Tuesday, March 04, 2008

After Completion

You could say I've been busy. For the first time in nearly nine years, I will no longer draw a paycheck as a professional technical writer/editor. Starting tomorrow I'll spend the daylight hours with a new title: Marketing Manager, Special Projects. Or, as I like to call it, marketing special ops.

It’s a strange feeling knowing that I’ll no longer be a software “documentalist,” as we in the department jokingly referred to ourselves. We so crazy! What’s really crazy is that I got this new position through screenwriting.

There was a time when I thought I needed to keep these two sides completely separate, and apart from a few friendly coworkers who knew of my other pursuits, my quest, my Agenda (as Vitaly deemed it), screenwriting was not something I discussed in the office. Certainly not in any official capacity. In fact, silence was my policy, as it had been since my initial interview, when it seemed to me, true or not, that any extracurricular activities would be frowned upon. And if I spent my vacation time on trips to Los Angeles, Austin, Scandinavia, or New Zealand, well, then, that was just because I liked seeing the world.

A writer’s life is often a double life. Remember how in Dungeons & Dragons, non-human characters could have multiple character classes, so you could be a high elven fighter/magic-user or a half-orc cleric/thief? Sure, you get to do more cool stuff, but you end up dividing your experience points across both pursuits. Takes you twice as long to get anywhere. As a writer/whatever, that’s how you end up feeling a lot of the time: non-human.

I began my exploration into other daytime options last fall. I met with several members of upper management, including the COO. He led off with this one: “What do you want to do when you grow up?”

“Screenwriting,” I answered without missing a beat. In that fraction of a second between question and answer I made a decision to be completely honest, whatever the consequences. In that moment I instantly violated my policy, and I suddenly felt exposed at the highest possible level. But the COO laughed and made some joke about not having any openings in that area. And my revelation suddenly cast me as something unusual and valuable: creative.

I found this richly and comically ironic: that the simple act of announcing my intentions would open doors faster than I had thought possible, that my secret labors had prepared and positioned me to fulfill the percolating plans of the new marketing VP.

At times it has been hard not to resent a job that seemed nothing more than an obstacle to surmount before my real life started each day, an unwelcome interruption to the burning fever. It took me a long time to understand that you still have to live while you’re on the way to greater things. A long time to see that even—or especially—at my daily work I could find the integration I’d been seeking everywhere else in my life.

Don’t get me wrong, the Agenda is alive and well. And so am I, maybe even a little more than before.

Painting by David Michael Beck. © 2001 Devil's Due Publishing.

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Anonymous Eric said...

Congratulations, R!

You so crazy.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Thomas Crymes said...


36th level Human/9th Level Screenwriter/1st Level Marketing Manager.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Brett said...

Did I not lecture you about the importance of admitting your damned dream? Of fessing up to the fantasy of becoming a screenwriter? That until you do your denial will be projected onto others and they will then be unable to see you as anything other than what YOU are willing to display? That admitting you have a problem is the first step to profiting from that problem?






Did I seriously not give you that lecture?

Damn. Meant to.


11:41 PM  
Blogger Ryan Rasmussen said...

Thanks, guys!

Leonidas B: I must have missed class that day. There's no one better at giving a stern talking-to.

9:02 AM  

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