I chuckled reading about Thomas’ confessional app and “The Virtual Vatican.” Nice job.
My first thought was gratitude for his chuckle and kind compliment.
My second thought was – “This guy appreciates humorous writing.”
My third thought (after visiting his blog) was – “I want to interview him about his inspiration as a writer, some of his preparation, and what he’s doing at Today’s Authors. The following was our exchange –
Who (author/teacher) or what (book/other writing) first inspired you to become a writer?
Without a doubt, the book that inspired me to become a writer is a small, soft-cover publication titled The Creative Writing Guide by Candice Schaefer and Rick Diamond. I came across this book in my final semester of college, 1999.
I needed a three-credit elective course and, at the time, was still exploring whether writing as a hobby was something that interested me. I enrolled in the course titled Creative Writing: Poetry, and The Creative Writing Guide was the supporting text for the course.
I was hooked on the book just after reading chapter 1: “Writing as a Journey”. To me, the narrator’s voice was a familiar and encouraging one. It really helped open my eyes to using the five senses to strengthen my writing.
What did you do (studies/work experience) to prepare you to do business/technical writing?
Interesting question. To be honest, nothing explicitly on my part. However, I suppose my chosen career path and studies within the field of Management Information Systems was integral simply by affording me multiple opportunities to practice business and technical writing.
In junior college I enrolled in both a speechwriting and business writing course. These courses helped me practice writing to persuade, inform, debate, etc. Later while attending university, core technical courses required me to write sample business cases, product documentation guides, etc.
In my early to late-twenties I worked as a software developer, and that included many opportunities to write end-user documentation for software products within the reinsurance and industrial and environmental hygiene industries. Now in my mid-thirties, my business writing is instead focused on writing business cases and writing to persuade.
Looking back, as a student it appears I was subconsciously taught that volume was more important than substance: write x pages of this, write y pages of that. But today when writing in the professional world, it’s really more important to minimize volume while maximizing clarity. This is especially true when writing emails to people who may receive upwards of 100+ email messages daily and you want to maximize the chance of your message actually being read. (more on that topic here: http://wa.emergent-publishing.com/2012/11/feedback-separating-the-message-from-the-delivery/)
3) You describe yourself as an “entrepreneur”. Do you mean you spend a lot of time marketing your work or coming up with solid plans to turn your passion for writing into a (financial) living?
When describing myself as an entrepreneur, I’m referring to my interest in creating, organizing, and running businesses and organizations.
For ten years I assisted my wife with managing her small business—a dance studio—before selling that business four years ago. In the past I also created and managed a small software development business, and I co-founded a non-profit community theatre organization. And, my career path in management has me working toward leading teams, departments, and eventually larger companies.
4) You’re one of the founding editor/contributors for the developing blog Today’s Authors. What will be your role in this enterprise and what can we expect to see there in the coming year?
My role, like all the editors and contributors you’ll find at the site, is simply to encourage writers to push forward through their own personal journeys of creating writing. We’re akin to spectators on the sidelines of a marathon race course—only we’re here to cheer on participants as they slog through the course of completing their stories or novels.
Today we plan to “cheerlead” primarily by ensuring a comfortable, safe environment for writers. Though the coming year visitors will find articles and prompts focused on the “nuts-and-bolts” of writing, I’m most looking forward to community dialogue via comments where writers feel comfortable to request feedback, and to give constructive, positive feedback in return. How the site evolves beyond that will be largely driven by the site’s community of visitors.
Thank you, Matt, for participating in the interview, for your writing, and for encouraging other writers in what you do.
(photo of Matt from his blog, used by permission)