Ever since I wrote that writers write and starting writing again, everything has been going write! Err…right. (Even I’m confused by that sentence). But it’s true! My luck definitely seems to be changing.
About a month ago, I got an e-mail from my former employer. It was simple and intriguing.
Hey, Mark – we have some writing we’d like for you to do. Are you available?
One of my favorite movies is Swingers. Not only did it introduce some hip new slang like “money” (e.g. Baby, you are so money and you don’t even know it), but it’s just plain hilarious and holds up to repeated viewings. There’s a scene in the film where the characters are discussing how long a guy should wait to call a girl he is interested in after receiving her number.
Mike: So how long do I wait to call? Trent: A day. Mike: Tomorrow. Sue: Tomorrow, then a day. Trent: Yeah. Mike: So two days? Trent: Yeah, I guess you could call it that, two days. Sue: Definitely, two days is like industry standard. Trent: You know I used to wait two days to call anybody, but now it’s like everyone in town waits two days. So I think three days is kind of money. What do you think? Sue: Yeah, but two’s enough not to look anxious. Trent: But I think three days is kind of money. You know because you… Mike: Yeah, but you know what, maybe I’ll wait 3 weeks. How’s that? And tell her I was cleaning out my wallet and I just happened to run into her number. Charles: Then ask her where you met her. Mike: Well how long are you guys gonna wait to call your babies? Trent, Sue: Six days.
You don’t want to appear too anxious, buddy. That’s not money. Nonchalance is key. Wait a little while. Make it look like you’re engrossed in so many other writing projects you didn’t notice the e-mail until, whoops, just this second and had to force yourself to pull away from your work for a minute to respond.
The only problem with that scenario is, Vince Vaughn’s a dork in that movie and I’m impatient. So after holding out for a whopping two hours, I replied to the e-mail. Tried to strike a casual tone and responded in the affirmative. A day went by without a response, and then two. Wait a second…were they playing Swingers games with me, I wondered?! Not cool, man. So after another few days without feedback, I took the next step and called them up. I got a voicemail and proceeded to leave a message. And that is when I had another Swingers moment.
There’s a key scene where Mike finally calls the girl, leaves a message on her answering machine, gets cut off, calls back to repeat the information, gets cut off again, calls back again, and again, and again, leaving an increasingly desperate series of messages and ends up sounding like a fool.
Well, somehow in the course of my phone call I thought I heard my contact pick up, so I cut myself off midstream and started talking to him…only it turned out to be a poor connection and I was hearing my own voice echoing over the line, so then I had to hang up and call back and blame some fake “phone trouble” and ended up sounding like a fool.
God, I hate it when life imitates art.
I still didn’t hear anything back from the company, so I figured the project had fallen through or I’d embarrassed myself right out of contention. Either way, I shrugged my shoulders and moved on. Then I wrote that post about writing, and the next day they contacted me. Tell me, is that just a coincidence?!
OK, I’m sure it is. But still…it’s a happy one.
So, we set up a meeting yesterday. I got myself all spiffy-looking (translation: slacks instead of sweats, button-up shirt rather than a rock ‘n roll tee). I even wore socks that weren’t white and slipped on a pair of dress shoes! For me, this is huge – I practically invented the word casual. One of the freelancing books I read said to treat each appointment almost like a job interview, even if you know the client; projecting a professional image will instill in them a confidence that you take yourself seriously as a writer and will deliver quality work. I arrived promptly, strolled through the lobby door dressed to the nines with portfolio in hand…and pranked the hell out of the receptionist, who is new and therefore does not know me from Adam.
“Ron Johnson, Washington state health inspector,” I said, flipping open my wallet to make it look like I was flashing a badge at her. “I’m here to check out the coffee machine. Got a report of an e. coli breakout last week that sickened a bunch of your employees.”
“Oh, wow,” she said, looking uncomfortable as she tried to figure out
whether she was going to die who to call. “I guess this happens a lot in your line of work?”
“All the time,” I answered with a straight face.
At that point another gentleman sitting in the lobby said “I guess I won’t ask for a cup of coffee, then” and I had to let everybody off the hook.
I know, I know. So much for professionalism. In my defense, April Fool’s Day came and went this year and I failed to pull a prank then, so I was itching to make up for lost opportunities.
Anyway, the meeting went well. Very well. I walked away from it with not one, but two projects. The first involves providing copy for a 12-page corporate brochure, exactly the type of work that I’ve been looking for and that will make a great addition to my portfolio. The second is a batch of industry-specific articles – we’re talking 50-75 of them. Brief, two- or three-paragraph informational pieces. The nice thing is, that project will keep me busy for awhile and provide me with some steady work. And they hinted at more things to come in the future. Score!
I guess having a positive attitude even while my position was being eliminated out from under me paid off. I never burned any bridges or badmouthed anybody at the company. Never took the decision personally, either. And now, almost six months later, they are setting me up as a vendor and sending contract work my way.
That is so money, baby.