927. How a CFO Became a Ghostwriter
“Once my parents were both gone, as I’m an only child, I had no other family than my husband and our dog. He posed to me at the time, ‘Honey, what do you want to do now?’ I’d never been asked that question before in such a balanced way. I’d been asked it in terms of what-do-you-want-to-do-now? I-hope-you-give-me-the-right-answer, but his question was just pure innocence and love: What do you want to do now? And I said I wanted to get out of California. And we did so. We literally took a dart and threw it at a map. And we ended up in Vermont.”
S.M. Kelly is a New York-based writer from Tokyo via Los Angeles with 20 years’ experience. She has written five ghostwritten books and more than 3,500 articles for numerous industries, including entertainment, finance, beauty, education, advertising, lifestyle, parenting, food and cooking, and travel/hospitality. Her freelance clients include Google, L’Oréal Paris, Paramount Studios, Marvel Comics, Warner Bros., TheWeek.com, Prevention.com, LendingUSA.com, and Mamapedia.com. Kelly lives with her husband, Mike, and their rescue bulldog, Sherman. “Here’s Your Pill, Kitten!“ is her first non-ghostwritten book.
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“I’m used to writing books as a ghostwriter for clients. But due to a pretty catastrophic accident where I broke my femur, I had to make the proverbial pitcher of lemonade out of lemons. I was in the hospital for about two weeks following a complex procedure to fix my leg. As a result, I had to spend 90 days in two nursing homes, where I relearned how to walk and become mobile again. I thought to myself at the time, ‘While I am in the nursing home, if I write three pages a day about my experience, then by the end of it, by the time I go home, I will have a book.’ It’s been a two-year process, struggle or journey, whatever you want to call it. And it has catapulted me from one career, if you will, to yet another. I’ve made a career transition four times now.”
The Most Powerful Lessons and Experiences?
1.“Moving to Vermont to be a writer was literally the first time in my life when I threw caution to the wind and Mike threw caution to the wind, and we just said, ‘You know what? Let’s pack up our suitcases, take the dog and just go’. And we did.”
2.”I’ve realized that many clients don’t take me quite as seriously when they realize I live in Vermont. The assumption is that I’m some wealthy B&B owner who writes just on a whim for my own enjoyment. We had planned to move to New York earlier in 2020, but then COVID hit. But that is still the plan.”
3.“The first couple of writing jobs I had were content writing for content mills and writing listicles. If you see a topic in a Google search like, ‘10 ways to find travel hacks’ that takes you to an article that’s maybe a thousand words long, opening with a description of your dilemma, followed by a list of 10 ways to get around that dilemma, and ending with a summary paragraph, that’s what I did for several months.”
4.”One thing I have found being a freelancer is that unless you say you’re looking for work, everyone you know just assumes that you’re happy with what you are doing and have enough work. I learned a lot from Facebook groups and Google searches and networking. I started letting my colleagues–even the ones back in Los Angeles–know that, if they know of any gigs, I really would appreciate a referral. Send me in the right direction and I’ll take it from there. You’ve got to spell it out for people, who have their own lives and their own schedules and kids and work. Unless you say, ‘Yeah, I’m fine, but I’m looking for work,’ people generally are not going to be on the lookout for you.”
5.”I foresee myself doing more writing for myself, but in terms of always having a PSA (public service announcement) for my readers. For example, with my current book, Here’s Your Pill, Kitten!, it is my story, but ultimately not a lot of people care about the fact I spent 90 days in a nursing home. I’m there to promote reader education. In this case, it is for patient advocacy, learning about the state of nursing homes and healthcare in the United States, the opioid crisis, and all the facts and factions and factors that I had to live through. It’s a push toward the greater good. My life isn’t perfect, but you know, if I can pass forward some of my experience and that helps somebody else, even one person, then I’m good…I’m good.”
On Her Bookshelf
Connecting With Shelley Moench-Kelly
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