Thursday, April 30, 2009

Favors ...

Every morning, within a few minutes of waking, my computer is humming. I shut it down every night and boot it up every morning. I could turn off the power strip underneath my desk, but I don't. But I should. Because now I feel guilty.

Anyway, checking my e-mail – and yes, Facebook – is part of my morning routine. And yesterday, I received an e-mail from a friend with the subject line "big favor, a really big favor ...". Assuming he wasn't offering to do a really big favor for me, I opened it and read it, noting the 2.1 MB file attached.

He's launching a new business and was asking me to edit the executive summary of his business plan.

"A new business?", you're asking yourself. "In this economy?"

Yup. Because he has a very good idea and he is incredibly smart and self-assured and if anyone will make a success of things, it's him.

And so, once I returned from my walk and downed several cups of coffee, I dove in.

And it felt really good to use my brain again.

Some of you may not know that I'm unemployed at the moment.

Not surprising, as the unemployment rate in this country is the highest it's been in decades.

But unemployment has psychic side-effects, one of which one being stealth doubt. Many tell me, "Wow, your resumé is impressive!" but when applications don't convert into interviews, I can't help but question myself.

The good thing about my resumé is that it's a handy two-page reminder of all I've accomplished, and I do indeed have a lot of which to be proud.

The bad thing about my resumé – so far, at least – is that potential employers must be looking at it and thinking either, "We can't afford her" or "She'll get bored with this job and leave."

Now, it's true that I don't work for nothing, but my price tag isn't as high as my resumé leads people to believe. And yes, I might get bored with a job, but that will be because the job is boring.

And then there's this: It is not a good time to be a word person. Newspapers are slashing staffs if not outright shuttering operations. Editorial positions are often trimmed out of business units. So some days, it's hard not to question the value I provide.

But then along comes a day like yesterday, when I was able to fire up my brain and meld my business-writing and IT knowledge with my inner feature writer and massage a couple of pages of prose that wasn't quite hanging together into something that will entice a reader and hopefully help land the funding my friend seeks.

(Hey, it's only a few million. Bill Gates probably has that between the cushions of his couch.)

And later, I went out to lunch with my mom, and saw the word "sandwitches" (and a lot of other typos) on the bill of fare and realized that there will always be a need for word people after all. Even if I have to build a business around editing menus.

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