Writing

Writing

This is a brief history of writing throughout my life and how it has featured in my career so far.

Ok, it’s not so brief!

Writing is a true passion of mine, and I feel honoured to be able to wake up every day and write for a living.

I’ll start at the beginning (back in the prehistoric days) and move through to where I currently find myself.


School

The writing bug caught me forever after 2 short poems I wrote during my grade 9 year were published in the Pinetown Boys’ High School year-end magazine.

The Transformation (1983)

The wind darted through the trees
Leaving but a memory
Of the previous day's heat

Strongly and joyfully
The wind swept the dust along before it
Clearing a pathway for the finale

Like a skilful hurdler
Swiftly bounding over the obstacles
That lined his way to the finish

The race continued
But the wind had lagged behind
The leaves gasped for breath
Heat!

- One of the poems published in the PBHS magazine. The other can be viewed here.

Looking back, the bug had already started gnawing during the previous year. Belinda Arnold was my English teacher during my formative high school years and her passion and methods played a huge part in moulding the love I hold for writing and the English language. She prioritised creative writing and reading, which are among my strengths. I admit to having had a schoolboy crush on her too, which probably aided in my progression!


Journalism Studies

I achieved 2 language distinctions and an exemption in Matric. These results encouraged my enrolment into the NDip Journalism course at Natal Technikon. My 2nd option, to study for a Journalism Degree in Grahamstown, was deemed problematic by my parents.

The NDip was political. I wanted to focus on broadcasting, sport and music journalism but, instead, ended up covering “illegal” political gatherings! I have never been “political” and prefer to “live and let live” in a relaxed environment. The police sjambokking I received while covering an ANC rally in Durban did not qualify as part of my ideal profession!

When I revisited the poetry and lyrics I wrote during 1987, I realised that the “normal” teenage angst existed therein, but also noted political viewpoints that I don’t remember ever experiencing!

I persevered with my diploma. Ultimately, what I learned has stood me in good stead throughout my career.

I was conscripted immediately following my studies. My choice (ironically) was to serve in the South African Police, but I left after 18 months and completed my national service in the SA Defence Force. During this period, my writing waned, with more emphasis placed on sport and music.


Finance

After military service, I forged a career in finance, another of my strengths. For over 2 decades, I replaced writing lyrics and poetry with financial reports and budgets. I ended up being the “go-to guy” for my employers when they needed letters written or spelling and grammar checked.

I didn’t exactly enjoy my financial work. It was a means to an end; a way of putting food on the table. In 2005, retrenchment as a Retail & Financial Manager due to my employer’s emigration, prompted a conscious decision to change direction in an attempt to find true job satisfaction.


Journalism & Content Marketing

At 37 I started afresh. I accepted employment in Johannesburg as a Journalist and Creative Content Manager for a newly-created website promoting South African music. Although I had dabbled a little online, this was the first time that I was truly required to be digitally-proficient. I loved it!

I covered local gigs, interviewed well-known musicians and researched artist, band and venue histories. The creative layout and content of the website was entirely my responsibility and I thrived in it. I secured advertising from music venues and ran a successful gig guide. In the early days of social media, I built a presence and brand identity on Facebook. Things were on the up-and-up, both personally and professionally.

Sadly all good things come to an end. Due to professional differences in opinion with the owners regarding the future direction of the website, I left my dream job. I temporarily took up a Financial Management position in Bloemfontein but it would not be long before I was back in the marketing industry.


Marketing & Freelancing

After 3 years as a Product Sales & Marketing Manager for an Art company in Cape Town (what a city!) I spent the next 3 years as a Regional Literary Representative back in Durban. I marketed fiction, non-fiction, business, travel, and children’s book titles to major national chain stores. This contract position was thoroughly refreshing and I began to read in earnest again!

The position afforded me the time to begin my own side-line enterprise and, through contacts I was making, I secured freelance work as a content writer and copywriter for a few companies. My specs included white papers, business card and flyer design and creation, along with tender, proposal and business letter layout and content.

I also carried out freelance copywriting for post-graduate student theses and short-form biographical writing for recognisable individuals as well.

Audio and e-book sales started to grow substantially in the mid-2010s. The book company I represented was firmly entrenched in the traditional market and sales began to decrease. With my commissions suffering and my side-line enterprise growing, I decided not to renew my contract with them and immediately founded In Demand Enterprises.


In Demand Enterprises

With my existing client base I pushed for longer freelance contracts. I upgraded my business tools and began accepting remote work as well. Ultimately this would lead me back to the bright lights of Johannesburg.

Following the death of my father from dementia-related heart failure in 2018, I was free to relocate again. By this point, my major clients were based in Gauteng and it made sense to move closer to them as doing their offline work remotely was creating its share of problems. I decided to settle in Roodepoort in order to cater to my primary clients more personally, while continuing to service my KZN-based clientele remotely.

The plan worked well, and I had even taken on the design and content creation for a few websites. Then a new challenge surfaced.

Covid-19 caused the closure of my largest client and prompted various others to downgrade my services or stop using me altogether. Drastic measures were needed and I was forced to seek formal employment again. It was then that Nick Duncan and ContentBot entered my professional life.


ContentBot

During 2021 I accepted a full-time, fully remote, fixed-term contract with Nick’s company, CodeCabin (Pty) Ltd. My job spec was to carry out the start-up content marketing, and content and copywriting for CodeCabin’s newest venture, ContentBot.

Over the following 6 months I researched, wrote, edited and published 72 long-form articles for the ContentBot blog. I targeted an audience that included copywriters, digital marketers and founders, as ContentBot is an AI Content Generation app.

I also wrote close to 30 product feature descriptions and carried out copywriting on CodeCabin’s legal documentation, while performing admin duties on the ContentBot Facebook page and creating a presence for the blog on LinkedIn.

Unfortunately my contract finally ran it’s course. I decided to rebrand In Demand Enterprises and created a new website as CopyFounder.


CopyFounder

I designed the CopyFounder website’s framework and added the content myself. I have since added numerous articles and market my blog and services on social media.

I have recently created something of a name for myself in the field of health writing, specifically regarding cancer and radiation oncology. I have been published in Spotlight, News24 and the Daily Maverick.

My aim is to continue to promote my writing, content writing, copywriting, editing and proofreading abilities, knowledge and experience through digital publications, my CopyFountain blog and this writing portfolio.