I was recently up for a staff writer job. It was on a basic cable show done outside the Hollywood system (and on the east coast). The show’s about an extreme sports topic that’s way outside my area of expertise and comfort zone. But they liked my writing and gave me the opportunity to fly out and interview. I spent months boning up on the subject, watching their programming, familiarizing myself with extreme sports superstars. I did a writing sample, which the producers loved. It was a long process that involved a lot of preparation and work on my part. I told my girlfriend about it. My friends. My family. Everyone seemed legitimately excited for me. I eventually flew out and interviewed with the head writers. And aced it. A week later, I was jazzed to get a message on my voicemail from the producer telling me to call him as soon as possible. I did. They were passing on me. He told me they liked me, but I wasn’t familiar enough with their “product” (David Foster Wallace-ian aside – it’s probably not a good sign creatively when producers refer to their creative output as “product”). Oh, and next time I interview for a staff job, I should probably dress a little more formally.
I know these guys don’t work in Hollywood, but they know dick about a writer’s attire. By wearing a sweater instead of my stained, “I love blowjobs” T-shirt, I was dressing up. Even worse than the disappointment from not getting the job and wasting months of my time (which could have been more productively spent revamping my spec script or advancing my character in FALLOUT 3), was talking to everyone I made the mistake of telling about the opportunity. After six voicemails from my parents and two from my brother, I finally shut off my cell phone. When my girlfriend asked if I got the gig and would be moving away, I just told her yes. I think she’s starting to figure it out though, because it’s been a month and I keep buying new groceries.
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