This week we start a new, weekly blog series, “Career Champion”. Sally Champion blogs about the process of setting up her own business as a writer. She had polio as a child and after years of working nine to five, she is now, having to think differently about how to earn her living. Sally invites your comment and advice.
Episode 1: “The job…or your life!”
The other night I had a dream. In the dream I was in a bank waving a gun demanding not money, but work.
In my dream I took the opportunity to sell myself and the services I offered. I established good eye contact with bank staff (that wasn’t difficult they seemed riveted by my every move) and asked to see the manager.
When she emerged tentatively from her office I started telling her about myself, taking care to accentuate my strengths.
“I’m looking for work,” I told her, “I’m a writer and I’m looking for 20 hours work a week. Working on contract would be fine.”
“I can write anything,” I said. “Organisational newsletters, human interest stories and profiles, information and promotional brochures and booklets. I can write media releases, media information packs and information for the web.
“I can also fix up other people’s writing,” I continued. “I can turn a jumbled mess into a smoothly flowing river of readability.” I looked at her intently. “I can re-order your thoughts.
“I can clad your logic with iron, smooth your syntax and establish your tone until the reader feels they are not so much reading you as absorbing your thoughts like a plant absorbs the power of the sun.”
I felt rather pleased with that last part. I paused and looked at her to gauge its effect.
“Take the money,” she said. “Take the money and leave now before things get any worse.”
I obviously hadn’t convinced her how much of an asset to the bank I would be. I waved the gun around some more.
“No, no, no,” I said. “You misunderstand me. I don’t just want the money. I want to work to earn the money. That’s the way I was bought up. You learn to do something and then you use that skill to earn money so you can live.
“It’s expensive to be alive,” I told her.
“I know,” she said looking sorry about the situation. ”We’ve had a lot of people coming in looking for work. But honestly, why don’t you do what everyone else does – apply for jobs that are advertised?”
“I have to think differently,” I told her. “With most jobs you need to work in-house but to produce at a high rate I need to work 20 hours a week and spend part of that time, probably the actual writing part, working from home.”
“Well, aren’t you the little princess,” she snapped. “We’d all like to do that.”
“No,” I said. “I’ve got no choice. I’ve worked in the usual way all my life and now, because of the effects of the polio, I need to design my working life so I can conserve my energy.
“I got polio well after the big epidemics in New Zealand,” I told her, heading off ageism at the pass. “I’ve got years of my working life left.”
The bank manager looked at me. “Do you want some advice?” she asked.
“You obviously need to refine the way you approach prospective employers. I know marketing yourself is difficult,” she continued, “but for goodness sake, if you want any chance of success…”
She paused and looked at me intently. I held my breath. I knew she was going to say something that would change my fortune.
“Lose the gun.”
Readers are invited to help Sally refine her marketing skills by talking about their own more successful experiences, or by pointing her in the direction of information that could be helpful.