To manage a growing company’s blog as their senior content writer and editor. I was technically underqualified, but I had also been preparing all my life; and I had finally found a company that was as convinced of my potential as I was. I was thrilled—I still am.

Becoming a Writer: My Story

When I was twenty-six, I also started a blog. (You might have heard of it—it’s called Feather & Flint.) I needed an outlet for the kind of writing that I had discovered a passion for in college, and again in grad school. I revealed a snippet of my journey as a writer in my first post:

“Writing has always been the common thread connecting each era of my life. Now, I’m three years into a career as a writer. Making a living as a full-time writer has been like returning to a long-lost country where everyone finally speaks my language.

However, in spite of the staggering number of hours that I’ve clocked in pursuit of degrees, good grades, promotions, raises, and other accolades, my most salient moments as a writer haven’t happened in school or at work. These meaningful moments have happened when I’ve worked up the courage to share my personal, just-for-fun writing with the kindred spirits that I’ve crossed paths with over the years. From acoustic songs about (surprisingly terrible) ex-boyfriends, to autobiographical pieces about living with anxiety and searching for a fulfilling career, this kind of raw honesty has been nerve-wracking but undoubtedly worth it, time after time.”

Chapter One: Why I’m Starting a Blog

In less than four months, this blog has empowered me to tell my story—from my career to my marriage, from throwing a dinner party to traveling the world. (And I’ve only just begun!) I wasn’t sure whether I’d find anyone other than my (wonderful) friends & family to listen, but I’ve already met some wonderful women who’ve shared their stories with me, too. I’m writing guest posts left and right; and last week, I had my first article published by none other than Thrive Global (Arianna Huffington’s latest venture, and a company whose mission I deeply admire). It’s been an amazing journey so far, and I truly can’t wait to show you what I’ve got up my sleeve over the next few months.

I’m twenty-six, and I finally get to do what I love from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep. I can’t wait to see what the future brings; but sometimes, I feel like I’m already there.

Becoming a Writer: My Story | Feather & Flint

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45 Comments

  1. Reply

    Nicole Kauffman

    January 9, 2017

    Love to hear the stories behind the blog! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 10, 2017

      Thanks for reading, Nicole – I’m so glad you liked it! 🙂

  2. Reply

    Roy Miller

    January 9, 2017

    Congratulations. Copywriting is a very lucrative profession.

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 10, 2017

      Thanks, Roy! I was just so glad to find out that something I had a natural affinity for is a valuable skill in the marketing world – I lucked out!

  3. Reply

    Rose

    January 9, 2017

    I always love reading writers’ back stories! I’m so glad you’ve found a career that you love so much.

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 10, 2017

      Thanks so much, Rose! I really love it too – finding out how people discovered the passion is SO interesting!

  4. Reply

    Anonymous

    January 9, 2017

    Wow…What a powerful post…I loved reading your story and am definitely subscribing to you now…I feel as if I just have to know what’s coming next. 😛 Congratulations!

    Lauren

    http://WWW.TheZenFashionista.Com

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 10, 2017

      Thank you so much, Lauren – that means so much to me 🙂 I can’t wait to see what happens next, either!!

  5. Reply

    Becky

    January 9, 2017

    It just warms my heart and gets me all excited for you reading this post! I love that you have found and settled into your passion – what a gift! Your writing is absolutely lovely and a woman living out her passion is a powerful force!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 10, 2017

      Thank you so much, Becky – this seriously made my day!!

  6. Reply

    Wendy Young

    January 10, 2017

    It makes me so proud and happy to see you successfully follow your dreams and use all your natural creativity in your life! Keep following your own unique and wonderful path. Love you!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 10, 2017

      Thank you so much, Mom 🙂 Love you too!

  7. Reply

    Stefanie Flynn

    January 10, 2017

    This is an awesome post! I started my blog to have an outlet instead of just being a SAHM. I really want to get into writing more but am so nervous. This is so encouraging to know that you’ve done so well!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 10, 2017

      Thanks, Stefanie – so glad you liked it!! Starting a blog is something that I definitely thought about for a long time before finally getting a burst of motivation to actually do it. Each post takes more courage to tell the truth about my own story, but it’s always paid off tenfold because of the connections that I make and the stories I get to hear. Definitely take risks when it comes to vulnerability – I think it’ll be worth it! Best of luck 🙂

  8. Reply

    Brittney

    January 10, 2017

    What an incredible story! So excited for you!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 10, 2017

      Thanks so much, Brittney – I really appreciate that! 🙂

  9. Reply

    Sarah Jean althouse

    January 11, 2017

    Congrats on finding your way back to writing and on the new gig!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 12, 2017

      Thank you so much!! I’m so excited 🙂

  10. Reply

    candy

    January 11, 2017

    Sounds like even at a young age you knew you would end up being a writer. Congratulations.

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 12, 2017

      I really did. I’m just so happy that my childhood dream was something I could actually get a job in as an adult!

  11. Reply

    Abbey

    January 11, 2017

    Oh, I love this! The best stories are the ones with twists and turns, and it sounds like yours had plenty of those! I’m so glad you are happy and pursuing what you love! 🙂

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 13, 2017

      Thank you so much, Abbey! You’re so right–stories are better for their twists and turns. It’s just hard to see that in the moment when you don’t know where you’re ultimately headed, but it makes me grateful in retrospect!

  12. Reply

    Callie K

    January 12, 2017

    What a fantastic story. I truly enjoyed reading this! Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful writing with us all! 🙂

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 13, 2017

      Thank you, Callie!! Honestly, thank you for reading my writing–I enjoy the work intrinsically, but it’s hearing people’s responses that makes it truly fulfilling!

  13. Reply

    Kimberly

    January 12, 2017

    Congrats! So happy you were able to get back to your love as your career … that’s often hard to do!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 13, 2017

      Thank you, Kimberly! You’re right, I definitely feel fortunate for having a passion that happens to translate to an attainable, full-time job!

  14. Reply

    Divya@ Eat Teach Blog

    January 12, 2017

    I think you should create a separate page on your blog for this post. It’s so interesting to read about how you were a writer all along and all of these things that happened along the way just shaped you into who you are today!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 13, 2017

      That’s an awesome idea–thanks, Divya! I’m going to look into that!

  15. Reply

    Lisa Sell

    January 13, 2017

    I love hearing fellow writers’ stories as to how they came to be writers. We all have trod interesting paths that’s for sure! Like you, I had the same issue with gaining a Masters. Prospective employers just wouldn’t trust that someone so qualified wouldn’t want to steal their job or leave as soon as something better came along. So frustrating!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 13, 2017

      Hi Lisa – Ugh, that’s so frustrating–I’m sorry that happened to you, too! When you’ve worked so hard for something, it’s so difficult to find out that not only will it not help you to get a job – it could even hurt your chances. It’s terrible that people don’t find that out before they decide to go to grad school – we all need to talk about it more openly (which gets easier when you realize it wasn’t just you who experienced it!). Thanks so much for your comment!

  16. Reply

    KatrinaJeanCarter

    January 13, 2017

    Aww hun, thanks for opening up to us 🙂 It’s nice to have a glimpse of how your writing came to be. I admire your determination and will not to give up on having goals an dreams for yourself. I find it amazing that no matter what happened, life always brought you back to writing. <3 Here's to an amazing 2017 filled with writing and life success.

    Much love,
    lakatwoman

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 13, 2017

      Thank you so much, Katrina – that means a lot to me!! Cheers to a happy, successful 2017 for you, too 🙂

  17. Reply

    Yami | BossLatina

    January 13, 2017

    Isn’t it funny how the most amazing things happen by chance? It’s like you were meant to get that phone call that day. Loved the story!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 16, 2017

      Exactly – the circumstances really were uncanny. It was time for things to fall into place, I guess! Thank you 🙂

  18. Reply

    Julia

    January 14, 2017

    You had such an interesting journey! I started my blog for similar reasons, I needed a creative outlet since most of the writing I do at work isn’t very interesting!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 16, 2017

      Thanks, Julia! It’s funny how you can have a job doing something you love, but you still need an outlet for your own creative passions. I guess your brain knows the difference between writing for a company’s benefit, and writing for your own benefit.

  19. Reply

    Danielle Carrier

    January 14, 2017

    This is amazing! So glad to have found a fellow writer! 🙂

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 16, 2017

      Thank you so much, Danielle 🙂

  20. Reply

    Anonymous

    January 14, 2017

    Very interesting story, so glad you found your voice!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 16, 2017

      Thanks so much 🙂

  21. Reply

    Eugenia

    January 14, 2017

    What an amazing story you’ve shared with us! Everything happens for a reason and I think writing is what you have to continue doing in your life! Copywriting is very interesting and creative job! Glad you launched your personal blog too! Keep up the great work!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 16, 2017

      Thank you so much, Eugenia – you’re so sweet! 🙂

  22. Reply

    Samantha

    January 15, 2017

    So happy you are pursuing what you love!!! You are a fantastic writer !!!! I really enjoy your posts !!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 16, 2017

      That means a lot to me, Samantha – thank you so much!

  23. Reply

    Margaret Babatunde

    January 17, 2017

    Very interesting read

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