I am two parts commercial writer, one part travel writer and one part creative writer. I have six years experience, including two managing other writers. I moved to Canada and back. Now it’s like I am on the other end of an electric fence and I can’t get back into the job market.
Maybe they could sense that I was in Quebec, like a baby bird rejected from its mother because a human touched it.
I have been looking for work since April, when I moved back here. I have had countless job interviews. I am not desperate, not complaining, but I am frustrated. I need work and although I currently freelance write for multiple travel publications, there are long stretches of time spent in PJs writing a humorous inner monologues from vampires and bizarre stories about old folks’ homes.
I need to make money.
I looked into getting an MFA, the holy grail of validation. Writers. Sitting around, talking about writing. Going on retreats. Writing. Ripping apart their colleagues’ work. Writing.
It would cost $16,500, layered on top of student loans from my bachelor’s degree (currently $8,000, almost half the original amount). I’d love to do it. But I decided before sinking into debt to search for my Mr. Miyagi. A writer-mentor. Someone who will make me paint a fence if I don’t hand something good in.
Please ring in if you found your Mr. Miyagi. And how. And with his or her phone number, svp.
Job Market Annoyances
It’s rough out there still. I made it through the 2008-2009 crisis with only one lay-off in the family (there are only two and a half of us, if you count the dog). We didn’t have to downsize since we were already living in a tiny apartment situated next to a half-way house. The view was great if you could look above the crazy people.
Expedia is my unrequited love. I would be so perfect there and it kills me that they don’t know it. I speak French! I write about hotels! Granted, my french sounds like a braying donkey, but still. I keep sending them applications, like my “stalker” senior year of high school who passed me note after note with little drawings of bats in the margins.
Devaluation of Writers
Writers are devalued. And it’s getting worse. I blame content farms, flea-sized attention spans, and the general attitude that “anyone can do this.” I also blame those who want to be writers but don’t actually read or write. Kind-of the first step, people. Stop clogging these jobs with your “I have never written anything in my life, but I want to be a writer” resumes.
There are much better jobs that pay more.
Common job descriptions for writers:
Get published! Write a 500-word post. $5 per post. But you’ll be published, like on a real website, and get to tell all your little friends that you’re not a loser after all. Impress people at dinner parties with your “published” e-how article on how to get yellow stains out of the armpits of shirts. Fascinating work!
Be a writer. Write blog posts, articles, newsletters, correspondence, novels, biographies, etc. our growing business. You’ll also have to design websites and engage in light filing & reception work. You’ll also have to edit film. Hope you can do all of these things in a pressure-cooker.
Hiring managers are too picky. I get that a bad hire is expensive. BUT I have been on several job interviews where I KNOW I could do the job and they don’t hire anyone and keep it open. They’re not just searching for a writer. They’re searching for a writer who writes about their obsure industry or a writer who can design or a writer who could peel a banana with their toes. I write in a lot of different voices and enjoy research. I apologize for my lack of knowledge about coin collecting.
It’s like your picky single friends whining about how they can’t find anyone. What about Tim? Tim’s nice. So what if he wears socks with sandals? So what if he cuts his pizza with scissors?
Scam Temp Agencies
Some temp agencies are a scam. There’s nothing like the disappointment of finding a perfect job, then scrolling down and seeing that it’s from one of these agencies. It’s like finding out there’s no Santa Clause or that Starbucks got rid of the salted caramel hot chocolate. You get that nervous-excited feeling in your stomach. You spend hours crafting the perfect application. Then get a phone call from the agency begging you to sign up. You sign up. Poof!
The job vanishes. Meanwhile, your resume is sent adrift among thousands of other hopeful job seekers. If you do land a job, the agency gets a cut of your salary.
But you probably won’t hear from that agency again. They’ll avoid your calls.
Is it hopeless? Where are you, my Mr. Miyagi?