Monday, October 4, 2010


I've been sending my stuff out for a while. Short stories, photos. Back in the day, as they say, I'd send out headshots and resumes. It's part of the gig.

But, back in the day, my stuff went into the mailbox on Monday and by Wednesday I'd be huddled by the phone waiting for the offers to come in. By the following Monday I'd be contemplating an MBA and wondering if I wouldn't be better off moving back to Des Moines. Sometimes silence is more brutal than rejection. At least with a rejection, there's an acknowledgement.

It's like auditioning. You can spend weeks putting together a repertoire of audition pieces, honing them down to ninety seconds and developing a matrix of combinations so that no matter what the audition situation you're prepared, and then spend months wondering why you're not being called back.

Then I went into human resources and spent weeks sifting through resumes and realized, more often than not, nine times out of ten, silence has nothing to do with the resume and everything to do with the target. If the target is very specific, the resume has to be too. If the target is very specific, then the headshot has to be as well. If the target is very specific, then the script/short story/novel must be as well.

Generalities will get you sent to the 'no' pile. But if your resume/headshot/script/short story/novel doesn't hit the target, it's not because it's not good. It's not because it's not specific. It just simply does not hit the mark. They wanted steak and you're offering sushi. Next.

It took a long time to figure this out, but when I was an actor my job wasn't to be a star. My job wasn't even to work in a small, non-Equity storefront production of Hamlet to be seen by six people. My job was to audition. That was the work. And over the years I found enjoyment and satisfaction in simply auditioning. The preparation and the two minutes I had in front of casting staff was the sum total of the work. And I learned to love it.

I'd like to tell you that once I released all expectations of the audition I was cast more frequently. I wasn't. But I was less frustrated. I enjoyed being an actor more.

Now that I'm submitting my writing, it's the same thing. The job is the creation. The job is keeping organized and sending my stuff out. That is the work. The rest is whipped cream on the sundae. And pay is the cherry on top.

Of course, I can't deny that the goal was, is, and always will be not getting the cherry on top of the sundae, but landing in the bowl where that cherry came from. But that's a whole other post.