About Andrea M. Darcy
writer and content expert in London/ Paris
My entire working life has been about words and ideas. And I am obsessed with the power of content to change the world. Not least as we are an incredible moment in history where we are, aware of it or not, in the middle of an information war.
Thanks to social media and the internet, I feel that I am now in a battle, and part of a movement to fight back with positive content that heals over harms. (If you don't believe that content has the power to, say, cause the death of thousands, please go and watch the mind-blowing documentary "The Social Dilemma').
I was already an award-winning fiction writer by age 14. A published journalist by 23, an associate editor by 26, an award-winning script writer by 27, a film school gradate with her first feature film optioned as well as funded to write a first novel by age 28. So I have long made a living with words.
And alongside all this I was also a person fascinated by the evolution of self and by human potential. My childhood was chaotic, but it also introduced me to things like meditation and energy healing at a very young age. By aged 16 I was investigating Buddhism, by 18 I was a determined atheist, and at 23 I was exploring the New Age.
At some point I realised it was all from the same source, and became committed to the only religion I think makes sense -- that of human compassion and kindness. Not blind kindness, but determined, wise kindness, based on boundaries and honesty.
By 38, I could no longer countenance the film world. I wanted to do things that helped people, and I felt a bit lost in a world of hungry power and fame vampires.
To the shock of many, I quit my successful career as a screenwriter and story editor and went over to self-development, retraining in coaching and counselling.
Then began my obsession with the online environment.
Always ahead of the curve, I retrained early in SEO writing and taught myself Wordpress, as I could see print media was on the way out. I then created a niche for myself in mental health and psychology content.
When other journalists were panicking I was making a decent living in the "New World" , and building up a website to over 4 million unique visitors a year.
I've worked under many names, and for some years as a ghost (never again). But in summary, if you read self development or psychology, you've already read my work.
I knew I'd reached some sort of pinnacle when I discovered many websites built using all my (stolen) content. (At this point chasing all my stolen work is a part-time job I had to delegate elsewhere).
And when I was hiring a team of writers and someone sent me a writing sample. That was actually my own work. You can imagine the lovely letter I sent him in reply. Oh dear....
My Story (for the Nosy Amongst You)
My career with words began at the age of 14 when a story I wrote won an award. When I showed up and was a reserved white girl and not the ballsy black girl that narrated the tale, I could see actual anger in the judges faces. See that they had felt smug about themselves and their choice to give the award to someone they assumed underprivileged and I had let them down.
Words were political. Words could make people feel conned. Words could make a young girl feel like she had done something wrong, or wasn't good enough.
I still had no intentions to be a writer. I had never even considered it. But in my first year attending uni to be a translator, I realised I had one week left to apply for a different stream the following year or be stuck in French hell forever. So I found myself frantically ploughing through the school's prospectus. I came across a Creative Writing program, thought it would do. Put together a portfolio over a few days, applied, and got accepted.
Needing money, I started pitching magazines, and was publishing with places like the then notorious Vice before graduating. (Not sure if I should admit that my first published article was on female ejaculation. But these things happen when you are writing for Vice).
As for my fiction, I was vainly convinced of my talent. Sent off a collection of shorts to Harper Collins, and quickly received a letter. The letter said they thought I had talent and the stories would be published elsewhere, but they would rather wait to see a first novel. Looking at this letter now I am stunned at my luck, and at how at that age I transformed this into a great rejection, as I had my heart set on Harper Collins and only them.
I felt it was a lost cause, and took off to teach English in Japan for a year. Where I published a fanzine. As one does.
Let's go faster with this story. Got back to Toronto from Japan, needed a job, was told there was a callout for a job at some creative warehouse in the area. But the person who told me this couldn't remember what the job actually was, just what time you could go and interview. I stood in a line with no idea what I was lining up for!
And bagged the job of receptionist at a music video production company. Within a month I was writing treatments for videos that then had a director's name slapped on them and were doing well. Someone told me about a short film screenwriting contest. Wrote a script, won. Wrote a feature script in two weeks, got into the Canadian Film Centre with it (a prestigious Toronto film school that takes only eight writers from across Canada a year).
I only decided to work in film to make money to write novels. Instead ten years of my life passed in a frenzy of work. I became known as a story expert (I became obsessed with the mathematics of story, with structure, character development, the psychology of it all). I did thousands of script reports, worked as a story editor, and was paid to develop seven features.
I then started directing shorts, won a decent budget for a 'calling card' short, and it was a massive disaster. Cue spoiled child actor with mother gone AWOL, L.A. art director high on coke who painted the wrong side of a house, a DOP who had planned all along to do a coup and make it his film, a driver who ended up having no license, and a soap star who seemed rightly horrified by it all.
The film got into festivals, but not the ones I wanted (I know I sound spoiled, but I was very ambitious and hard on myself). And I just decided, that wasn't fun. I'm done with film.
Nobody could believe me. But I packed my bags and moved to the UK and started working with a self-development company. Soon I was training in coaching and self-development.
Those who really me weren't surprised because self-development had been my obsessive hobby all along. I used to throw 'creative jams' in my apartment, and ran a 'girls with goals' group. I was fascinated by all things self development, from reading the entire Bible as a child, investigating Buddhism at aged 16, and devouring just about every self-help book going in my twenties.
Then I went back to school to be a person-centred therapist. Loved Carl Rogers and his theories. Hated the school I chose where the teachers didn't even vaguely live what they taught (the school had a 25% dropout rate that year due to those teachers, kicked off by yours truly leaving first. Always a leader, me, ha!).
A few months later I saw an ad looking for a qualified therapist to write blog posts. I applied, admitting I didn't finish my training but was on the other hand a great writer. And so began my career writing mental health and psychology content.
I then trained in SEO writing, and taught myself Wordpress, as well as things like course creation, email marketing, and content management systems. I became absolutely fascinated by the power of the internet to spread ideas. At one point I was running ten sites.
And I'm still fascinated. Massively passionate. Content is queen, and everything in between. Let's work together and do something important with the time we have in this wild, wonderful, and sometimes terrifying world.