Tag Archives: Writing

Am I Really Talented? Or Am I Fooling Myself?

Shakespeare blogger

copyright coxandforkum.com

I haven’t posted on this blog for the past few months because I’ve been going through a crisis of faith, if I can put it that way. I’ve been wondering if I’m really all that talented as a writer. Since I started The Grumpy Ferret one year ago (has it really been a year?), I’ve written over 40 posts about anything and everything. In some of my previous posts, I said that I felt writing was something I knew I could do innately. I felt validated by some of the positive responses given by readers. But something changed in the last three months. Maybe it’s the weather, or perhaps I’m feeling tired and dejected about my continuing hunt for meaningful full time employment (I landed a small part time teaching position in December that barely covers the monthly expenses). I’m two months into 2014; I’ve applied for 22 positions, and nothing has happened. I have the nagging feeling that somehow I’ve become redundant; my best years are behind me, and no one is really all that interested in hiring an experienced, well-educated, middle aged man. Never mind that I’m computer savvy, or that I’m totally comfortable blogging and using social media. Hey! I can Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter with the best of them. But does anyone care? Really, does anyone care?

Maybe I’m wallowing in a mudpit of gloom, but when it comes to looking for full-time work, it really feels like there’s a giant wall of indifference out there.

Perhaps I’m not really very talented after all. There’s just so many people publishing and writing these days. Do I have anything meaningful to contribute? Is anyone really all that interested in what I have to say? There have been times in these past few months when I just don’t know. Some people tell me I should write short stories. One or two are certain I could write a successful fantasy series like Harry Potter (thanks for the thought, Mum). But it’s hard to focus on writing when the landlord is knocking on the door, asking for the rent, let alone keeping the lights on and the internet connection active. I need a stable income, hence the continuing job search. At this stage of life, I’d probably feel less anxious and more hopeful about my writing talents if I could spend my time focused on that and not have to worry about where the money is coming from. I’d love to have a benefactor or patron who could help me to devote more of my time to writing. Like any craft, it takes practice, practice, and more practice. It’s still early in the year. All I can do is try to be more disciplined and keep writing regularly.

If you know any wealthy benefactors who are looking to support an aspiring, earnest writer, please send them my way 🙂

The Grumpy Ferret (who maybe, just maybe, has a smidgen of talent)

Dear Vancouver – Please Hire Me!

GoldenTicketIn case you were wondering what happened to the Ferret over the last seven weeks, I’ve been pre-occupied with trying to find a job. Let me tell you something – it’s no picnic, either. The employment scene is tough. I’ve been focusing my attention on revising the resume’, crafting cover letters, getting advice, and trying to find ways of paying the rent and utilities just to keep going. In the last three months, I applied for 77 positions, received three interviews, but no job offers. So many of today’s available positions are all about analysts, technicians, and managers. Lots of opportunities for linear thinking, left brain hemisphere types. But that’s not me. I’m a left-hand dominant, right hemisphere type. I’m a creative round peg that won’t fit in the analytical square hole. I’m from a family of artists, musicians, and writers. I love dealing with ideas and communicating information. I can imagine the big picture in detail and brainstorm like nobody’s business. When I come up with an idea, I can actually visualize and describe it. I’m a storyteller. I have a quick sense of humour. I love improvising.  I’m at a stage in life where I know my strength is in mentoring and supporting people, not managing them. I could never be a manager – I’m not about administering policy, processes, or procedures. I’m not a numbers guy, which puts me at odds with a world that increasingly evaluates individual performance by projected results. On the other hand, I’m one hell of a salesman when it comes to promoting products and services.

I have a good online presence with my LinkedIn profile and two WordPress blogs. I try to make use of my contacts to dig up new job leads. But it’s still not enough. To me, landing a meaningful full-time position is like discovering a Golden Ticket in a Willy Wonka Bar. It feels that rare. It shouldn’t be so hard to find a decent job, but it is. Not just for me, but for many, many other people. Several close friends of mine have worked in the same profession or company for years and years. I envy them because they have had the luxury of job stability and regular paycheques. Compared to them, my life has been a rollercoaster of work experiences.

I think the ways we make people look for employment needs to change. I don’t know how, but the way things are clearly isn’t productive for prospective employees, and for companies seeking productive staff. It just kills me when I read articles about companies bemoaning the fact that they can’t find skilled staff, and I’m trying to find meaningful employment. Yet, despite having a graduate degree, 23 years of experience with people and technology, 10 years of working in Japan and the United States, here I am earnestly trying to find work and coming up empty-handed.

I suppose this post is really like an ‘advertorial’ – if you do read this, and you know someone who needs a creative, experienced individual who is good with people and technology, please let them know I’m available 🙂

The Grumpy Ferret (Will work for – oh heck, I just want to work!)

Hey Ma! Look at Me! I’m a REAL Writer Now!

Calvin and Hobbesby Bill Watterson

Calvin and Hobbesby Bill Watterson

One of the enduring stereotypes about writers and writing is that it doesn’t pay. Anyone who thinks they can make a living from it is a poor deluded fool that the real world will quickly straighten out (You’re a writer? How quaint. Are you planning to get a real job?) This thought has existed for centuries – probably for millennia. Like any creative endeavour, there are a few wordsmiths who manage to find a way of making a livelihood from their writing, so they can keep a roof over their head and put food on the table. It’s not easy, but I’ve discovered that it can be done if you have the talent, the perseverance, and a bit of luck.

Let me emphasize that last pointa bit of luck!

I first showed a talent for writing when I was very young. When I was seven years old, I wrote a story about tornadoes for the school newspaper. The grownups who read it expressed their surprise at how well written it was. At nine, I was creating editions of a home newspaper that featured stories about the groundhogs in the backyard. When I was ten, I wrote protest poems about the Vietnam War that astonished my teachers, especially because I inserted a few choice swear words! In Grade 8, my English teacher thought my science fiction story about a journey through deep space was remarkable. In high school, my first ‘literary mentor’ was a welshman named Terence Davies. He recognized my writing skills and put me in his advanced literature classes. Later on, at the University of Victoria, my talents were encouraged by the late Dr. Gordon Elliot (SFU) and Dr. Colin Partridge (Uvic). I used my creative writing skills extensively during my 15 year career as a professional videogame designer. I wrote original stories, game concepts, mythology, and character dialogue. I also wrote game manuals and marketing materials. But I never took the time to publish any original content of my own. In the last five years, I wrote several opinion pieces that were published in the Vancouver Sun newspaper and University Affairs magazine. I contributed a chapter to a university textbook about games and learning published by IGI Global.

At the start of this year, I decided it was time to get serious about making a career of writing. I’d put it off for far too long . I wanted to find a paid position as a writer. Better late than never. I knew full well that it wasn’t going to be easy, but I recognized that I have this talent and I wanted to make a living from it. One month ago, late on a Sunday afternoon, I saw a position posted online for a copywriting position. I applied for it immediately. The next morning, the manager of the Product Content department called me. I was invited to an interview later that week on Thursday afternoon. One week later, they told me I was hired. I’m now working at the head office of Best Buy/Future Shop Canada as a member of their Product Content writing team. It’s incredibly satisfying work that challenges my creativity, marketing, and writing skills. It has the feel of working for a large newspaper, which I find energizing. It’s very deadline driven, which really makes you focus on writing effectively. The environment is great, the people are friendly, and I’ve been complimented on the quality of my writing.

Now, when someone asks me what I do for living, I can tell them I’m a writer. And it’s my real job, too!

The Grumpy Ferret (That’s MR. WRITER to you, pal!)