Seven years ago, I was a struggling writer. I was published in three or four magazines at the time, just starting to dip my toes into photography, and my main focus was still my full-time job. At the time, I was the shipping department manager for a software company, but if you want to translate it a different way, I worked for my folks. I did spend lots of time organizing and cleaning up the shipping department, and I’d like to think that I made a positive impact on the company. But when the busy season left, I was idle a good amount of time, which became awkward.
That was around the time that I really started to explore blogging and other bloggers. I found some great writers on the web, and even began writing for fun instead of for profit. Somewhere in the process I discovered someone who would become one of my favorite authors, the Magazine Man, or as most people know him, MM.
MM writes in a way that really makes you feel like you’re sitting down next to him in your living room, just chatting like you’ve been friends forever. He can lead the reader up to a point where all they want to do is keep reading, then stop and say “to be continued,” causing everyone to moan and beg for that next post to come up. He creates anticipation, but also rewards the reader with heartwarming tales about his family and his dog; He’s an amazing writer. I’ve followed his blog ever since I discovered it seven years ago, and even though he doesn’t update it very frequently, it’s still a great read every time.
When I became the editor at Rebel, I knew that I wanted to bring in some of the writers that I admired and put them up on a national platform. Not everyone I e-mailed replied, and that was a bit disappointing, but when MM sent back an e-mail saying that he’d be interested, I was ecstatic. He ended up writing a story for the magazine about Christmas and his son, and it was just perfect. So perfect that even after I left the magazine, Rebel still wanted him to write for them.
When I left Rebel, I reached out to MM. I knew he was the editor at a national magazine, and I figured I’d see if I could get some freelance work. Sure enough, he assigned me a 500-word story and after that was turned in, he asked me to go out and shoot some pics too. It didn’t matter that I had no experience writing for that type of magazine, I still was given a chance to show what I could do, and I appreciated it.
The magazine (pictured above) is called Healthy Cooking. For a guy who clocks in over 250 lbs, “healthy” doesn’t generally come up with my name. But besides that, the article was about community supported agriculture (also called a CSA), and a local farmer here in town. Fascinating stuff, really, so go out an buy the magazine. One of my pictures is in the table of contents, and the article is on page 38.
So what makes this such a big deal? Healthy Cooking is a part of the Reader’s Digest family of magazines, and now I’m in their system. That means that I can pitch to other editors in the company, and use that as an entry point. The pay is more than good, and it’s paid within 30 days of acceptance, not of publication. If all of my magazines did that, I’d have a ton more cash in my hand, that’s for sure. It’s like I’ve been playing minor league ball for years and the Red Sox just called me up to play first base; It’s that big of a deal to me.
I’ve got quite a few things in the works for this year, and seeing this article in print makes me think I’m on the right path. I’m always going to shoot custom cars and trucks, and I’ll always still be a car guy, but being able to get my words out into a whole different demographic is really quite cool, and the start of something bigger.
Looking back, it’s kind of funny that my lack of productivity seven years ago lead me to a new high point in my career today, but I guess sometimes that’s just how things work.