How’s your week been so far? I’ve gotten done with an edit (so far as I know). I’ve had time to slow down, and I’m feeling a bit lost, but in a relaxed way. I’m shifting toward other parts of my life that take a lesser role when I have an edit on (prospecting, writing, taking the novel course online that I signed up for, or what-have-ya).
Which is all good. Really good. Which made me realize I need to do better at getting other things done that aren’t the primary thing when I still have a primary thing.
(And yes, if you’re wondering, there are times I feel guilty when I’m not working. Although, if you’re a writer, like I am, you know you could work 16 hours a day for 50 years and still not get it all in–there are too many ideas, clients, and awesome projects to be had out there).
All of this was brought to the fore a couple weeks back when I flopped an interview to land a job as a direct mail copywriter in the Ohio area. It wasn’t for me, the copywriter who was checking people out for the prospect said, after talking to me for a while. As he dug into my background during our chat, it got painfully clear to me I reaped the disaster of not preparing for the interview.
First of all, I made the mistake of thinking this was not going to be an interview. We’d introduce ourselves, talk about the job requirements, bat things back and forth, and that would be that.
No. No, it wasn’t. He asked if I had an English major, and I said no, because I hadn’t gone to college. Most of the training I got, I got on the job–the practical stuff. I do have other hands-on experience–I have taken a writing course that was good for a couple credits from the Connecticut Board of Education, but I didn’t apply for them. And before I signed on with the folks I freelance for, I also got training in editing from an online course, and training in proofreading by assisting the folks over at Project Gutenberg proofread public domain stuff before the files got uploaded as e-books.
But I never got to any of that, I got so flummoxed with what the dude was saying because I realized I couldn’t give him the answers he wanted/needed.
I also told the guy about my copywriting training. After looking at my website, he told me to tweak my samples so that I could avoid possible legal hot water, which I did, and then said he was looking for someone with a plan, who was driven, and who knew what they wanted to do.
“Where you see yourself in 2 or 3 or 5 years?” I’ve always thought of those questions with a dread that I have for questions like “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I couldn’t answer the second question when I was a kid, and I have trouble answering the first question now. For some reason I always thought any answer would sound like a huge lie because plans change, people change, the world changes. It would seem like it didn’t really mean anything.
He was testing me to see if I could paint a picture, like I would for a prospect in a sales presentation, maybe. And I pretty well flubbed.
If I want to go to Japan in three years, for example, I can take steps, sure. If I get married in 18 months as a further piece of this example, could I still make it to Japan in the time frame I set? Don’t know. Plans don’t have to be set in stone, but if you have no intention of following through or up on them, why bother?
I responded horribly to the questions he gave when he was secretly hoping I could differentiate myself from others–meaning with stuff that didn’t make a difference at all (attempting to use my age and perspective as a factor, and falling on my face–metaphorically). He told me to spend some time thinking about what I wanted to do and how to get there, if I wanted to make changes in my life.
Good advice, and I took it. He told me not to come away from the conversation with–he didn’t finish it. I got the feeling he wanted to say something like “the idea that you’re worthless and need to jump off a tall building.”
He said he could see that I could write, and that’s good.
I also didn’t connect the dots between writing copy and writing fiction like I do here, which may have helped me along a bit more.
Was the guy trying to be mean or discourage me? No, and he said so. He’s a realist, and he said I’d have to work to set myself apart from industry pros with decades of experience, who could write all types of copy, some of which I had no experience with (I didn’t even get the chance to tell him about my video sales letter training that I’d gone through, or the script I wrote–he said I’d need to broaden my horizons beyond the email medium). Which I have, but I couldn’t spit it out for some reason or other, and kept falling further and further behind.
Preparation is key to a good story, email, or what-have-ya. Yes, there’s a place to be spontaneous, but if you have a framework of some kind, setting things up becomes much easier.
And even if you think something is going to be small, plan for something bigger. And no matter what, keep moving things forward and learn from what happens to you.
Until next time,