Friday, July 29, 2011

In Case You Were Wondering, No Word on That Job

We are apparently in a world where a person can go through a second-round interview--after they reject you once, then call you back in--then hear absolutely nothing. I get that folks are busy, but if I'm covering all of my thank-you note bases and you are, presumably, down to your final candidates, can you not at least notify me? Just seems like courtesy to me. Sigh.

That's the job market today, though, apparently. I'm in the process of signing up for a temp agency (with two more on the horizon once I get my portfolio together). Dude told me that they don't have much, and, uh, where are my administrative skills, again? Seriously. I found myself doing what I hoped was a persuasive hard sell on the fact that I have administrative skills. After working in an office of some sort for a gazillion years, doing letters, mail merges, excel sheets, and overseeing publications dissemination and mailing house details, I'm apparently not qualified for low-pay, low-level administrative work.

I can't decide whether I'm naive or just deluded, but my experience of lower-level administrative positions is that when you're looking to fill them, you long for the folks who can think independently, follow instructions, and be smart about things. This has been the case for every person I've ever hired to help me, anyway. It was by no means a common trait.

I could manage plugging ever onward if I knew that it was just a matter of patience and targeting. But what's really getting me down are all the implicit judgments: idiots on facebook yammering about all the shiftless, money-sucking unemployed people taking all their hard-earned money; well-meaning folks wondering why shiftless money-sucking unemployed people don't just take any job (do you know how it's not a simple tier, at least for employers, and that you're competing with people with retail experience, restaurant experience, ahem, administrative experience?).

You'd think that it would be easier to find a job when you're focusing on your writing and just need income. Flexibility! I'll do whatever, I'm not picky. But why should any employer who has their pick of really dedicated, career-oriented people pick this person who--seemingly, but not in actual fact--has one foot out the door. And all of the career mistakes I've made up until this point really get hammered home. Yes, I stayed too long for the secure paycheck, and if I were really so smart, savvy, and talented, wouldn't someone else have hired me on? In a perfect universe, signs point to yes. And we loop back around to: "well, why are you XYZ? Clearly you weren't the very tippy top, so we don't have any interest in you."

This is all starting to get to me, big time. In some ways, it was easier out of the undergrad gate. I had a spiffy degree from a decent university and could write a persuasive letter. No tea-leaf dregs of my entire work history to scrutinize.

Clearly I just need to hit it big with my novel.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

One Partial Fulfillment Component Down!

I am, as we speak, formatting my long critical paper according to official specifications. Two days before my deadline for initial draft, I sent it off to my mentor, who turned it around in mere hours and called it good. My working theory is that, since he is not a human, he doesn't sleep. If I'm feeling like sprucing, I can make my opening a bit more compelling (I agree, that was something I intended to do once I got initial input), but the thing covers all appropriate bases. Woo! But . . . unexpectedly easy. On the basis of classmate horror stories, I hadn't anticipated this process to be wrapped up so quickly.

Thanks, alma mater! Apart from teaching me the hard lesson that I--former perfect student and class-superlative proclaimed Smartest Girl--could get a D, you taught me how to look at works of fiction. Here in MFA-land, I'm continually reminded how important that is.

I tell you, this English major stuff is like riding a bike.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Making Me Hopeful But Also Full of Despair

This article. It's just a little close to where I am, at the present, what with the job picture. I also plug away at the novel and fear failure. But you can't really bitch if you're not doing the work in full faith, right?

So I plug away.

Here's What Not To Do When You're Keyed Up and Anxious

Drink lots of coffee. Seriously, that does nothing to help.

I hate it when a seemingly normal day takes a turn for the stressful. First, the cat appears to be veering uncomfortably close to her colitis-like experience again. I do not fancy an emergency vet trip or worries about dehydration (these kidney failin' kitties live life in a precarious balance). And oh my god, I do not have that in the budget right now.

Then, the hot-water tap on the shower--which has taken power-tool levels of effort to prevent from dripping at a constant stream--finally stopped turning off at all. So we did an emergency workaround that means we are sans hot water until the plumber can show up.

I want to focus and get stuff done, but it seems my day will involve worriedly hawkish observance of a cat.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ready to Steam Ahead!

I was so afraid of this project period, containing as it does the bulk of my field study and my long critical paper. In addition to which, my new mentor is THE guy for folks working on longer projects, so I'm wading into novel territory.

So a lot on my schoolwork plate right now. Happily, however, I did the heavy lifting of outlining my critical paper: topic, examples, references. And I just got the thumbs up from mentor that I may proceed. Woohoo! I'm not too unnerved by analytical papers, but I have some PTSD from undergrad that makes me cringe a bit. I wasn't the most diligent organizer of a paper, you might say. In the days when one had to sit in a computer lab to power through on 10-pager on Villette, for example, I tended to want to lackadaisically follow a mental thread and not spend too much time on revision. Stop oppressing my free thought and spontaneous creation!

But I managed to pull together a coherent proposal, so yay me. The novel I'm discussing is a mere 500 pages (!!) and currently stuffed with post-it notes. My goal is to bang this out in two weeks.

And this morning during my run, I had some good thoughts on what I want to do for my longer fiction project this term. I'm anxious to get the critical paper out of the way so I can start sketching it out.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I Am the Master of My Destiny

According to the director of my program, writing is a "vocation." We do these things because we have to, we don't have a choice. Of course, the fact that one makes no money at this unless they have the good fortune to be a Stephen King means that there needs to be balance and gap-filling to live a life above poverty level.

So. Creative people come up with creative solutions, right? We are portable workers, this is a flexible economy, you see, where the 40-hour work week is becoming a thing of the past. (If you put any stock into the newsfeeds on yahoo, which seem to trend toward: "Economy on Rebound! Corporate Profits Up!" and "Good News! That Advanced Degree Won't Hurt You Anymore, Because Employers Can Aim High and Know You've Got No Better Jobs To Jump Ship To.")

I interviewed yesterday for a part-time job at a nonprofit. It would be 15-20 hours a week, with a eye-glazing commute. I think that it went well, and I really hope they offer it to me. I'm thinking of this in Holly Golightly terms: "I'll always keep the candy store; Sally Tomato, he's my candy store. I'll always have Sal, and that's why I'll be richer than she is." One solid segment, augmented with some freelancing (built up) and, if I can find it, some restaurant or evening retail work.

And, if this job pans out, it will give me a great opportunity to develop skills in grantwriting, which you may or may not know, are in very high demand. Good grantwriters can do decent freelance business.

Fingers crossed for me, peeps.