I am excited to launch ‘Flight Deck,’ a behind-the-scenes look at the work I do as a professional copywriter and storyteller.
Whenever I’m asked questions like, “What does it mean to be a writer?” and “So… what is it that you do, exactly?” my response is based entirely on whatever I happen to be working on that day. If you had posed the question two weeks ago, I would have told you that being a writer means preparing letters of authenticity for didgeridoos in North Australia… and I’d be telling the truth.
Before we delve into the details, though, I thought I’d share the story of how Paper Plane Communications – my bread and butter, my baby – came to be.
Act One: The Break-Up
In 2013, I was a far cry from the woman I am today. I felt trapped in an emotionally toxic relationship and had all but disappeared from most of my social circles. What little writing I did was limited to the odd blog post (a piece of my personal history found here) and a few meagre lines of text in the One Line a Day journals I’d purchased for my ex and I three years before.
At this point, I had stopped believing in my abilities as a writer.
Three weeks after our break-up, I boarded a flight with my brother and sister to spend a month backpacking through India. The flight had been booked long before the separation unfolded, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a welcome distraction.
Suddenly, I was moved to start writing again. Over the course of those few weeks, I filled a journal with words I have never and likely will never read again. The point was not what I wrote… it was that I wrote at all.
Act Two: The Australian
In the months following my return, I got to work untangling five years of an “us” into a “you” and a “me.” I became something of a separation expert, spending my time with lawyers, mortgage brokers, and crying on the shoulders of friends who welcomed me back with open arms.
That summer, I RSVP’d to eleven weddings. Yep, eleven Saturdays were spent celebrating love–something I wasn’t even sure existed anymore.
Fast-forward to wedding number six… or seven… or maybe eight. Friends of mine–one from Australia, the other from Canada–tied the knot and an impressive number of Aussies made the trip to Quill Lake, Saskatchewan (population: 400).
I didn’t see The Australian coming. As taken as I was by his sense of humour and our in-depth conversations, I naively assumed that after a few harmless dates, he’d be on his way home and we’d go on as if nothing ever happened.
Act Three: The Celebrity
I am the first to admit that I’m a Type A personality; until The Australian, spontaneity had never been the name of my game.
On a whim, I took everyone–including myself–by total surprise that November when I applied for a five-week unpaid leave from my job to fly to the other side of the planet and see The Australian. Insert cliché à la “love makes you do crazy things” here.
Since India, I continued to write consistently, reigniting my passion for the art and respect for the trade. Over the summer and autumn, I started picking up small editing gigs through my alma mater’s University Learning Centre, dipping my toes into the pool but fully aware I yearned to dive in headfirst.
The Australian had been supportive and encouraging from the get-go, so together we explored what hurdles I’d have to jump to officially become a business owner. Once that was sorted, all that was left was a name.
How did “Paper Plane Communications” come to be, then? Well, as much as I’d like to say it was inspired by growing up with a pilot father and by my penchant for travel… full credit goes to Justin Timberlake. N*SYNC’s frontman was wearing a metal paper plane on his lapel at the American Music Awards. The rest, as they say, is history.
Act Four: The Hustle
Thanks to The Australian’s natural talents in graphic design and a wave of support that rippled out wider than I’d ever expected, I returned to Canada anxious to find out what life as an “Owner/Operator” had in store. For me, it wasn’t about the money–I had a comfortable, salaried job to take care of my mortgage and other expenses–I simply wanted to prove to myself that it could be done. That my skills were real, and they were marketable.
My website went live in January 2014 with the help of my friend and web guru, Toran (who, coincidentally, helped get this site off the ground, too).
And then I freaked out.
I was neither a marketer nor a salesperson, so how did I expect to drum up business?
The beautiful thing about Saskatchewan–and many other parts of the world, I’ve since learned–is that your work speaks for itself… and if it doesn’t, someone will speak about it for you. Before I knew it, I was sub-contracting through web design firms, advertising agencies, and penning the cover story for the province’s women’s magazine, PINK.
Don’t be fooled into thinking I haven’t worked my little butt off, though. To get to where I am, I had to conquer my biggest fear: networking. I worked (and networked) evenings, weekends, and lunch breaks. Instead of taking vacations, I took “workcations.” I ate, slept, and breathed words.
Act Five: The Move
As I’ve grown, so, too, has my business. Where I go, my laptop follows. I’ve worked from coffee shops in Portland, Oregon; from the Narita International Airport in Tokyo, Japan; and now, from Australia… where it all began.
I no longer have the comfort of a steady paycheque every two weeks, which both scares the bajeezus out of me and invigorates me to keep the hustle alive. Or the paper plane in flight, as it were. (If you haven’t picked up on it already, I am a lover of wordplay. The punnier, the better.)
There you have it, folks.
So what does it mean to be a writer? For me, it doesn’t really mean anything… it means everything. Has it been a bumpy road to arrive at today? Hell yeah! But like the quote on my About page says: “And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.”
Onwards and upwards,
P.S. This post’s feature image also happens to be the unofficial debut of Paper Plane Communications 2.0! Big ups to Courtney Rose Larson Design for her gorgeous work in defining the next phase of my freelance journey.