I’ve now been writing, whether professionally or for some sort of compensation, for over half my life. From short stories in 7th grade to a book about cider and community college journalism to ghost-written business pieces, my (adult) life has always had one constant: I write about stuff.
As part of that, my name has been attached to every single one of those pieces (save for a scant few biz articles that wouldn’t have been my personal choice). My name as a byline, coming from a journalism background, has always been my promise and assurance that everything I’ve created has been done so from an honest perspective. I’m not saying I’ve never been wrong, nor that I have never made a correction, but rather that to the best of my ability and knowledge, what I’ve written is as true.
This approach, especially with my strong opinions on random topics online, has hurt me in the past. Employers have fired me, potential employers have passed on hiring me, colleagues have made assumptions, and my teachers/parents/smart friends have repeatedly asked: “are you sure you want your name attached to that?”
Understand their concern, I do. On the web, everything lives forever. That recorded, drunken rant I published to Twitter almost five years ago, denouncing two specific Phoenicians? Still available, with my name on it. My views on women wearing dresses? Hoo boy, you can still find that. But because I’m not a complete idiot, I’ve stayed away from topics like abortion and politics, as well as anything related to my close family and friends. Not everything is meant to be shared by me (both my siblings warned me about announcing their pregnancies on Facebook, in both instances, I cheerfully obliged), but if I DO deem it worth sharing, I’m going to put my name on it.
When publishing HipCider, a book that required more than my fair share of drinking, I was hesitant. My own, past legal issues with alcohol over-consumption worried me that I’d be hurting myself by publicly admitting that I still drink even after a DUI near-conviction and court-ordered outpatient rehab, but I figured that because I wasn’t drinking and driving, nor was I promoting chugging vast amounts of fermented apple juice, I’d protected myself from any sort of backlash.
The book, while nowhere near popular or good enough to come up in 99.99999% of conversations with people I didn’t already know, has helped far more than hurt. I’m a trusted source about cider now and I enjoy helping introduce people to America’s new pastime (one day!).
But as culture evolves, so have my tastes. I’m interested in trying new things. I’m curious how things taste. I want to have different experiences. I enjoy talking intelligently about products most people think is bad for you.
In doing so, I’ve opened myself up not only to being passed over for potential jobs, but possible federal prosecution. While the latter doesn’t worry me whatsoever, the former will always be a concern. Thankfully, I have skills that translate super-well into odd, temporary gigs, so I’m sure I’ll be fine.
If you know me, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you don’t, well, let me know if you have any questions. Remember, I did this for us: Wake and Bake: Green Chiefs