“You’ll never make a living writing.” – A Cultural Lie

Throughout high school, Sam Morris gravitated toward writing. Despite this, he went the opposite way after graduating. “I fell for the ‘you’ll never make a living “writing trap” and went to study engineering at the University of Southern Indiana.Stressed with the math portions of his studies, Sam dropped the program and decided to put his experience with words to use by joining the Air Force as a linguist.

This was no easy feat, as the Air Force has a 40% pass rate for those applying to be a linguist. During his 74 weeks of training, Sam’s first child was born and he could only speak to his wife on the phone. However, with patience and an impressive work ethic—a flexible work schedule would be in his future.

After finishing his Air Force contract, and with the encouragement from his spouse, Sam went on to receive his Bachelor’s in English.

His ambition didn’t stop there though, while pursuing a master’s in English, he dropped out of college again… Sounds bad, right? Nope! His credibility as a problem solver and proficient writer earned him a job referral to work for Gluu Inc.. a software company Austin, Texas. The position was for a technical writer focusing in product documentation, which accepted over finishing his master’s at the time. However, he never gave up on learning and returned and is currently working towards his MBA.

Technical writing is a field with many facets. Engineers or software developers will create a product and have a trail of technical documents on how and why this product works. These documents are riddled with highly formalized or abbreviated industry specific jargon that the average user would not understand or have the time to read. Technical Writers will translate the technical information (hence their name) about a product and abbreviate it into relevant information that a consumer can understand and use. A couple of examples would be the description of a product on a seller website, or the user manual of a product, either physical or software related.

Up until this point, Sam has lived in California, Texas and Georgia. However, in the summer of 2019 he and his wife chose to settle back in their hometown of Evansville Indiana for the low cost of living and to be near family. After living in many states, he realized that big cities seemed to only matter if you’re single because you can go out to ‘cooler places’ for lunch. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter so much where you live; it’s whom you live with.

Although he has found this to be true, he has still found excitement and unique benefits to living in Evansville. “When I left Evansville, it was like a dying industrial town, and I came back and it’s cool all of a sudden.” He witnessed downtown being revitalized and events happening in and around Haynie’s Corner for the first time in decades. Evansville is growing, it’s exciting. Plus, (stated in a tone of jest) “I love the culture of Evansville… let’s be honest, I’m talking about the pizza.” The Uno style pizzas you find here are great. Sam cited Evansville as the only place to get a Stromboli, while everywhere else (he had lived) offered a Calzone. “And you can’t forget about the Fall Fest,” he added.

Morris was also impressed by Evansville’s current focus on entrepreneurship, small business, freelancers, and remote workers like himself. Originally, Sam thought his only option for working remotely was out of his home. After a quick Google search, he was surprised to find Cowork Evansville. “The price is spectacular, 24-hour access to come in whenever I want…I can come in on the weekend if I have extra work and nobody is there, it’s super quiet.”

Sam isn’t unfamiliar with coworking spaces. He previously worked from a well-known coworking space with global operations and referred to the workspace as “more like a frat house.” They had beer on tap, foosball tables and all sorts of stuff making it super loud. Additionally, if you didn’t rent a designated desk, they’d kick you out once a month, allowing for space to host a private conference for an outside company. As for the culture, if you talked to someone, they were more likely to ‘flex’ about what whiskey tasting or concert they were going to next rather than any work-related conversation.

Sam found the culture at Cowork Evansville offered a “sense of community.” When asked about the members in the space, Sam commented on the “wide variety of people with different skills” at Cowork Evansville who are willing to give you a hand if needed. For example, when he had a question about APIs, a coworker was able to give him some advice. “With the networking here, knowing that I know a guy is very helpful” he added. At Cowork Evansville “You are around people who have the same mindset. Everybody’s here to further their business in one way or another. And everyone is super supportive.” He further explained the level of comfort and support given in the space by adding, “If I have something big happen at work, I could go through and get high fives from everyone if I wanted to. It’s definitely a very positive place.”

“Being here with professional people, who respect each other’s space and volume [levels] is night and day different from where I was. I’m absolutely glad I made the decision to join.”

When asked what general career advice he might give, he ended with “The biggest thing that I learned was to learn your worth, and don’t accept less than that. You are marketable, you just have to figure out how.”


Cowork Evansville launched in October of 2018 in Downtown Evansville. The space is managed by the Growth Alliance for Greater Evansville.


FROM THE AUTHOR

If Marvel can have an end credit scene, why can’t bloggers?

Perhaps as relevant to coworking as the shawarma scene in Avengers, I’d nonetheless like to highlight fun details about this cowork spotlight session.

  • If you work alongside Sam at Cowork Evansville, you’ll likely spot him sporting an epic Hyrule Insignia on his jacket.
  • I was impressed to hear Sam learned Arabic as a Linguist. Which, from my understanding, is more difficult to learn than languages we are generally more familiar with from classes in high school or college (German, French, Spanish). I didn’t ask him if he could speak Elvish, but that would be dope if so.
  • He’s a Kombucha tea drinker, which I think is a tea-riffic alternative to soda.
  • I find it intriguing that the first time he dropped out of college it probably sounded bad, and yet it was ultimately what would lead him to a job he originally wanted; writing. Yet his time spent in college wasn’t worthless, therefore the cliché “college dropout success story” doesn’t apply. He even used a paper from college to apply for his current job.

by Aaron Gray (GAGE Intern) on January 10, 2020