Last Monday, I attended a workshop set up by my fabulous state to kick-start my job search. Being a New Yorker, I walked in with an attitude (shocking, I know), thinking I knew everything there was to know. However, since I like to think I’m open-minded, I participated. I listened. I stayed for the next workshop on networking.
Part of the reason I stayed was the charm of the group leader. He’s part of an organization that donates these workshops on a pro-bono basis. It was more entertaining to be part of a workshop than to keep searching job-boards. It felt more business-like. It felt constructive.
He said my problem is a lack of focus. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this observation.
We went through the group and described the toughest problem we had ever solved. Here’s mine:
In 1990, when I started at DC Comics, I learned that, in November, on the same day, there was going to be a new Robin costume and Clark Kent was going to ask Lois Lane to marry him. This is a publicist’s nightmare, because it’s hard to promote more than one story at a time. The impact of each is diluted.
When I pointed this out, I was told not to worry about it. No one cared about Superman, they said. Sales of his titles were in the toilet, while Batman was a hot property. Tim Burton approved the Robin costume design. A new costume meant the issue would be a hot collectible.
I disagreed. I said that no matter how many people were currently buying the comic, the general public loves Superman. Because of the 1950s television show and the Christopher Reeve movies, the public feels like they have a relationship with the Man of Steel.
There was no money to promote the story. All the money was to be spent on Robin.
With no budget, I sent out the story as a press release to myriad news outlets. USA Today picked it up in the Lifelines column, and soon we were inundated with press. Mike Carlin made the first of what would be more than a dozen appearances on Entertainment Tonight.
As a result of my efforts, sales of the Superman comics went up. As a result of my efforts, Warner Bros. became interested enough in the characters to develop the “Lois and Clark” television series, which generated millions and millions of dollars for the company. As a result of my efforts, Terri Hatcher became a star, and today we have “Desperate Housewives.”
Oooops! Let’s step back a bit.
As a result of my efforts, Warner Bros. decided that Superman couldn’t get married in the comics until he was married on television, so DC had to kill him. The publicity generated by me with this story sold so many copies (and is still in print, still selling) that it set modern records.
I like to tell stories. I like to tell involved stories. I like conflict that reveals character development. I like to get a laugh. But what I’d really like is a job.
So, yes, I like to digress. I’m easily distracted by shiny things. I admire professional story-tellers who can use digressions to great artistic effect. It’s also a quality I seek out in my friends near and far.
In my pretentious youth, I thought that a great writer was distinguished by her ability to notice details. My favorite poets used the apt simile, the astonishingly revealing metaphor. In an attempt to become a great writer myself, I try to notice the small occasions. I’ll often get up from my computer screen to watch the sparrows look for nesting materials on my terrace, or see what kinds of vessels are navigating up the Hudson.
There are occasions when a lack of focus can be an advantage. I’m beloved by small children because I share their short attention spans. I get a lot of knitting done because I need to have at least three projects going at one time. I have more than 500 Facebook friends.
But I don’t have a job, and, with my birthday coming up next month, I’m aware that I don’t have an infinite amount of time to find one.
So I’ll try to hunker down.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go see what my cat is doing.
Media Goddess Martha Thomases was raised in an era when ladies never hunkered.