At the intersection of non-fiction and creative writing, you’ll find my happy place. A field of endless opportunities to spread good, educational, and, sometimes, fun veterinary-related information. In this unique niche we call veterinary writing, we are the bearers of important words, separating fact from fiction. And, since we write about pets—something most people associate with joy and lightheartedness—we often have the opportunity to incorporate cheerful tones or anecdotes into our work. Veterinary writing, to me, combines the best of both worlds—the salty and the sweet, if you will.
My mother always told me, as an adolescent, that I was a wonderful writer. I would nod my head and say, “Sure,” accompanied, of course, by the inevitable teenage eye-roll. But, as I progressed through AP Language and college writing courses, I actually started to believe her. I liked writing, and entertained the thought that I might be kind of good at it, but never imagined making a living out of it. After all, my ultimate goal in life was veterinary school. Where would writing fit into that?
While taking my vet school prerequisites in college, I worked as a part-time assistant at a local animal hospital. They had recently created a local pet care newsletter called “Pet Tales,” which highlighted articles by area veterinarians and technicians. I knew I had no place writing for such a magazine, but I inquired about the possibility, and was shocked when they accepted my proposal to write a “how-to” column every month. It was unpaid, but I had my first writing gig—about veterinary content, nonetheless. I was on top of the world.
Over the next handful of years, I mosied my way through finishing my undergraduate degree, getting rejected from veterinary school, and beginning a master’s program for science teaching. I began to lose hope that a veterinary medicine career would ever become my reality—let alone one that would combine both vet med and writing. However, my opportunity to attend veterinary school eventually came, and I enjoyed three years on the island of Grenada, packing my brain full of complicated physiologic processes and sophisticated medical terms. My clinical year at Oregon State University was a blur, and graduation was on the horizon faster than I could perform a feline neuter—which was impressively quick for a veterinary student. Soon enough, I was working full-time as an actual, albeit unconfident, veterinarian. But as the months dragged on, I wondered if I was cut out for the long, grueling hours and sleepless nights, constantly wondering if I had diagnosed or treated my patients incorrectly.
Everyone always said, “It will get better after three to five years.” The writing idea had taken a back burner for several years while I learned to be a veterinarian, but as I explored other avenues for using my degree, writing started to reappear in my brain. I began networking with other non-clinical veterinarians, and scoured Facebook and the web for any inkling of an opportunity in the unique field of veterinary writing. I came across an ad for Rumpus Writing and Editing and immediately applied, feeling nervous and unqualified. I got the gig and have never looked back to full-time clinical veterinary medicine. I knew there was a reason I held on to all of those writing books from 15 years ago.
Since Rumpus took me on almost two years ago, I’ve worked on countless veterinary writing and editing projects. From the top 10 ways to practice pet heat safety, to handouts on tracheal collapse, to blogs about compounded veterinary drugs, I’ve written about more veterinary-related topics than I ever thought possible. I love that I can write a light-hearted story for a pet owner about adoption one day, and address my veterinary colleagues the next day with research-based topics like using in-house diagnostics to boost feline wellness compliance. The range of possibilities in this uber-unique niche are seemingly endless—something I definitely didn’t expect when I dove in.
In the information era, where you can find the answer to a question—albeit, not necessarily the right one—at your literal fingertips, I feel that my work as a veterinary professional and writer is important. While I can’t control everything that shows up on the internet—why aren’t there internet police?—I do my part to ensure that solid, reliable veterinary material is available and accessible. When it’s applicable, I’ll make it fun, too. I never imagined this work would be so rewarding, and I certainly never believed someone would actually pay me to do it.
From writing to veterinary medicine, to mothering, and everything in between, I still have imposter syndrome in almost everything I do. Doubting myself is actually the one area in life where I’m willing to admit I’m actually an expert! But, in finding this tiny, specific, yet significant crossroads of the veterinary medicine and writing worlds, I think I found a sweet little place I like to call home. And, I won’t be moving anytime soon.