My New Gambit December 6, 2011Posted by Mark Folse in literature, New Orleans, The Narrative, Toulouse Street, Writing.
My first paying piece of journalism in over 25 years made the print copy of Gambit, page 13. Damn, it feels good to see my byline in print again. I have already sent one query letter to a magazine, and have another I am drafting this morning.
And so we begin again. The bank I called Moloch these last six years was my third or fourth or firth career depending on how you count. I have been over the last 30 years: journalist, political PR flack and speechwriter, pre-press manager, IT fix-it guy, project manager. These jumps have occurred in a cycle of about seven years, so after almost 11 years I was long overdue. On the other hand, I began writing seriously about six years ago, was noticed by other writers, made connections. That would be my latest career, right on time.
Every jump has been difficult. It usually means a pay cut, long hours of study and hard work. When I ran a pre-press shop for a newspaper and commercial experience, with no better experience than some limited history with page layout software and a prior career in news papering, I came up with a rule. The time estimate for every type of work I had to re-learn or teach myself from scratch was 50% of how long it took me to manage the first one. There were hours when I labored in that shop past midnight, and was back at my station by six a.m., rolling my caster chair from one Macintosh computer to another and over to check the RIP, standing over the light table with a loup registering four-color work. I devoured every O’Rielly book I needed, as my actual title as IT Manager so in addition to the shop I baby-sat all of the computers. I turned an intended loss leader into a profit center and doubled my salary in three years.
I am older now, and it will be harder. The aging brain is harder to retrain, but if you have any natural talent (as I found I had for computers), it is that much more feasible. My obligations are greater, with one in college and another on the way, and there is that inevitable pay cut that comes with a career change, but I have always managed to turn that around in a matter of a few years. Now I just need to find a way to make it pay. I have bought a year’s subscription to Writers Market, read sample cover letters, reached out to other writers who have been fans of the blogs. Motivation is simple. I am on the only road worth traveling. The corporate cubicle was the road of Willie Loman, and we all know how well that turned out.