Pipe Bomb

(I had a really bad day yesterday so if you’re expecting my usual cheerful banter, then you’re going to be disappointed. Those of you who recognize the reference in the title, and the image of the gentlemen below, will have some idea of the tone of the blog post. Here’s what he had to say. My words are below. Skip them if you want to.)

I have this thing that happens in my career. It happens again and again and again. I show up. I work hard. I am praised for my hard work. My hard work is so good in keeping with editorial policy that it rarely requires any changes. Most of the time this hard work is done for free. Eventually, positions to do that hard work for pay are created. I apply for these positions.

I am not hired.

This has happened twice in the space of three months. The first was for a publicity manager position. A position so many people told me I’d be a good fit for (including multiple employees of the company) that I got over my fear of actually emotionally investing in a job and applied.

I did not even make the interview list. When I asked for feedback, I was told my work was not considered visible enough.

Not visible enough?

-I’ve hosted a Parsec-award winning podcast for the last five years. It has the largest short horror fiction audience on the planet.

-I’ve been a frequent guest on, and now co-host, an award-winning science fiction podcast with, again, the largest audience for its genre. This one is also Parsec award-winning.

-I’ve blogged for one of the largest genre fiction magazines in Europe for the last four years.

-I’ve also blogged, for free, constantly throughout the last 2-3 years for a comic and film website that gets over a million hits a month.

And I’m not visible enough.

I asked what I could do to change my “lack of visibility”. They recommended I check out these two markets. One is a website that I have been trying to get on for longer than I’ve been working for every other market up there aside from the horror podcast. One is a website that was happy to take my work but wouldn’t pay.

So I’m not visible enough to employ, and in order to become more visible I have to not only do the impossible I also have to do it for free.

Hold that thought.

Then there was the second.  I’ve been trying to get paid work for a magazine offshoot of another major market for over a year. One of their section editors likes my work. We get along great, he’s grateful to me for the free work I’ve done there and thinks I’d be a good fit for a staff writer position. I am able to turn my hand to anything when it comes to this sort of journalism. That’s not arrogance, it’s fact. I have done this for so long and in so many different ways that you give me a word count, a format and a point and I’ll hit all three every. single. time. So great, I’m a really good fit for a staff writer and this organization’s been looking for one and…

I was told today it had gone to someone else.

I was also told that if this person who is not me worked out ‘They’d hire more people.’ Which on the one hand is great, and on the other is saying ‘Thanks for all the hard work but we like him better.’

Within an hour of this, I was also told that a series of projects I’ve been trying to get off the ground with still another organization for over a year now would be superseded by something which had been decided on two months ago. No discussion, no option to debate, just a flat out ‘No, this thing is more important than all of your things.’ Once again, ‘Thanks for all the hard but we like this project better.’

Noticing a pattern? Because believe me I am.

Let me go further:

-There’s still another group I work for who have yet to pay me for work submitted five years ago.

-There’s another still that has taken multiple colleagues of mine, all with less time logged than me, onto more regular work. When I asked what I could do to help this happen for me? “Be in the right place at the right time.” So more writing for free with a vague promise of payment at some point in the future? The good news is it’s not that cold in the outer office, Bob Cratchit’s excellent company and knows LOTS of dirty jokes.

So that’s why I find myself at 1 in the pissing morning, faced with the realization that I am always here. Make no mistake, the paid work I do I’m extremely happy with and a lot of the voluntary work too. But, again and again AND AGAIN AND AGAIN I find myself looking at people who seem to have done less work over less time go further.

Good enough to have content from? Hell yes, as much as I can crank out. Good enough to pay? “Not visible enough to employ and in order to become more visible I have to do the impossible and do it for free.”

That’s the mission statement for my career. The unwanted mission statement that’s starting to feel like it’s going to be carved into my tombstone.

I’m not perfect. I’m not saying I am. I am saying that it makes me want to scream when the amount of work I put in is never balanced with the amount of recognition it receives. Not praise, not fame, recognition. Acknowledgement of its existence. The words ‘maybe next time’ and ‘not quite’ make me want to rend things asunder.

So that was my Tuesday, where my career conspired to cut me off at the knees yet again. A delivery pizza and a few hours of the Attitude Era set me right. I hate it. I’m doing all the things you do in these circumstances – asking for feedback, trying to improve, not burning bridges.

I hate it all, but right now it doesn’t feel like it’ll ever change.


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