It is often advised to avoid crossing one’s professional life with the personal. However, it was what Alex Warren did to enhance his love life that ultimately ended up advancing his career.
Warren, a Lima, Ohio native and 2012 Ohio State graduate, is a self-proclaimed sports guy. During his time studying communication and broadcasting at OSU, he scored an internship at the Big Ten Network in Columbus.
His recent endeavor, though, has taken him from gathering news as a reporter to writing in iambic pentameter. In August, Warren published and released his first book “Wisdom & Vision: 70 Inspiring Poems on How to Live a Meaningful Life,” which explores perseverance and overcoming obstacles through poetry.
“Basically, for me, (writing poetry) started off as me trying to impress girls and things of that nature,” Warren said. “There was a girl I was trying to impress, and she really liked poetry, so I decided to give it a shot. And, when I read (the poem) to myself, I thought, ‘Man, this is really cheesy, really corny,’ and I actually ended up giving it to the girl, and she actually liked it. She actually ended up asking me on a date.”
Courting this “popular” girl three years his senior in high school inspired Warren to write poetry aimed at entertaining readers with simple rhyme schemes, he explained. Courting a different girl his second year at OSU, though, inspired a book infused with spiritual meaning.
“It was more or less kind of a joke, and again, it also involved a girl,” Warren said. “But actually, she told me that I should write a book of poetry, and she thought I was good at it. So I entertained the idea, wrote a couple of poems, kind of just put it all together.”
Warren put the book aside once the two stopped talking, but resurfaced the project as he began to take advantage of the opportunities afforded to him through OSU. Most notably, when Warren landed an internship at Big Ten Network in 2012, something he felt was “impossible,” he decided, “Why not write a book? If I can do this, why not do even more?”
At first, Warren admitted to writing the book with the intention to impress his family and friends, who he said were caught by surprise when he informed them of his writing venture.
“I was shocked (when he told me he was writing a book),” said Toyosi Azeez, an OSU Autumn 2013 graduate in economics and long-time friend of Warren. “(Warren) is typically quiet, and for him to put out a book, that is something typically an extrovert would do, but I wasn’t too shocked because he is ambitious and hard-working in the things he tries to achieve.”
Warren, though, believes the shock of his announcement was rooted in his origins and where he grew up.
“I came from a really small city. I didn’t have any outstanding talent, I wasn’t really known for anything of that nature,” Warren said. “It wasn’t a really successful, you know, you-can-do-whatever-you-want type of place. If you were able to do that much, you were good.”
Beyond the pages of his book, Warren often wrote poems for individuals going through hard times. When he wrote an encouraging poem for his friend, 24-year-old Columbus resident Karina Higginbotham, she says she had an “emotional response.”
“I cried. I think in life you always try to do good, be the best person you can be, but sometimes I am hard on myself. So if I think I am not being as successful or as good as I can be, then I get hard on myself. And when someone else, like Alex, sees all that good in you and you don’t see it in yourself, sometimes it gets emotional,” Higginbotham said.
Realizing his poetry’s impact, Warren, who describes himself to be very spiritual, realized he was publishing “for all the wrong reasons.”
“I thought to myself, ‘What if I can actually get a positive message out there, what if I can help different people?’” Warren said.
With Warren’s brother marketing and promoting his poetry and his mother editing and scoping for a place to manufacture her son’s manuscript, two and a half years later, “Wisdom & Vision” was published by AuthorHouse in Bloomington, Ind. for around $500. The cost included the initial start without any corrections made to the writing, the book cover and library rights, Warren said.
At 22 years old, Warren begins “Wisdom & Vision” with a disclaimer, explaining that he does “not have life figured out. Not by a long shot.” However, he hopes by reflecting on his own experiences thus far, others will pick up a few nuggets of wisdom.
“I didn’t really have a future set out, and just being at Ohio State and being able to talk to a whole bunch of people from a whole bunch of different cultures and see how they were living or how it was like at their own home, you know I thought to myself in this world, a lot of people were trying to do a lot … people were fixated with (an) idea, with that drive, and I think a lot of people are motivated. That’s why I always (believe) that our future is going to be brighter than the past,” Warren said.
“Wisdom & Vision” is available through Amazon and at Barnes & Noble locations close to campus, including North High Street and Lennox Town Center locations. The first quarter of sales resulted in about seven to nine copies sold at $13.46 per paperback copy and $3.99 per Kindle copy each, Warren said, but at the start of the year, he plans to promote the book more through events and book signings.
Regardless of revenue generated, Warren says feedback has been positive so far.
“(One reader from California) ended up hitting me up on Facebook, chatting … and she told me that she really liked it, not particularly because of the poetic type of feel, but because along the lines of it is so much about life and you can somehow find a way to make the different things that happen in life make sense,” Warren said. “And that really touched me.”
As Warren continues interning at Big Ten, he is in the midst of writing and researching his next book about the importance of chasing after a dream, he said. With the preliminary title “Dreams of Success,” the book will delve into using one’s natural talents to make the history books and finding purpose in life.
After all, Warren no longer sees attaining dreams as impossible.
“For me, actually writing this book, I thought it was impossible because of the fact I had no idea, you know, what would go into writing a book or how to set it up or how to get a publisher or even how to market it if I sell it,” Warren said. “And when it actually all came together, it more or less felt like I pretty much did the impossible.”