I often say to my students that the best job they can have is being a journalist. After more than 35 years in the business, I still think being a writer is wonderful. You get to tell stories, get a taste of the variety of life, learn something new every day, explore worlds that most people never have the chance to do – and get paid for it.
I received my first byline on a story in late 1975, a review of Paul Simon’s album “Still Crazy After All These Years,” published in the University of Western Ontario (now Western University) student newspaper, The Gazette, when I was majoring in journalism. I remember seeing someone reading the article at a table in the Social Sciences building, and I wanted to say out loud “hey, I wrote that, you know.” A year later, I sold my first article, for $50 as I recall, to the London Free Press where I would later work as a reporter. It was about how Latin as a language course was starting to dwindle in popularity in schools. I had the article laminated and hung it on my wall for several years.
To this day, I still like the thrill of a byline even when I know that most people (except other writers) don’t even notice the name on the story. If I may clash with the late B.B. King, I would say the thrill of being paid to be a writer is NOT gone, baby.
While most of my professional time is taken up as a lecturer at Western, I still write when I can. When you go to the Services & Samples page, you’ll see the kind of work I do for clients and examples of my published writing. I’ve had a couple of thousand articles published in about 80 magazines and newspapers over the years and have co-authored or been a contributing author to a dozen books. It’s great to make a living from what I studied in university, and I suspect that I will probably always write. If that sounds still crazy after all these years, then so be it. As Steve Martin once said about his own writing, “I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.”