It was 2011. I was between my second and third year of University and like many before me, had decided what the world really needed was another critical voice covering tech and popular culture. As it turned out, getting another voice out there wasn't as easy as just writing and hoping people showed up.
My love for writing began many years earlier. One of my fondest memories of my childhood were schooldays spent inside writing short stories in my sewerage green notebooks - something that transitioned to my college years where I would squirrel myself away to the library and hand write screenplays. I remember my favourite part of writing at primary school was that teachers were always on hand to read them and leave positive remarks. Of course, they weren't all hits. It was probably all dross, though I do remember there was an alien abduction meets King Arthur tale that I loved reading back over and over again. In hindsight, I was a pretty narcissistic child.
But those days were over. The passive audience of primary school teachers was but a distant memory. I was quick to learn there wasn't an established and credible way for budding young journalists - read: "hacks" - to cut their teeth in a meaningful way without being rinsed for their time. I'd even resorted to hounding Huffington Post, and the big-time magazines like Wired, and .net but to no avail.
So, with my best friend and housemate, I took it upon myself to take on my first website project and built The Rough Cut Slate, a platform for budding - student - reviewers and feature writers to hone their style and voice.
Needless to say, I hadn't a clue what I was doing, but I was doing it anyway. After posting a couple of reviews I managed to get some reviewer discs from indie PR companies, which in turn led to more reviews.
After 2 weeks, the blog had 6 reviews and a couple of feature pieces, all of which my friend and I had written. The model worked, we just needed to expand our writing pool and scale up.
I started gathering interest and commissioning unpaid pieces from friends of friends who'd stumbled over the blog. And after getting the first drafts back, I quickly caught the editing bug.
For the most part, the writing was pretty good. There was a clear structure to each piece, and the story flowed. But often, there was something missing. The articles just didn't quite hit the mark. I found I had a knack for helping writers understand what was missing, without being a patronising asshat. At least I hope I wasn't patronising!
As I grew into the editing and commissioning role, my friend took over more of the creation side for a while, and things started going well. I'd made some entry level contacts in the movie PR game and started offering contributors invites to blockbuster screenings, and managed to score some tickets for the Foo Fighters Wasting Light live launch movie.
For a third year student, it was freaking awesome. But as with all good things, there comes a crossroad moment that eventually leads to an end.
Like I said, it was the third year. I, my friend, and our team of 6 contributors had a bunch of coursework to do. I had a 10k word dissertation to write and a 10-minute short film to write, produce, direct and shoot, and edit, before the end of the year. And while the blog was doing well, there just wasn't a solid way to monetise at the time.
After finishing University, I was quick to land any job I could find and began work as a Social Media Exec. at a PR agency. I hadn't killed The Rough Cut Slate, but it hadn't been updated for the better part of a year. All my time was spoken for, and while I made one or two attempts to revive it, things fell by the wayside.
Like a forgotten plant left out in the sun, The Rough Cut Slate all but shrivelled and died. And In January 2013, I finally pulled the plug.
Since then, I've always strived to keep writing as part of my work. In every role, I jump at the chance to write, and when there's no writing to be done, I freelance. Over the past couple of years, I've had the pleasure of editing, authoring, and mostly ghostwriting for various blogs and companies across the globe. From small startup blogs like Blogo.com to places like the Buffer blog, of which I'm a massive fan. And now, writing this blog, I get to explore my love of writing whenever I want, on my terms.
I guess the point of it all is, while life's crossroads might direct you away from what you want to do, there's always a way to get back to it.
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