Rrring, Rrring…

In order to boost sales of my expert writing services, I have cast the net, recently, into unfamiliar waters. Used to be, the phone would ring.

“Hey, Pam. Are you available to write a piece for us?”

I’d pitch my own ideas, in between the calls, and all would be well in the land of words.  These days, of course, the phone is pretty quiet. Do it differently, then, I told myself not long ago. Do it the way you haven’t done it before. Flex with changing times. Stretch, twist, be happy.

So, I posted my resume on several writing websites, in the place where writers say they are available for assignments. It felt weird, out there, on its own with people, anonymous people. Not like a story in a magazine, or a newspaper. These people you know. Anyway, I forgot that I had sent my life story into the ethers until the phone rang while we were eating dinner the other night. Yes, the phone. 

“Is Pamela there?”

“Who’s calling, please?”

“Greg.”

“Greg.”

“I saw your resume. Are you free to do an assignment?”

Wow. Just like that. No interview. No spec work. No writing samples. These online writing websites are super, I say to myself.

“What kind of assignment,” I ask, grabbing a pen from the kitchen counter.

“A script. Have you written scripts?”

“Oh, sure. I have written scripts,” I answer, encouraged. “What kind of script…industrial, commercial, film?”

“Adult.”

Okay, not kids. No little characters with blueberries for heads or anything. Adult, sure.

“You have to write that kind of stuff,” he went on.

Oh…adult. I thanked Greg and hung up.

“Who is Greg?” my twelve year old daughter asked. “And what was that about?”

My twelve year old daughter has a unique ability to hear three words and know exactly what is going on in the rest of a conversation. I could say, “No thank you,” and she could state the parties involved, offer made, and impetus for my reply.

“He asked if I could write a script.”

“You can write a script. What kind?”

“An adult script.”

They didn’t know the term.

“You know, G, PG, PG-13, R….it is after the R.”

“Oh,” both of my kids said. “Ick.”

Last night, I went to a school meeting about the transition from middle to high school. The subject was extracurricular activities. The journalism advisor stood in front of five hundred parents and kids and promoted the profession as a wonderful career, a way to hone analytical and creative skills, express yourself, see the world. I was pretty much stunned, given the current state of journalism. I do not think she should have been allowed to say that, in order to attract students to her class. As much as I love what I spend my time doing, or try to spend my time doing, she should not have been allowed to say that.




 


All Aboard, And That Means You, Haughty Editor

I read, with horror, this morning about yet another stunning blow to the publishing industry. It seems that three, count them, three magazine editors in New York descended into unspeakable depths. Down they went, step by well-heeled step, into the bowels of common experience. 

They took the subway.

Gasp.

It is not clear to me whether they ventured underground en masse, an imposing triumverate braced against the riff and raff, or whether they rode solo, belongings clenched under arms, eyes spinning around their heads like siren lights. However they traveled, the fact that their foregoing the Mercedes limo for public transportation is news, disgusts me. On several levels.

First, as “New Yorkers” (one is actually the editor of the magazine named the New Yorker, another of Gourmet and the last, Portfolio), you’d think they’d want to feel the beat of the place on a regular basis. I don’t know, but when I report on the circus, I want to ride the elephant. Sure, these people felt the beat years ago, when they had to because they weren’t editors and didn’t have drivers, but I don’t think memories are good enough. If you write about food, you have to shlep, as it were, on the sidewalk and smell the aromas. If you write about money, you have to rub up with the people putting tokens in the turnstyle, especially these days. And, heaven for bid, if you write about a city, or direct other people to write about a city, you have to, well, feel the city.

Second, I don’t like when people think they are better than other people because they have more money, or access to services that money provides.

Third, I don’t like when people toss aside the things that most people rely on out of necessity and could not live without. Toss out Oreos. 

Fourth, it gives my profession a bad reputation. It is hypocritical. Why didn’t these people take the subway, and the bus, before they lost all the ad pages and fired huge segments of their staff, the ones who routinely take the subway and the bus? 

When I had my first job as an editorial assistant at Working Woman Magazine on 43rd and Madison, I took the bus to work. My editor didn’t like that I was sometimes late. But, I told her that I come up with ideas on the bus, and write them down in a notepad. The ideas always came from what I saw, in the seat next to me, in the aisle, from the lady screaming to the driver before she got on. Sometimes, I nearly missed my stop. My editor tolerated the lateness because I was doing my job.

I think these editors should get out their little notepads and look around, again. My hunch is they’ve been missing the best stories.