The story of how our lives now intersect begins in a book, as it should.
As a child, I was awed by Aslan, entranced by Encyclopedia Brown, and bowled over by Calvin and Hobbes.
As a teenager, I fell for the classics: A Tale of Two Cities, Crime and Punishment, The Count of Monte Cristo. (Two of those are still among my all-time favorite books.)
I was the odd kid who read the dictionary and relished the rare moment to display my sesquipedalian tendencies.
Except I never really spoke up.
But I would read and I would write.
Yet I never wrote anything of length, and I seldom let anyone see what I’d written.
Until senior-year English in high school, when a teacher called out my talent in a few simple words: “You’re a good writer.”
I hadn’t thought I was much good at anything until then.
(To be honest, most days I still wonder.)
But I also know that even accomplished writers face that doubt. It’s part of the profession.
The muddling middle
Encouraged by her words, I pursued an English degree (with a religion minor) at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.
Post-college, I worked at a bookstore and then at the strangest job I’ve ever had: as a proofreader for the Texas Senate.
In the basement of the Capitol building in Austin, I worked alongside four other English nerds to proofread bills and laws. (For the Texas history buffs, that was 2003, most notable for 50 Democratic leaders fleeing to Oklahoma.)
Following that fascinating time and work, a church where I had long played drums hired me. I was eventually granted the (self-given) title of Director of Media and Communications.
In all that time, I dabbled in writing at best.
While it was part of each job I had, it was a minor part.
In 2010, I moved to Dallas to be closer to family and to pursue a career—in writing.
To be a writer
The job hunt began inauspiciously.
I answered a Craigslist ad by a law firm looking for SEO writers. I’d eventually graduate from working from home on a part-time basis to being given a full-time position onsite.
I also married my intelligent and supportive wife around this time. That’s an important detail.
After less than a year with the law firm, a fitting opportunity arose for me to become an online editor for a Christian website. For three years I read and edited hundreds of articles and thoroughly appreciated the friends I made there.
Even though I was circling like a vulture around my hope to be a real writer, I still wasn’t writing anything of substance.
Then a little show called Breaking Bad broke open the world of writing to me.
To condense a long story, I ultimately chose to write The Gospel According to Breaking Bad for no other reason than to prove to myself that I could write a book.
Completing that project and releasing it into the world unlocked something within me. Writing itself didn’t become easier; rather, the knowledge that I could finish gave me the courage to start.
I’m not a runner, but I have to imagine it’s similar to how a marathoner feels after having completed their first marathon.
Fifteen years after my high school teacher had spoken those four key words to me, I finally started to believe her.
Working as an editor and writer
Sadly, the faith-based website eventually folded. But that gave me an opportunity to pursue a long-held, quiet secret: full-time freelancing as an editor and author.
Except I was not on my own, and I could not make such a decision solo. At this time, my wife and I were also considering having a child.
I asked if I should go into full-time freelance work.
She said, “Let’s give it six months.”
Her encouragement gave me the confidence to pursue what I thought would be a daunting career. But it was—and continues to be—so rewarding.
While I was a full-time, freelance editor, author, and ghostwriter, I was humbled and grateful to work on many impressive projects, including an early developmental edit of Atomic Habits, which has now sold more than 15 million copies.
I found time to write a few more books and articles of my own, mostly about writing, editing, and publishing. And I got to work with bright clients whose books I was glad to help shepherd into the world.
During this time, my wife and I happily welcomed our son into the world. (He wants to be a writer someday, God bless him.)
Then, in 2019, one of my contract clients became my full-time employer.
So, while I’m no longer freelancing full-time, I do take clients on a limited basis.
Where your story meets mine
Which brings us to right now.
If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for taking the journey.
Now you know more about me.
Tell me about you.
And how can we get that to the world?