It’s Monday. This day is associated with a variety of negative connotations, but for today in particular, even Hitchcock couldn’t come up with a day quite like this one.
I’d like to state for the record that I could not survive without email and I’ve maintained a GMail account for the past six or seven years and archive just about everything I’ve ever drafted, sent and received, even the stuff I’m “supposed to” legally destroy. (I have a common name –> common email handle –> commonly receive emails not intended for me, though most are from the same ten people who can’t get it through their skulls that no, they’re not reaching the person they’re looking for, and no, I’m not interested in the inane forward you’ve just sent me that displays your chronic inability to think for yourself.)
Today’s adventure in reaching the wrong person via email (though, as you’ll see, I’m not convinced I was an unintended recipient) came from an email address I’ve never seen before and from an otherwise anonymous source: no name, no true identifying information, though the headers and IP address indicate Dallas, Texas. Came straight through to my Inbox, never triggered the Spam filter. No text in the email, just an embedded YouTube video. After an eye-blink debate, I clicked the link, not thinking of potential consequences of clicking on things in weird, unrecognized emails. Something about it just didn’t ring warning bells – just curiosity.
Here’s what I received:
I have to say: it’s catchy. And I’m a Cee-Lo fan. And there’s no missing the point in it. But the question remains – was I the intended recipient on this one and if so, I gotta admit it’s a great way to get me into a Russian countryside full of ancient yet deadly landmines. So, to you dear reader: respond or not?
The second email is related to the job search. I’ve been in an email blizzard due to recruiters who “came across your resume” and “believe you’d be a great fit for” their organization. I understand that for the access and ability to put myself out there, I gotta give up some modicum of privacy in order to find what I’m looking for (much like the first few dates with a new person). But…first, if you can’t seem to proofread your emails recruiting me, it’s probably not gonna work out. Second, I’m a writer with marketing experience and a JD degree – how does that qualify me to give financial advice or sell cars? Not to be snotty, but not only would those occupations cause me to put forks in my eyes, you probably wouldn’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t pay me enough to compel me not to find the nearest spork and threaten to do so. (Must stop with this imagery, I’m grossing myself out. Moving on…)
But, as I mentioned before, today was odd. I got a response back for a freelance writing gig. I was driving at the time, just saw there was a new email in the chain. Now, my email to them, sent yesterday, was duller than the knives in my kitchen – basically the quick, simple “here’s the position you’ve advertised, I’m uniquely qualified – just look at my resume, let’s talk why not how’s this week for you.” No showcasing or showboating, just a ‘please don’t reject me but if you do, it’s okay ’cause I didn’t too much effort on this even though I should and do actually think we’d both get some great work from this’ email. Needless to say, I was pleased just to see something back.
And when I arrived at my destination (thanks, GPS navigation!), and opened this email response, the spring breeze of pleased approached the nuclear blast of shocked.
The response (identifying information redacted; green color added for effect):
I’m going to be honest in a way that is rarely expected when considering someone for a job position (in the sense that tact and professionalism typically impose stipulations to the contrary); your writing is absolutely enthralling. I checked out your blog to get a feel for your writing style and I was blown away. I want to say that you have a way with words but it is certainly more than that. It is painfully evident in your writing that you possess a degree of sincerity and the ability to think and feel in a way that I think most people try to avoid for simplicity sake. When I read your post about your former co workers failing to invite you for lunch or your separation from your boyfriend I felt true empathy for you. That’s no small feat considering that I usually find the typical self-reflective blog post to be disingenuous, pseudo-poetic and trite. Basically what I am getting at is that if your goal was to spill your guts about your personal life so that you could impress a semi-elitist jerk who has no discernable creative writing abilities or technical skills of his own yet he still likes to criticize the work of others, well, then mission accomplished.
In all seriousness, I am very impressed with your writing but it may be too good. What we are looking for is someone that can generate rather banal and repetitive content. Certainly the content is informative and helpful to our clients but it is by no means fun or edgy. The ideal candidate can take what has already been written and regurgitate it in such a way that it stands apart as unique but still delivers the same feel and message. Where I’m ultimately going with this is that if you are interested then I’d like the opportunity to discuss the possibility further. However, I suspect that this is something that you ultimately would not find to be very engaging and there are a ton of other potential writers who write just good enough to achieve what we’re after. On the other hand, maybe you can wear many hats and writing this stuff is second nature to you. Just let me know what your thoughts are. Keep up the good work. The internet needs more writers who actually have something to say.
Here’s hoping you’ve got a good sense of humor…
Come on, say it with me: holy. f#$&*#@. shit.
I don’t get a whole lotta feedback on my writing – I instead get feedback on the fact I’m a writer. Exchanges typically go like this:
Stranger #1, at some break in conversation: “So, whatd’ya do?”
Me: “I’m a writer.”
Stranger #1: “No shit? That’s cool. What’dya write?”
Me: “Mostly fiction…published a book of short stories back in January, working on a novel and a screenplay at this point, though it’s taking a little longer than originally expected…” (I’ve stopped telling folks that I keep a blog or website UNLESS specifically asked or I think it will lead to some type of commissioned work – the advent of web browsers on smartphones usually leads to instant mortification when my blog is read aloud, with alcoholic intonation, at the bar.)
Stranger #1: “Awesome, where can I get your book? What’s your name again?”
Me: “Really, anywhere – Barnes and Noble, Amazon – here’s my card.”
Stranger #1, who hasn’t read a book in, oh, five years, and shops at B&N or Borders for the latest Maxim: “Sweet – I’ll definitely order it!” Then, to Strangers #2-5: “Hey, this chick is a writer! We’re all gonna be in a book…”
(end of interaction, typically. a dirty little secret though: I know they don’t order or purchase the book. and it’s not just suspicion or playing the odds that a late twenty-something male doesn’t read. I get all sorts of demographic info from the publisher and from retailers. I’m kinda big in Japan.)
But to get feedback on my writing – even if just from this very source – is exhilarating. Maybe you missed it though: SOMEONE OUT THERE THINKS I’M GREAT! I mean, there’s only so long one can listen to her mother (“I think you’re a good writer, you just need to find the right material…now go be a lawyer and don’t bring shame on the family.”) or to friends (“Sure, you can write, but why do that when you can help me with my dreams instead?”) or to critics (“writing is dead.”). And if we extrapolate this email, for each person who comments and tells me I’m great, there are 25 others thinking the same thing. Twenty-six people! We’ve just made my millennium – and renewed the spunky vigor to get back to the Molly project and finish before the close of the year.