When it all works out

Recently I have been editing one of my short stories for an upcoming Ambage anthology*. And frankly, I haven’t been enjoying it that much. The story is seriously flawed in a number of areas and it has taken a good deal of thinking and fiddling on my part to sort them all out (and even then, I am under the distinct impression that I am missing something important).

When I find myself working on stories like this one, it is intensely frustrating. I change a word, perhaps rephrase an awkward sentence, but I know that none of that helps in any but the most superficial of ways. I rewrite whole scenes, sometimes even the entire story, and it still doesn’t feel right. It’s frustrating enough that I just want to print it out and let my dog tear it to shreds.

Of course, I know better than to do that. I’ve written frustrating stories before and I know that tossing them out is rarely necessary. All they need is time and patience on my part. As long as I stick to it, I know that sooner or later, I will reach that moment when everything makes sense, that moment when I finally understand just what this story is really about.

I don’t have a name for such moments, mostly because it hasn’t been necessary to name them. Yet these moments of clarity are an important aspect of my own writing style. They’re a bit like a flash of lightning on a dark night. Though they last only a moment, it is long enough for me to know exactly what I need to do next.

I am happy to say that I have reached such a moment yesterday morning while working on this short story. There are still problems to fix, of course, but it will be a lot easier and more fun now, I think, because I know what I need to do.

This is what I love about writing. When a frustrating story finally works out like this, it makes the entire thing worth it.

*I will be talking more about this anthology later, probably sometime next month. Stay tuned until then.


My UPS Job Interview Misadventure

Back in December of last year, I applied for a job at UPS. It was a part-time job, but the description said that if I worked well enough, it could turn into full-time employment. I was mostly looking to make some extra money, but if I got a full-time job out of it, well, that would be pretty nice, too.

A few days later, I received a call from UPS asking if I wanted the job. I of course said yes and they gave me a time and place for a job interview. As this would be my first job interview ever, I was especially careful to find the exact directions I needed in order to get there. I used Google Maps to find the location of the UPS facility and wrote them down.

Of course, life is never that simple for me, as I have written about before. When I set out for the interview — it was at twelve noon, so I had to leave my place by about eleven to get there, although I made sure to leave half an hour early in case I got lost — I made sure to follow the directions I had written down as best as I could. With extra time and written directions, what could possibly go wrong?

I ended up getting lost. It seemed like I drove around the entire town, searching for the UPS facility. I even stopped and asked for directions a couple of times, but somehow those didn’t help one bit. It was like getting stuck in a hard video game; you know what you have to do, but somehow thought fails to translate into action.

Right now, you’re probably thinking, “Geez, that’s pretty bad, but he had to find the place eventually, right?”

You’re absolutely right. I did find the UPS facility where I was supposed to be interviewed. I was quite late, of course, probably by about an hour or so, but at least I found it. Then I walked inside, apologized profusely to the job interviewer, swore never to be this late again, got the job, and went home with sunshine and rainbows dancing on my car hood.

Of course not. In reality, I didn’t know that was where I needed to be. The front door was locked, so I assumed it was the wrong place. It was only after I got home and called UPS to reschedule the interview that I learned that I had indeed found the right place, but you were supposed to go in through the back, which is why the front door was locked. How I was supposed to know that before, I didn’t know.

All I know is that it still rankles me even now, nearly a year later, whenever I think about it. I don’t obsess over it, but I imagine I’ll always remember this event, as it’s probably the biggest epic fail I have ever done in my life so far.

Have you ever had a tough time finding the place where you were supposed to get interviewed for a job?