It was love at first write. I had landed a great gig. They said I was the perfect fit.
They said that.
After various phone calls with the publisher, our initial meet and greet was just a formality; semantics if you will. I arrived at the magazine’s headquarters and was warmly introduced to the editor-in-chief. Within minutes it felt as if we had known each other from a previous life. She and I, along with the publisher immediately began exercising our gift of gab like three sorority sisters. We exchanged tips of the trade ranging from various MacBook Air shortcuts to the fastest and most efficient way to upload high resolution pics though none came before being showered up the whazoo with compliments on my chic, journalistic look!
Ohhhh, I love your shoes!
Where did you get that messenger bag?
Using it as a case for your computer is the best idea.
And canary yellow is the perfect color!
Your glasses are awesome.
Are those Mantra Bands?
OMG you really are pretty witty and gritty.
In addition to your writing, let’s definitely showcase your style. Do you have photos?
This job would be an opportunity for me to write freely and explore my creative edge. No topic was off limits. Having the liberty to pick and choose my own subject matter was a dream come true! The powers that be felt my smart-alecky writing approach would be a fresh and welcomed angle to their circular. But there was one stipulation: no curse words! Okay, that’s cool. No sweat. I can still get my point across sans the F word. My unpolished stories would reach tens of thousands of homes on a monthly basis and that was the kind of exposure I had been looking for.
I knew this job would be da bomb even if I couldn’t drop the F bomb! My laptop was fully charged and so was I.
Though I was clearly being hired for my out-of-the-box unpolished POV, we mutually agreed the first article should be somewhat introductory in nature.
Introduce yourself to the readers. Tell an engaging story about yourself. Make the audience want to know more. We love your sassiness and our readers will too. Use it as you see fit but remember, no cursing. We don’t want to scare anyone away!
Two days, a brazen-faced photo and 400 words later I had submitted my first article. Fully aware it was more fustian and less Faulkner, I was proud of my work. It was exactly what they asked for. But better. They were gonna love it. At least I thought so.
Even though I was a rookie essayist to say the least, I knew enough to know the turnaround time for receiving editor’s notes in the event a rewrite was due in order to meet deadline was quickly approaching. I left a voicemail or three. I emailed. I heard nothing.
I thought it was love at first write but like sand through the goddamn hourglass, these are the days of my life so what the fuck was taking so long?
Finally I got some feedback relative to my initial piece and after much ado about nothing I turned in a revision.
I was fine with the constructive criticism. I expected the constructive criticism.
What came next, I didn’t expect!
Soooooo, we got your story. And, well… Um. Well, we got your story and well first off let me start by saying we love you. We think you’re terrific.
Oh no, I thought to myself. This can’t be good. There’s a BUT coming. I can feel it. Killing me with kindness right out of the gate means only one thing: She’s about to kill my story altogether.
So, we liked your story but well, we’re concerned our readers aren’t quite ready for you. We think maybe some of them might be a little offended.
Offended? By what? The article was short and sweet and I didn’t use the F word once. I even quoted Shakespeare at the end. How could anyone be offended by Shakespeare?
Yes, I know; but if the publication had a bigger presence…… I mean, we’re new here in town and I don’t want to ruffle anyone’s feathers. We’re worried this might start us off on the wrong foot.
Um, okay, So now what? You want me to rewrite it again?
No. Yeah. No. Well that’s the thing. I think we’re gonna go in another direction. With another writer. If you think you can tweak your work to fit our style for a future issue we can reassess then.
Wait. What? You’re firing me? You hired me specifically for my snarkiness and now you’re firing me for my snarkiness? Now that’s unpolished!
I hung up the phone feeling confused. And pretty pissed. Why would they tell me I was exactly what they wanted when in fact I was exactly what they didn’t want?
My nine year old son had been in earshot of the whole conversation. He quickly came over to me and asked lovingly, “Mom, what’s wrong? What’d she say?“
“Well,” I replied. “To put it bluntly, I think she said the F word!”
“WHATTT? She said FUCK?” He exclaimed.
Feeling better already, I chuckled and answered, “No. Not fuck! She said THE OTHER F WORD.”
JUST TO LET YOU KNOW… It was love at first write but it’s over now. Before it even started. At the end of the day, I’m not changing who I am and how I write for anyone. Fuck that!
“And though she be but little, she is fierce.” -Shakespeare.