In the previous post we discussed how we had taught writing classes and the types of themes we liked to read if not write about. We have been writing professionally — which means we usually get paid a fee for our ability to write something that makes sense — but it was partly a fluke we got into this profession. (Another fluke is that Merriam-Webster doesn’t know where “fluke ” came from.)
In any event, as we related in the previous post we returned victorious to the east coast after completing the requirements* for a Master’s Degree in English Literature. (*Conspicuous by its absence is the modifier “rigorous.”)
Ready to teach. Ready to open those little minds to the glory of The Bard. To the eroticism of The Miller’s Tale. To the lies of the self-serving Nimrod in Hills Like White Elephants.
A Change of Plans and a Change of Voice
It was not to be. Without an earn-ed PhD, chances were slim to none. I bandied about until landing a position with a federally funded organization that operated training programs for the unemployed. It was a job with decent pay and an opportunity once in a while to co-write grant applications.
The organization offered training in a variety of programs, clerical, food prep, machine occupations. etc. Programs ran from three-month to six months. Eventually I was appointed to operate the in-house “World of Work” program which helped prepare the trainers to transition into a job. That prep included resumes, interview techniques, basic interpersonal skills and the like.
To make the one hour classes more interesting for the trainee (and for ourselves) we mixed workbooks with role-playing and audio-visual materials. We’d contact various companies and request AV materials to preview then make recommendations for purchasing those we thought had merit.
Be Careful What You Wish For
After a while, maybe a year, I was becoming more and more convinced that many of these materials had less and less merit. The story lines were weak. About the same time, I read an article in a magazine devoted to training about how to write video scripts. The author was a gentleman who owned a video production house in Los Angeles. I wrote him and asked how to get started writing video scripts. He not only answered me but sent me a pile of articles and sample scripts. I was psyched.
Furthermore, one town over from where I worked was a video production house and a fellow who was now working with me had once worked there! I asked him if he could get me an interview. Within a week I had an appointment.
As I recall, I met with three people at the production house: a producer, a salesperson and the in-house writer. I don’t recall the conversation outside of my saying that I wanted to write video scripts and the producer asking me if I “could think visual.” That was a direct question. I answered ‘Yes.”
Bear in mind, up until then I had written college papers and a couple of one act plays that had been produced by college drama groups. But I must have said something right. Within two weeks I was assigned to write a video script on career planning! And get paid when it was approved.
A First Script
Over the course of probably two weeks, I interviewed people in variety of occupations, e.g., healthcare, the computer industry, machine occupations, etc., and wrote a five-to-ten minute script with suggested visuals called “The Game Plan.”
It was sent to the client, a local Chamber of Commerce, for their review. It was returned approved with no revisions. The salesperson said he had never seen a script approved without revisions. I was pleased.
Over the next few years I wrote scripts for this house and a couple of others on topics ranging from a recruitment video for a woman’s college, training for gas turbine helicopter engines, a machine that made #10 envelopes, diesel fuel systems and more. Some had minor revisions; all were produced. It was fun.
I guess in closing, the moral is you never know unless you ask . . .