Writing Experience and Background

It started with a degree...

I "officially" began my relationship with writing in college. When I started out as a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew that I had really enjoyed Spanish and Chemistry in high school, so at the suggestion of my college advisor, I took a course in each. I also had my first college English course that first semester.

Spanish went well - I still enjoyed it but had no idea what I could possibly do with it. Chemistry, on the other hand, was out of the question after that first semester. I took Chemistry I, the easiest collegiate chemistry course in the entire school - and I could barely hang on by a thread to keep from failing it in the most miserable fashion. Chemistry was out. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed my English course as well. And so began the 4 semester battle between Spanish and English to become the course of study that I would commit to for my final two years at Pitt. English won - I found that while I loved Spanish, I had more than love - I had passion - for writing. In English. In December of 2003, that passion took object form, in the shape of a Bachelor of Arts in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh.

Knowing people has its perks....

I find that frequently in my life "right place, right time" things happen to me. At the University of Pittsburgh, I was hired as a campus tour guide my freshman year - a "Student Ambassador," if you will - a job I held all 4.5 years in school. By my junior year, however, I had a spell of time where I was "tired of it." I held on, since it was a fun job, and I was never one to quit. About the time I was debating between the perks of having the job and the feelings of freedom I would have if I quit, an eye-catching email came across the group's distribution list.

The email detailed a start-up company that was looking for interns. Writing interns. The company marketing director was the boyfriend of the woman who was the Admissions Office Advisor to the student tour group. Talk about six degrees of separation. Anyway, I got in touch with the woman in Admissions, who passed my resume on to the company, who called me in for an interview and hired me on the spot. I walked out with a folder full of paperwork and a 3 week deadline to complete my first project.

The internship turned out to be one of the best things to ever "just happen" to me. I became part of a successful start up company called CollegeProwler that I worked for from that summer in 2002 until summer of 2005. I published over 10 books with author credentials while with the company, and edited at least another 5. I got to be part of book signings and company promotions and all the great things that happen in a small publishing environment. The company is still operational today, and just as they did when I started in 2002, they publish "insider" college guidebooks for students who are heading off to college. 99% of the results that return when I google my own name comes from those books.

Then came the lull...

Once I graduated, I had no idea where to start, just like almost every newly minted college graduate. I was still working with CollegeProwler, but on an "intern" and "as needed" basis. Basically now I needed a full time job to pay the bills.

Solid, permanent writing jobs are hard to come by. And I wasn't into journalism or any of the other writing styles that most new writers can start off with. So I went in another direction and spend the first 3 years out of college hopping around, trying to find something I liked enough to stick with until I figured out what I wanted to write.

I worked a short stint at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, where the 60 hour weeks and lack of social life caused that "career" to come careening to a stop after 6 months. I then moved on to admissions with an online college, soon learning that I was not a salesperson. I've never been pushy and apparently I'm not good at trying to be pushy either. I moved into financial aid at that same college, looking for something else to do until I could really become a "writer." This is where things started to happen.

I realized, in moving into a structured environment, that I liked structure. I did well with structure. I liked having rules and I liked breaking things down. I liked training others. I became the go-to person when new financial aid folk were hired. It was about this time that I realized if I was going to be a writer, it had to be something structured. A light bulb went off in my head - and I spent the next year earning my Associates degree in Information Technology.

While all this was happening I tried to keep in the writing world. I wrote a number of process documents for the school. I also began editing for a subsidy publishing company. And when I finally earned my IT degree, I became a technical writer.

Well, it's kind of technical...and sometimes not...

I became a technical writer. Or, by title, a "Documentation Specialist." This position has allowed me to experience so many different kinds of writing and technology, I sometimes surprise myself with the things I've learned or the things I know. So, what exactly do I do as a "Documentation Specialist"?

I write help text, and lots of it. My company is a software company in a niche market, and I write a lot of help text for our programs. I write tutorials. I do video tutorials by example. I sometimes even assist with client support when the tech guys are overloaded. I write marketing material and create client surveys. I write web content. I post web content. I manage our entire website and yes, that means writing HTML. I create press releases. I create release notes and documentation for new releases of our software. I create test scripts and validation documents and perform software testing. I am a major part of our company's QA process. I am a jack of all trades.

And I love it. Most of the time. But I do occasionally miss the more subjective styles of writing. I love writing narrative, as long as it's non-fiction. My travel writing is some of my best work. I'm really good at objective, but I'd like to think that I have a subjective style that would fit in some places, too.

So, now what can I do for you...?

I would love to take on any variety of freelance projects. Any technical writing, QA writing, policy writing, etc, I have solid experience with and can do with quick turnaround. I would love to do some freelance web content. If you like my style of writing, I am looking to do blurbs and website/magazine pieces involving any of the activities I may know something about (see my About Me). I am also interested in doing some website stuff, although I am not too familiar with graphics. If you have something you need done and you can provide the graphics, contact me and we'll discuss what I can do for you.