Monthly Archives: April 2013

Hey Ma! Look at Me! I’m a REAL Writer Now!

Calvin and Hobbesby Bill Watterson

Calvin and Hobbesby Bill Watterson

One of the enduring stereotypes about writers and writing is that it doesn’t pay. Anyone who thinks they can make a living from it is a poor deluded fool that the real world will quickly straighten out (You’re a writer? How quaint. Are you planning to get a real job?) This thought has existed for centuries – probably for millennia. Like any creative endeavour, there are a few wordsmiths who manage to find a way of making a livelihood from their writing, so they can keep a roof over their head and put food on the table. It’s not easy, but I’ve discovered that it can be done if you have the talent, the perseverance, and a bit of luck.

Let me emphasize that last pointa bit of luck!

I first showed a talent for writing when I was very young. When I was seven years old, I wrote a story about tornadoes for the school newspaper. The grownups who read it expressed their surprise at how well written it was. At nine, I was creating editions of a home newspaper that featured stories about the groundhogs in the backyard. When I was ten, I wrote protest poems about the Vietnam War that astonished my teachers, especially because I inserted a few choice swear words! In Grade 8, my English teacher thought my science fiction story about a journey through deep space was remarkable. In high school, my first ‘literary mentor’ was a welshman named Terence Davies. He recognized my writing skills and put me in his advanced literature classes. Later on, at the University of Victoria, my talents were encouraged by the late Dr. Gordon Elliot (SFU) and Dr. Colin Partridge (Uvic). I used my creative writing skills extensively during my 15 year career as a professional videogame designer. I wrote original stories, game concepts, mythology, and character dialogue. I also wrote game manuals and marketing materials. But I never took the time to publish any original content of my own. In the last five years, I wrote several opinion pieces that were published in the Vancouver Sun newspaper and University Affairs magazine. I contributed a chapter to a university textbook about games and learning published by IGI Global.

At the start of this year, I decided it was time to get serious about making a career of writing. I’d put it off for far too long . I wanted to find a paid position as a writer. Better late than never. I knew full well that it wasn’t going to be easy, but I recognized that I have this talent and I wanted to make a living from it. One month ago, late on a Sunday afternoon, I saw a position posted online for a copywriting position. I applied for it immediately. The next morning, the manager of the Product Content department called me. I was invited to an interview later that week on Thursday afternoon. One week later, they told me I was hired. I’m now working at the head office of Best Buy/Future Shop Canada as a member of their Product Content writing team. It’s incredibly satisfying work that challenges my creativity, marketing, and writing skills. It has the feel of working for a large newspaper, which I find energizing. It’s very deadline driven, which really makes you focus on writing effectively. The environment is great, the people are friendly, and I’ve been complimented on the quality of my writing.

Now, when someone asks me what I do for living, I can tell them I’m a writer. And it’s my real job, too!

The Grumpy Ferret (That’s MR. WRITER to you, pal!)

I’m Famous Today (Sort of) – Again

bcimagesSince I started getting serious about writing more often, I’ve been on the lookout for opportunities where I can express my thoughts publicly. I want to know if people are genuinely interested in what I have to say, or if they think I’m a completely opinionated dolt (of which there seem to be an awful lot these days). Just for fun, I submitted my name to The Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s major newspapers, to be considered for a spot on a panel of undecided voters for the 2013 British Columbia provincial election. This panel gets to voice their opinions about the election issues that concern them in BC politics. I was very fortunate to be selected as one of the 40 panel members. I’ve been contributing my thoughts to the panel. I’m really enjoying it; we have some very articulate, educated BC voters who are wrestling with the responsibility about who to vote for on May 14. Every week, the Globe and Mail publishes a selection of thoughts from the panel. I’ve been published twice in the last three weeks. It’s kind of a rush to see yourself being quoted in a major Canadian newspaper.

Here’s a quote that was published in the April 5th edition about electoral reform in British Columbia:

The FPP (first past the post) method of electing people is antiquated and doesn’t apply in our contemporary society. In 2001, the NDP had 22 per cent of the popular vote in B.C., but they only won TWO seats out of 79. That’s out-and-out stupid. Our Australian cousins use an STV (single transferable vote) system and so far they haven’t disintegrated into a kangaroo-wallaby-dingo-wombat coalition! … I say let’s do it – let’s try the STV system. – Anthony Gurr, Vancouver

Here’s a quote that was published in the April 18th edition about the challenges faced by the politicial parties in the BC election:

I would love to be able to say that I’m impressed by the parties and the leaders. But I’m not impressed, I’m not excited, and the only thing I can say is that I have a passionate dislike for them. Anthony Gurr, Vancouver

BC politics is a bloodsport. Anyone who lives here for a while gets drawn into it, no matter how much they protest that they’re really not interested. It’s sort of like saying ‘I hate professional hockey’, but you keep watching the Vancouver Canucks when playoff season arrives because you can’t help yourself 🙂

The Grumpy Ferret (‘Here we go, BC, here we go!’)