Friday, December 9, 2011

And now, for the moment only I have been waiting for ...

Once upon a time I was a professional writer. Flash forward to now, three kids and a big mortgage later. What have a learned? We live in a society that does not value writers. Now, don't get me wrong. Are there writers out there who make a good living, who have profitable careers as writers, and who aren't miserable doing so? Sure. I hear these people exist. I see celebrated journalists taking the media by storm. I see bestsellers on the shelves of the surely-soon-to-be-defunct bookstores. Hell, I'll admit, I even know a few folks who seem relatively happy and somewhat "successful" in writing careers (although I'm certain none are paid what they're worth, and many have other jobs to supplement their income). But mostly what I see are talented writers taking jobs as teachers or marketing directors as a means of payroll improvement, if that's any indication of underpayment in the field. I see them going back to school for different, more lucrative degrees than English or journalism. I see them moving away from my fairly affluent mid-sized city to larger markets where pay scales are better. Seldom do I see them rising to a level of income, without taking one of these other routes, that's suitable to support a family. I'm sure occasionally a writer gets that big break that propels them into — not luxury, mind you — but comfort. But I don't know those writers. Those writers are the stuff of dreams and legends; and, frankly, I grew tired of toiling in Hell, waiting for the dream to happen.

So, what did I do? I crossed over to the dark side. That's right. I moved into sales. But before you judge, let me explain. Yes, I am now a pariah in modern American society. I am one of those people who has the nerve — no, the audacity — to call you and ask for an appointment. I want, desperately, to show you my wares (well, my virtual wares), and you avoid me like the plague, which is kind of confusing for me. After all, I don't want your firstborn child. I don't want your life, your youth, your knowledge or your ideas. I mean you no harm. In fact, I want to help! Truth be told, I could never, EVER, sell anything I didn't consider a good product that actually HELPED people. I'm not REALLY a salesperson. I'm an actress playing the part of a salesperson because it's better than being a writer, and that's the only other thing I know, besides being a mother, and a person, just like you.

I've joked (only half joked, really) about forming a nonprofit called Down With People. It would be sort of like Up With People, if you're familiar with that, only the skits and songs would be about what assholes people are instead of all the uplifting, empowering stuff. Because let me tell you, my friends (who surely are the only people reading this), people ARE assholes, especially to salespeople. Even people who used to seem nice are assholes when you're in sales. Not all people, mind you. If all of them were, then I wouldn't make any sales at all, and I'd have lost my job months ago. But many, many people are. When you're a salesperson, they think it's okay to ignore you. They don't return your calls and emails. They even lie, making up the most preposterous excuses for not meeting with you. It's surprising, even full-on weird, how people who seemed nice before, are cold and evasive. And, then you run into them at the grocery store. Yes. I spend much of my time these days in The Twilight Zone. So, why? Why do I do it?

I work from home. I don't have to show up to an office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (or later) like I used to. Yet, I get a salary, plus commission on sales, and benefits. (Take THAT, my writer friends!) On Mondays, I usually can work in my pajamas, making cold calls to set up meetings for the rest of the week. Before you get too jealous, though, understand that making cold calls is something like standing naked on a stage while people (some of whom you know casually and will see at the grocery store later) hurl tomatoes at you. NOBODY likes a cold caller. People will say ANYTHING to avoid meeting with you. You're lucky if you get past the gatekeeper. Occasionally you get hung up on. It sucks. But, again, I might be in my pajamas. My toddler might even be watching Dora in the next room. So, I grin and bear it. Okay, Sometimes I grimace and gnash my teeth. Rarely, I cry. But you get the point. I get to be at home. I can put a load of laundry in and start dinner whenever I want. I can greet the air conditioner repair guy, receive the UPS package and hang out with my dog, so ... you know ... I deal. The rest of the week I can set my appointments whenever I like. If my 9-year-old has an event at school, I just don't make an appointment at that time. And if my middle school student calls claiming she's sick (again, when I think she's probably not really), I can pick her up, bring her home and go about my business ... no clocking out, no boss to tell. It's cool.

But before you call me a slacker, let me make it known that sometimes I'm up checking email at 6 a.m. And, often I'm doing paperwork at 10 p.m. Much of the time, I don't take a real lunch. I have a lunch meeting, or I scarf down a bowl of cereal or leftovers from the night before while preparing for a 1:00 meeting. Or, I might be so busy I don't eat at all. So, it all equals out. I work a good 40 hours. It just isn't confined to the typical 8 to 5. (Whatever happened to 9 to 5, anyway?) For me, it isn't a matter of being preferable. At this point in my life it's the only thing that's doable. I have friends — maybe even some of you reading this now — who work traditional full-time jobs, raise children, maintain relationships with your spouses, keep a decent household, and you're fine with it ... maybe even HAPPY with it. If so, kudos to you! I mean this very sincerely. I admire you! You are amazing! But it's just not for me. With three children, including a toddler, I cannot even fathom braving the daily grind anymore the way it used to be. Even now, with a flexible schedule, I don't feel like I keep up with everything well ... the job, the kids, the marriage, the pets, the housework. I'm in over my head! But I make it work the best I can, and I'm extremely grateful for the many blessings bestowed on me in this life. I don't feel sorry for myself, and I don't criticize anyone for making different choices than mine. Everyone's different, and that's okay.

So, why have a launched this blog? Because I'm a writer. Duh! =-D I miss writing. It's what I love. It's what I know. It's not only that, though. I want to remind people to be kind. More than anything else since becoming a (dreaded) salesperson, I have realized how callous human beings can be. So often, they're too busy and too focused on what they already believe, what they KNOW, to let others in ... to connect with other human beings ... to learn something new. Let me leave you with this thought: If someone wants to meet with you — whatever the reason — accept the invitation. You just never know what doors it might open. They may have something to offer that can help you, and if not you personally, then someone else you know. You may realize you have something to offer that helps them. You may even make a new friend. (It's happened to me!) Besides, what do you have to lose? Maybe 15 minutes of your precious day? For expanding your circle and enriching your life, it's a small price to pay.


  1. As a former writer, I agree that although I was doing what I loved, I was held back financially and working additional hours even on the weekend. I've also been in direct sales and am currently in the non-profit realm and have learned that because I could give someone media exposure media expoure dianyone was willing to take my call. However, now that I can't provide media coverage, I am many times told by an assistant that the boss is in, to please hold, only to be told he or she was actually in a meeting. I've left countless voice mail messages that have never been returned. I may just be weird, but I've even returned wrong number messages just to make certain the person gets to the person whom they were calling and don't have to wonder why their call was never returned. I think common courtesy is a rarity these days.

  2. Looking forward to reading you, Lisa. And I will be kinder to cold calls :-)

  3. Amen, Stella! Common courtesy is a dying art I hope to help revive with my writings. Thanks, y'all, for the support!