Cover Letter Writing

Mark was a content-creation machine. Just look at all the fucking stuff he’s posted on the feeds since 2006!! He puts most of us who call ourselves creatives (and writers) to shame.

I wrote about our last in-person visit with him. The week following that visit, we had this exchange via email about blogging and a post about creepy clowns that he liked.

I’m glad you are enjoying the Jeff Buckley book.

I liked your blogpost today. Have you ever thought of returning to the blog daily? I know you have a lot going on, but I really like what you wrote today. Especially the paragraph linking the governor to a creepy clown. I think sometimes you put pressure on yourself to create these fully formed blogposts of a certain length. If you were to do a daily blog again I think maybe you should abandon the notion of word count and focus on observing/saying one thing once a day. When you feel inspired to go long then definitely still go long. Maybe keep the same schedule of Tuesday and Friday to go long, but fill the other days with smaller things. Anyway, it’s just a thought.

 I hope the repairs are going well. 

Oh and here’s a neat tweak on cooking sweet potatoes that looks good

I’m not committing to any kind of schedule for blogging or anything else for that matter (at least remaining somewhat in charge, as is humanly possible in money-driven America), but I think I can blog more often, even if it’s following Mark’s prescription to riff on something observed or some other element of living.

Today, in addition to blogging, I’m intent on finishing a lengthy package for a freelance writing gig that matches much of what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years. No matter what kind of skills you have, however, there’s no guarantee you’ll get noticed.

I was thinking about that along with something that a Brown MFA colleague of Mark’s, Darren Angle, shared via Quora. Darren who I’d describe as a life coach for people who think life coaching is a crock of shit, uses this tagline describing what he does—I help people quit their jobs (and do work they love). Sign me up!!

Darren offered the most unique response to the Quora question, “What is important to include on [sic] a cover letter? Please read it now—do not pass Go until you do!

It was Darren’s reality-based advice that made me decide to change my own approach to cover letter writing. Why the hell not? What do I have to lose at this point—grief and loss, if anything is freeing and it helps you to feel like Teflon.

I’ve included my “new” cover letter that I plan to continue using. Key details like employer name and contact person have been redacted. My approach is the “getting real” method. Your own cover letter may likely contain something slightly different.

While preparing to post this, I was also reminded of Mark’s calls to agents. Oh Mark, you were a one-of-a-kind soul and I miss you each and every day (and all the moments in-between).

A real, live draft of my cover letter, with edits.

Continue reading

Party Talk

I’m going to a party tonight. The only reason I got invited is because of Miss Mary. I don’t get asked out much at all these days. More often than not, I’m just “Mary’s husband,” or possibly “Mr. B.” I’m okay with that.

With old acquaintances disappeared, I realize it’s probably as good a time as any to add some new names to my black book of contacts. Yeah, let’s make that a goal for the fall and winter—meeting some new people.

Meeting new people inevitably means getting the “what do you do?” treatment. It’s that age-old question all Americans have been socialized to ask. Work and job type still serve as a kind of societal litmus test. Or maybe, it’s just that way with people over a certain age. Do millennials care about anything other than their smartphones and Tinder-type apps? Oh, right—Tinder is so yesterday with these whiz kids and hooking up. Continue reading

Chasing Stories

My last article for the Portland Phoenix looked at the governor’s firing of MTI’s Bob Martin. Apparently the Portland Press Herald is doing some follow-up on the firing and what might be behind it. Of course, this type of “fact-checking” reminds me of the recent post by journalism professor and press critic, Jay Rosen, what he referred to as “he said, she said” journalism. I hope there’s more to come on this from Whit Richardson.

I was able to locate the smoke, but as a freelancer, I don’t have the resources and time due to the need to chase a new story and another deadline, to find the fire. I wish I could dig deeper, as this governor’s inability to tolerate other viewpoints is quite obvious to me. I’m also pretty sure that most of what the governor is saying about MTI and what’s behind the firing is BS.

Today, I’m  off in pursuit of two deadlines for two different editors, plus working on other feature articles highlighting nonprofits. One of my stories is about economic development, the city of Portland, and why traditional ED models no longer work. Don’t tell that to Paul LePage, or his economic lackeys, all economic development dinosaurs. Continue reading

Priming the Pump

[Note: Various reports and articles indicate that by 2020, as much as 50 percent of the U.S. workforce will be comprised of freelance workers. I’m already there.–jb]

I’ve been at this free agent game long enough that I should know the routine this time of year. It’s prospecting time. Almost all of my activities are devoted to getting new things into the JBE pipeline. Continue reading

One More Bump in the Road

First I fall off my bike and puncture my lung. Next, I’m being told “thanks, but no thanks,” in heading up an important workforce initiative.

I’ve been involved with the Maine Business Leadership Network for a year now. I was hired last August to serve as the first director of Maine’s only affiliate of the USBLN. I found out yesterday that the Maine State Chamber of Commerce isn’t “renewing my contract.” There are a number of things I could say; I’m certainly feeling a confluence of emotions, and having a variety of thoughts, some better not articulated at the moment. Apparently this is normal when you get kicked to the curb. I will say that I don’t feel like a year was a long enough period of time to prove the efficacy of what I was trying to do in leading the organization.  I’m sure some might disagree. Continue reading

Communication Breakdown

School boy from the 1970sI’m glad that I went to school when I did. My public school teachers may have been part of a nefarious plot to turn me into a minor cog in some impersonal corporate machine. Or they might have just been putting in their time until retirement, weathering each successive storm of boomer births. Something along the way foiled their intent, however. Continue reading

Roll with it

The world we live in, or better, the world of work that we inhabit has shifted. The shift is a seismic one, but not everyone’s been affected by it, yet. For those of us that have embraced this “new way,” we’re a step ahead and building our portfolio with each subsequent day spent scrambling and with each new project completed. Continue reading

Back in the saddle

Being out of work felt like employment purgatory, some kind of in-between state betwixt work and permanent slackerdom. Fortunately for me, this state was short-lived and I’m happy to report that as of yesterday, I’m back in the fold of gainful employment. Actually, I’m on a roll, as it looks like I’ll be working not one, not two, but probably three jobs, or at least managing three disparate income streams. Continue reading