Writer Morgan McAllister has been connected to NASA from the day he was born at a hospital across the street from the Johnson Space Center, where both of his parents worked.
“I am a NASA brat,” says the 31-year-old queer trans man. “My mother, Donna McAllister, worked at Johnson Space Center as head librarian for many years. She was also a branch chief and was awarded the Silver Snoopy for her contributions to the shuttle program.”
His father worked for NASA as well, first as a contractor and then as a civil servant. McAllister’s turn to work at NASA came during his graduate internships, and later with a contractor from the organization’s public-affairs office.
While McAllister loved NASA, it was the written word that stole his heart. “My brother and I were given a lot of room for creativity,” he recalls. “My mom let me read and write anything I wanted. Unsurprisingly, she was staunchly against any form of censorship.”
Ever since he was a kid, McAllister knew that becoming a writer was a viable option for him. “When every one of my professors in community college started commenting on my knack for writing and encouraging me to make a living off it, I decided to go with my heart.”
After earning his associate’s degree in biology at San Jacinto College, he decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in professional writing and a master’s degree in technical communication at the University of Houston-Downtown.
Today, McAllister is a writer at the Houston-based RedShift, a high-powered, lightning-fast copywriting agency that lives to write and writes to brand. “It’s pretty neat to be paid for my favorite activity,” he says.
McAllister is now the happiest he’s ever been in a job. “I joined RedShift over the summer, which was really a kind of a coming home for me. I worked for them as a contract writer back in 2017 while I was going to grad school.”
And RedShift really seems to be nurturing his creativity. “There’s nothing like working with a team of other writers every day,” McAllister notes. “Since the job is completely done from home, I’ve had plenty of time to recover from recent top surgery and work on other health issues, both physical and mental.”
Working from home has allowed him to spend more time enjoying the great outdoors, and has given him space to resume writing fiction and poetry in his spare time, for the first time in years.
McAllister adds that the favorite part about being a writer is that he gets to put thoughts in other peoples’ heads and persuade them. “It’s a little like magic!”
McAllister wishes more people knew that they’re already writers, whether they realize it or not. “And more than that: everyone can be a competent writer. It just takes practice, and a lot of reading. Have faith in yourself, and be kind to your writing when you’re practicing. Keep everything you write.”
McAllister is also happily partnered. “My partner’s name is Devlyn, and she and I are the devoted servants of three kitties: Noodle, Tortellini, and Dorabelle. Devlyn and I have been together for two years. It’s the most rewarding and loving romantic relationship I’ve ever been in.”
At both his community college and his university, McAllister was the president of student LGBTQ groups. “These days, I’m involved in several online and offline queer and trans peer support groups, and I even run one of my own. I’m passionate about things like sex education and body positivity, in particular,” he says.
As for the future, he’s got plenty of dreams. He’d like to write a novel about Scáthach, a warrior from the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology who built her own military academy. And, McAllister notes, “I’d love to go back to school and get my PhD in technical writing someday.”
For more info, visit redshiftwriters.com.
This article appears in the November 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.