Welcome to the Kingdom of Ink column! Our writers take turns writing about their expertise here on our journal. Want to hire one of our ghostwriters? Submit an application to work with us or shop our services.
I’ve always been fascinated by the power of the written word, a facet of everyday life so ubiquitous yet often overlooked. As a kid, I devoured campy horror novels, choose-your-own-adventure books, and stories built around worlds made tangible by the characters who lived, breathed, and collided within them. I’m probably not alone when I say a few sentences from those paperback days still triumph in my memory over things that actually happened.
When I was five, I began my career as a child actor (I ended up well-adjusted and my mom’s not crazy, don’t panic), and continued to work professionally through college. The older I got, the more I realized that acting was like playing make-believe along a set of rails. As I opened my eyes and examined the different positions on set, I came to understand that there was a role that built the train tracks and gave meaning to the landscapes of experience and emotion so often traversed but rarely immortalized. The screenwriters, depending on how well their piece was being interpreted, always had this effervescent pride that silently said, “Damn, it’s cool to see all of this come together.” On sitcoms especially, they would travel in packs and jot down joke punch-ups while they’d watch rehearsals, constantly trying to crack one another up on the road to honing a perfect episode. If the script was good, the performers and crew would be glowing because they knew they were part of something special.
I won’t sugarcoat it, acting as a kid alienated me from my peers. My absence for weeks at a time and after-school hours spent learning lines and traveling to auditions kept me from participating in plays, team sports, and other extracurriculars. This drive to pursue writing professionally has always been in the interest of chasing that unbreakable team feeling I’d been witness to so many times, but never fully able to grasp.
After college, I went back to work for a production company whose show I’d acted on years prior. I cut my teeth as a writers’ production assistant, panicking over coffee and lunch orders, pitching jokes where I could, and sponging up everything that was thrown at me, sometimes literally. When one show ended, I pivoted to another, and another, and another, until I found myself on a path that promised nothing more than to wring me dry until I was just as jaded as some of the men and women who occupied those rooms.
I wasn’t writing for fun, I was writing to catch eyes and to earn a seat at the table of whatever show I was on at the time. When I wasn’t bleeding myself dry with 60-hour weeks, I was learning where the best restaurants, daycares, and dog hospitals in LA were located. Suffice to say, this was not the land of imagination and camaraderie I’d envisioned.
It wasn’t until I was about a decade into my career, which had meandered to post-production, that I was lucky enough to come across Kingdom of Ink’s listing to hire a freelance writer. Anyone who’s wanted to write professionally has been pushed an article or two about someone who quit their job and started earning six figures from home as a copywriter or editor. Truthfully, I always felt like those opportunities were a pipedream at best.
What I found with freelance writing was pride in my work and freedom unlike any other. Not only do I have the liberty to pick and choose opportunities as they arise, but I was able to step away from those other vampiric “ladder-climbing” jobs that offered me nothing more than impossible expectations, timelines that would keep me in the same position well into my forties, and carrots on sticks as far as the eye could see. I had to take a leap and quit my seven-year-long career in post-production, and when I did, the showrunner I’d been working with reached out to offer congratulations and acknowledge me as a peer. That had never happened before and I took it as a sign that I was on the right path.
Now I spend my working hours honing my craft, one sentence at a time. Beyond my love for writing and helping re-order memoirs to maximize emotional punch, I am extremely grateful for the unfathomably diverse walks of life my position allows me to experience vicariously. As an empath, reliving triumph and tragedy with my clients can be a rollercoaster, but hearing the excitement in a person’s voice as the page transports them back to a moment frozen in time is a feeling like no other.
Take it from me: genuine writer co-ops are just about impossible to come by. Most underpay their writers and burn them out while reaping the benefits of considerable markup. Grindhouse copywriting agencies are a dime a dozen and their products reflect the soullessness they instill in their uninspired writers. When you hire a freelance writer with Kingdom of Ink, you’re getting someone like me who cares about their craft and genuinely loves using the artform to relay information concisely. I’ve found just as much joy in helping startups communicate their company’s intent via explainer videos and pitch decks as I do in stringing accomplishments together into the perfect LinkedIn biography. To me, these assignments are like writing a pitch deck for a TV show or a character breakdown for an outline, and my exposure with each new individual broadens my horizons in ways that would have never been available to me had I stayed in post-production or, frankly, on the assistant-to-writer path.
It’s easy to lose sight of your dreams when you dump countless sleepless nights into a TV pilot no one but mom reads or spend months on a novel that can’t find footing with a publisher. Aside from a blessed few overconfident idiots among us, everyone gets the “you should give up,” voice in their head now and again. It’s a given for any craft that requires vulnerability. When I turn in a project and a client is satisfied, I get all the confidence I need to tell that voice to shut its yap so I can get back to doing what I love—playing make-believe and keeping that childhood dream of mine alive for as long as I am.
Jack Salvatore holds a degree in Writing for Screen and Television from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He’s pitched in writers’ rooms helmed by Emmy-winning showrunners, has script-doctored for popular television shows and major motion pictures, contracts with production companies to mold concepts into marketable properties, tells people about his dreams before realizing what they say about his subconscious, and still finds time to moderate two writers’ groups in his free time. He lives in Burbank, California with his wife, Christine.