On a late night several months after being hired by Rumpus Writing and Editing, I stared at my tablet’s blank screen feeling completely and utterly stuck. Few things can make you more humble and hopeless than those times when the words simply won’t come.

After a prolonged period of time, I grabbed a notebook, tore off a blank sheet, and wrote one sentence—right in the middle in inky black letters. A self pep-talk that simply said:

You are a writer. You are living your childhood dream.

I wish I could say the writing life is as romantic as I’d imagined—long, contemplative gazes over a pastoral landscape, flashes of genius that run like lightning from my brain, to my hands, to the page, but that would be fiction—and I wasn’t hired for that. As it turns out, while writing isn’t always an idyllic and inspired experience, the 7-year-old me would still be pretty darn impressed—and proud.

Storytelling starts early

My writing-origin story began in first grade when we were given a creative writing assignment about the Declaration of Independence. As an avid Disney fan, I found my story in the non-human characters—the plagues of blue-bottle flies swarming Philadelphia. My innocent mind fashioned these disease-carrying pests into heroic emblems of freedom who saved the day for the Founding Fathers. This fully illustrated story was selected and sent off for printing. Holding my finished book in my hands was magic.

Dogs are love

Dogs have always been my primary obsession. My parents got our first dog when I was 5, after my mom became worried about me repeatedly “walking” my Pound Puppy up and down our driveway with a belt in lieu of a leash. Katie the parti-color cocker spaniel forged my ongoing love for this merry and endearing breed. During middle school, I discovered conformation dog shows and fell in love with the purebred dog world. I acquired Taylor, a show-bred black cocker spaniel puppy, and handled him to several championships, rally, and agility titles as a junior handler. Since then, I’ve become a Certified Training Partner (CTP) through the Karen Pryor Academy, and been blessed to train and handle two more cocker spaniels, Tallulah and Tutti Frutti, to dozens of performance titles. I am now beginning the journey with my newest puppy, Luigi.

Majoring in storytelling

I was an undecided major during my first college semesters when a fine arts requirement—introductory acting—reawakened my love for stories. I enjoyed playwriting and directing under the mentorship of several inspired professors and professionals during my studies in St. Louis, New York, and Minneapolis. While several of my plays received recognition both locally and nationally, after graduation, the long days in a dark rehearsal hall left me bored and antsy. Graduate school was no longer on my horizon. I began searching for my next role.

Majoring in dogs

Returning home reunited me with my dogs and helped me discover veterinary technology. Becoming a vet tech felt like a respectably practical role after my artsy college experience, and merged my natural curiosity and love for animals without requiring another extensive and expensive education. 

As a registered veterinary technician (RVT), I’ve enjoyed working at single and multi-doctor practices, a non-profit, and a large specialty referral hospital. Providing compassionate and knowledgeable care to the pet and their owner is naturally fulfilling, in a way that theater never was. This preference for one-on-one care, and my love for structure and sports, led me to veterinary rehabilitation, and I completed my Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner (CCRP) studies at the University of Tennessee in 2017. 

Trading my stethoscope for a pen

In late 2020, I made a difficult financial decision to step away from my job as a surgical technician. I explored the options of writing combined with veterinary knowledge, and accidentally stumbled across a job listing for Rumpus. In June 2021, I was hired for a full-time writing position—my professional life had come full circle.

The day I held my Rumpus business card in my hand and saw the word writer beneath my name, I felt like my 7-year-old self again, clutching my first book.

It felt like I’d arrived after a long journey. It felt like accomplishment. It felt like home.

A typical writing day

I’m not sure I have a typical day yet, but I can’t sit still for long—perhaps that’s my inner vet tech. I usually begin writing around 6 a.m. By 9, the dogs and I are restless for adventure, so we take a long walk near our home, or head to a local park for a quick romp. Midafternoon is spent at my desk, and then late afternoon to early evening is reserved for dog training and friends or family. The bulk of my writing occurs late at night—an ingrained and inconvenient habit that I would love to break! 

The piece of paper with my midnight mantra now sits near my desk, gently nudging me when self-doubt threatens to erode my motivation and confidence. I look at it less often these days, but if I need to remind myself how far I’ve come—and the awesome journey ahead—I know it’s there.