Monday, November 25, 2013

How Hope Springs Eternal in the Mind of a True Optimist

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
― Oscar Wilde

I don't write about my work in my blog.  Have you noticed?  I spew on and on about everything under the sun but I don't refer to my workplace at all.   I think it's unprofessional to write (a.k.a. "complain") about your work in a personal blog.  I am not going to write about it today (much) other than to say I am starting a NEW job on Monday...a job I am well-suited for and ridiculously excited about. 

But I have to tell you the story about how I GOT there.

I had been looking for other work for some time.  I had been interviewing here and there and came close to snagging a few positions but never quite got there.  It was befuddling to me because I have always been a person who could secure a new job in just a couple of months.  The economy has shifted, however, and I am at a different place in my career. Times are hard for a mid-level marketer.

I grew more and more frustrated in my work but just couldn't seem to move anywhere.  Finally, one day several weeks ago, I threw up my hands in disgust and said, "OK, God, obviously I am not getting anywhere on my own.  Put me where you want me. I am letting this go."  The phone rang the next day.  (I'm not kidding.)

I began interviewing in earnest.  People were e-mailing me for interviews and calling me for interviews.  I've not seen anything like it in the two years I've been dabbling with finding a new position.  It was like God was saying, "See, kid?  All you had to do was ask for help...and trust Me."

One day, I received an e-mail from someone who had an editor job open at a local magazine.  WHAT?  That was a WRITING JOB!  I had sent in my resume on the off-chance that someone might make a mistake and call me because I didn't have ANY experience for the position other than my own desire to write and my years of toiling away in the business world.  We set up a phone interview.

The interview was brief and I hung up, discouraged.  She reiterated several times that they were looking for a "seasoned editor."  Well, obviously I had zero experience so they'd have to look elsewhere for a little salt-and-pepper.

A couple of days later,  I received an e-mail inviting me in to interview with the editor-in-chief.  WHAT??  That guy is a REAL WRITER.  He's a REAL GOOD WRITER.  I read everything he'd written in the past...oh...three years and I put on a jacket and I went to talk with him.

He questioned me about my ability to be a journalist.  We talked back and forth for a while and I told him earnestly that I could DO IT.  I could be a writer.  I AM a writer.  I have the business card, for goodness sake.

I asked him to give me a chance to show him that I could write.  He let me interview him for a "real" story, coaching me a little along the way about what questions to ask.  After a bit, he told me that NOW it was time for the REAL interview.  He was SUPER NICE.  And he was a REAL WRITER.  I was in awe, honestly.

I walked into the president's office and took a seat.  The conversation as follows is not verbatim, but it's pretty darn close.

President:  "I haven't really had a chance to look over your resume, but I'm wondering how on EARTH you got through two levels of interviews to be sitting here.  You have NO EXPERIENCE."

Me:  "But I DO have experience.  I just don't have experience in this PARTICULAR area.  I am a non-traditional candidate, see?  In my heart, I am a writer."

President: "You seem like a SALESPERSON.  Why aren't you in sales? Salespeople make money.  Writers don't make money."

Me:  "I could be a salesperson.  Do you have a job in sales?"

President:  "Are you going through some sort of mid-life CRISIS?  Why are you sitting here?"

Me:  "Because I CAN WRITE.  I can do it.  I can be a GOOD writer.  In my heart, I am a writer."

President: "In your heart...if I told you that I had a job washing cars, would you want to do that, too?"

Me:  "No.  I don't want to wash cars.  But sales I could do.  Writing I could REALLY do."

It went back and forth for quite some time.  It was the toughest interview I ever sat through.  He asked me questions designed to dig out pieces of my character.  It was fascinating.  And exhilarating.  And I loved it.  I didn't know what to think about it when it was over but I loved that I was able to have the experience of interviewing for a REAL WRITING JOB. 

The next Monday, I received my first job offer from a small company looking for a marketing director.

I emailed the magazine and told them I had an offer.  I needed to know if they were at ALL interested in moving me through the next phase before I accepted any other offer.  

And I kept interviewing.

I received an email from the magazine.  I WAS STILL IN THE RUNNING.  I was scheduled for the final leg:  a writing test. (Holy crap.  Did they KNOW that I had no experience?  Yes, they told me that they KNEW I had no experience.  Why on earth was I still in the running?  I was BEYOND thrilled.)

I kept interviewing.

I went into the writing test, nervous but beyond excited.  I sat down and "interviewed" a senior editor playing a role.  I then wrote my very first article in my very first newsroom and handed it in.  I was thrilled.

I received another job offer...and, much like Godfather lore, it was something I simply couldn't refuse.  I will be able to write in my new position...not like the REAL WRITER job, but enough to make me grow.  I emailed the folks at the magazine and told them I was taking the other job.

It was a great ride.  For just a moment in time, I was there in a newsroom, tapping away on the keys like a Real Writer.  I sat there through those interviews believing enough in myself and my abilities to convince other people that MAYBE, just MAYBE, I could do something I had never done before.  It was glorious.  I will never, ever forget it. 

And along the way, I learned a valuable lesson:  sometimes it's a good thing to let go of the reins in life.  I hope it's a lesson that stays with me.

Time to get ready for my last few days of my old job. 

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