Today's hop, Origins, is the brain child of DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude,
Alex J. Cavanaugh is a co-sponsor, along with Katie Mills aka Creepy Query Girl and Matthew MacNish at The QQQE.
The question is: How did we all begin?
I was sitting on the potty when my life changed in the spring of 2005.
(If there’s anyone left reading this who’s not related by blood or marriage – bear with me, there is a point:)
Having just moved to Central Florida and the Space Coast, my wife and I were in the newly wed phase.
Work wise though, I was a mess, after months working in a local credit union, I was looking – searching – for a change. I knew the teller position was temporary, but couldn’t figure what I was transitioning toward.
|My First Edition|
Every Friday, the local weekly newspaper, The Hometown News, appeared in our front yard. Sure, it was free, but it had interesting stuff about our neck of the woods. I enjoyed reading it.
So there I was, still on the potty, and I looked over the classified section only to read:
Staff Reporter position available. Bachelor’s degree in journalism and two years of experience required. Must know AP style. Should include clips with resume. Send resume to…
Hmmm, I did a mental inventory:
Journalism degree… no
Two years of experience… no
Knows AP style…no
Clips… ah yes, I do have one clip, but clips… no
Sheesh, I was the perfect candidate!
My resume was impressive (if you wanted a restaurant guy with fifteen years of experience that included time spent as a cowboy in Paris and a clown in Ibiza.)
Needing back up, I spent two days perfecting the one-page cover letter, to be sent alongside the
dodgy-looking interesting resume.
I couldn’t find a hard copy (it’s on a hard-drive that’s hardly working) so to paraphrase, parts of the letter said:
I may not have the degree you require – but I have more heart than another interviewee who does.
I may not have the experience you want, but I’ll work harder than anyone else on your team
I closed along the lines of:
I may be new to the world of writing, but I’m hungry to succeed, and given the chance I promise not to let you down, or make you regret your decision to hire me.
Emailing it over, I settled back, hopeful of a response in a couple of weeks.
Twenty-four hours later, my future boss (she just didn’t realize it) called to ask if I’d come in for an interview.
“Uh, OK, I suppose…”
This was not my response, but I did do the Electric Slide for the first time, as well as the White Man Can’t Dance Shuffle.
I later sat across from a no-nonsense, company vice president by the name of Tammy Raits, and one of the first things she said was:
“That was probably the best cover letter I have ever read.”
Well, it’s because my resume sucks, I thought… but did not say :)
|My First Clip - evah!|
We spoke for about an hour, and I explained how I got my first clip via a 2003 published article in a then-new magazine.
Tammy forwarded me over to the publisher, Steve Erlanger, who offered me the job – after he gave me The Speech that culminates in him making sure I’d put in a minimum of 150 percent of effort.
Soon after I started, and it was such a buzz (it still is) to see my byline for the first time – above the fold – on Friday the 13th of May, 2005.
While it wasn’t easy – I worked Monday to Friday from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. and the weekends as needed for several weeks – I taught myself how to take a story from idea to publication.
|Look Ma, I'm in the paper (and it's not the Police Blotter)|
While I’m super excited to co-write the memoir about Donald Braswell, the opera singer who lost his voice, I shall never forget the time spent learning and honing my skills as a beat reporter for a local newspaper.
It was a fantastic experience, and one I’d recommend to anyone breaking into the business of writing. Remember, you don’t need a degree or experience, you just need to believe in yourself.
So that’s my origins… how did you end up here, reading this post? :)