I read an ad the other day for a “Rockstar profile writer” and I responded to the ad, with great excitement, because it sounded like a terrific job. Writing full-time? Interviewing interesting people? I was practically drooling I was so excited.
It felt really weird. The application asked for links to my best stories and a link to my LinkedIn profile, and a photo. The application didn’t give me a chance to write a normal cover letter or send a resume, which I thought was weird. Then again, I got the impression that the ad was written by someone in their 20’s, or possibly 30’s. I don’t know many millenials who use the word “rockstar.”
The word “rockstar” to me conjures up an image of Jim Morrison, who was the quintessential “rockstar.” His defining characteristic, to me, was that he used a lot of drugs and died young. Was he a genius? Debatable, but probably. I don’t think any employers truly want a “rockstar” – someone who lives fast and furious and burns out.
I think what an employer truly wants is someone who stands out from the crowd by being extremely dedicated to the job, loyal to a fault, and willing to go the extra mile to get things done. What would you call such a person? “Rockstar” seems the opposite of that. “Rockstar” seems to imply youth. Then again the Rolling Stones are bonafide “rockstars” and also grandpas and eligible for social security.
There is a perception in the business world that someone in their 50’s shouldn’t be hired because they will not be as productive as someone younger. I understand that perception. When I was in my 20’s I felt the same way.
Now that I am in my 50’s, though, I see the other side of the coin.
Since I missed the chance to write a real cover letter, I wanted to respond to the ad and explain why I would be the perfect person for the writing position.
What most people don’t realize about being a paralegal is that it develops a lot of skill sets critical to being a good journalist or writer.
RESPONSIBILITIES (what you'll be doing)
Researching and writing original content. I’ve been writing a blog since 2005 and I’ve written more than 3,000 blog entries here at The Crab Chronicles. I’ve also written many articles for online and print publications. Like, hundreds of them. I’ve also written website materials for myself and for a number of lawyers.
Reading background material and preparing interview questions. In my paralegal life, I’ve read literally thousands of pages of depositions and file materials and called and interviewed witnesses. Not once or twice, but literally hundreds of times. I’ve interviewed CEOs of companies, store clerks, and all sorts of folks in between.
Interviewing top business executives. I was an employment law paralegal for 15 years. I’ve interviewed countless business executives – not about fun profiles of them either, about touchy subjects like why they’ve been accused of sexual harassment. If I can handle those interviews I can handle anything.
Crafting catchy headlines. Every time I write a blog headline I keep in mind what search engines will pick up. The first time I read the definition of the term “SEO” [search engine optimization] I laughed because I’d been doing SEO for years already.
Preparing irresistible story ideas. What makes an “irresistible story idea”? Once that’s defined I will be able to take the ball and run with it.
Email intro'ing clients to our photographers. That sounds like standard business correspondence, not anything terribly difficult. If I’m trying to describe the photographer in a positive way, I can do that. It’s like writing a press release.
Interfacing with countless internal cloud-based tools like Slack and Trello. I’ve never used Slack or Trello. However, I just watched several videos about them. I understand why one would use them when employees are scattered around and working from home. Being in the same room with someone and handing them paper? That’s so yesterday. Trello looks like a more evolved version of Outlook, but it looks pretty easy to use.
Editing your colleague's stories. I’ve been editing briefs for lawyers for many years. I’ve also edited website content for lawyers. I’ve edited my mother’s blogs for years now. I’ve edited countless papers for my children, which is why they get good grades in English. Editing is my favorite thing to do, next to writing.
QUALIFICATIONS (skills you should have)
● 3+ years of professional writing experience. I have been a professional writer for more than 6 years and I have a master’s degree in Creative Writing.
● Skilled at writing 2,000 word features and 500 word stories alike. I’ve written two books and I’m working on a third. I’ve written more than 3,000 blogs, most of which are shorter than 500 words.
● Outstanding interview skills. As a paralegal, I interviewed witnesses countless times. I’ve interviewed many people for my blog featured called Twenty Questions. I worked for a newspaper once and got to interview famous people. No sweat. I can interview anyone about anything.
● Terrific researcher and master at LinkedIn and Google advanced searches. I currently work for a publisher and I spend a good deal of time researching. I was researching online starting in 1993, when most of you reading this were in grade school.
● A compulsion for impeccable attention-to-detail. I worked for lawyers for many years. If I had not been detail-oriented I wouldn’t have lasted 6 months as a paralegal.
● Exceptional ability to tell stories. I come from a family of storytellers. I love to tell stories, which is why I love to write. Most of my 3,000+ blogs are my written stories. I’ve also written 2 books and 3 feature-length screenplays, which is taking storytelling to a whole other level.
● Ability to translate complex ideas into simple ones. Talking to legal clients often involves explaining lawsuit complexities in easy-to-digest ways, and I’ve done that countless times. Also, I have read my kids’ school textbooks and explained concepts to them in simplified terms many many times.
● You know how to dive deep into someone's background, cut through the fat & get to the core of what's truly fascinating about them. Yes, I do. I learned this from attorneys, who hate anyone in their office wasting time. Cutting through BS is an important legal office skill.
● Can perform at high-quality under tight deadlines. I’ve done that my entire career.
● Whiz at headline writing and crafting SEO titles. Yep.
● Copy editor extraordinaire. Yep. Lawyers have given me Appeals Court and Supreme Court briefs to edit.
● 100% reliable. Always. I don’t drink, do drugs, smoke or drive anywhere at night, so yeah, this one is covered. I can also supply you with names of former employers who will vouch for me on this one.
● Killer communicator, both written and verbal. Read my blog. Call me.
● Self-directed. I’ve been mostly working from home now for years. My whole life is about being self-directed. I take care of myself, my mom, my son, an old house, my car, my dog, my career - all myself. All the time.
● Can start right away and hit the ground running. I can start on Thanksgiving if necessary. We're eating in the early afternoon and not watching football.
TEN MORE REASONS WHY I WOULD BE AWESOME – yeah, some of these are things you can’t ask me in an interview
- I am looking for a job where I can stay for the next 10-20 years, not a stepping stone to another job.
- I write every day, 300-3,000 words, whether I am getting paid or not.
- I do not have small children at home and there is zero chance I will get pregnant and have to deal with childcare issues.
- I’m not married and I don’t date so romance will never divert my attention.
- I hate drama and BS. I will go to great lengths to avoid both.
- I write every day, 300-3,000 words, whether I am getting paid or not.
- I may be over 40 but I actually LIKE learning new technology things like Slack and Trello.
- I have a terrific sense of humor and that often comes through in my writing.
- You will never find anyone any nicer than me.
- My threshold for boredom is very low, so I like to stay busy.
From My Resume:
Assistant Editor The Big Bold Beautiful Blog, June 2011- January 2012
A Marietta Gal's View (Editor only), July 2009 - present
Editor, Home Depot legal departmental newsletter, The Legal Eagle, 2005-2006
Contributing Editor, Chambers Mabry McClelland & Brooks paralegal guide, 1996
The Write Rainmaker [my blog about writing services for small business owners]
The Crab Chronicles [daily blog] Writer and Editor, 2005-present
The Word Ocean devoted to publishing poetry by Southern poets
Recent Web Articles:
A Fun Time At the Boneyard, Atlanta Area Mom’s Blog, 1/16/2015
What Never to Say to Adoptive Parents, Atlanta Area Moms Blog, 3/10/15
Ten Tips to Get Your Child to Eat, Atlanta Area Moms Blog, 4/1/15
Cowgirls, (review), The Edge Atlanta, 5/19/14
Eric Has Two Mothers, (guest blog), Monday Coffee and Other Stories, 01/29/2014
Recent Print Articles:
“Season of Ashes,” in Georgia Backroads Magazine, Fall 2015
Prosthetics: To Wear or Not to Wear,” In Motion magazine September/October 2013, pages 16-17
Adopting Alesia: My Crusade for My Russian Daughter (nonfiction) Wyatt-MacKenzie Press, June 2009
This is a memoir about my daughter’s adoption from Russia in 2004.
Jack's New Family (Children’s fiction) United Writer’s Press, January 2007
Jack is a 9 year old Russian orphan adopted by a single American Mom. He describes in his own words [in Russian and English text] how it feels to be
adopted and live in America.
Our Day of Passing: An Anthology of Short Stories, Poems and Essays, edited by Ingrid Hall, Summer 2015
My essay about my father’s death, “The Last Gift,” was included in this anthology about death.
Monday Coffee and Other Stories of Mothering Children With Special Needs, edited by Lyn Jones and Liz Whiteacre, (nonfiction), fall 2013
My poem “My Daughter Sings” is included in this anthology of essays and poetry by moms of special needs kids.
The Divinity of Dogs: True Stories of Miracles Inspired by Man's Best Friend, edited by Jennifer Skiff (nonfiction) Simon and Schuster, October 2012
My story “The dogs that lived outside the orphanage” is included in this collection of true stories.
Snowflakes: A Flurry of Adoption Stories, edited by Teresa Kelleher (nonfiction), Wyatt-MacKenzie Press, November 2009.
My essay “Interesting Connections Observed” was included in this collection of stories and poems by adopted children and parents.
Call Me Okaasan: Adventures in Multicultural Mothering, edited by Suzanne Kamata (nonfiction) Wyatt-MacKenzie Press, May 2009. My essay, “Mothering My Russian-Speaking Children” was included in this collection of essays by mothers living all over the world. The book was named one of The Japan Times’ favorite books of 2009. Call Me Okaasan also won a bronze medal in the 2010 Independent Publisher's Book Awards competition.
Additional Writing (Play Reviews):
Guys and Dolls (Review), The Edge Atlanta, 11/4/13
Stomp (Review), The Edge Atlanta, 9/27/13
The Book Club Play (Review), The Edge Atlanta, 5/21/13
Stacey Todd Holt: from 'Swing' to Lead in 'The Producers' (Interview), The Edge Atlanta, 1/29/13
The Producers (Review), The Edge Atlanta, 1/29/13
Les Miserables (Review), The Edge Atlanta, 4/27/12
Billy Elliott: The Musical, (Review), The Edge Atlanta, 3/15/12
Spaghetti Squash, (Guest Blog), Adoption Under One Roof, 3/6/12
Memphis (Review), The Edge Atlanta, 2/2/12
Divided Among Themselves (Review), The Edge Atlanta, 10/3/11
Come Fly Away (Review), The Edge Atlanta, 8/5/11
A Lady With Whole-Life Swag, (Interview) The Big Bold Beautiful Blog, 8/3/11
Fiddler On the Roof (Review), The Edge Atlanta, 7/22/11
Adoption Under One Roof: Guest Columnist, Cooking With D, (September 2009-May 2011)
M.A. Creative Writing, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 3.8 GPA
B.S. Drama, University of Georgia, Athens, 3.42 GPA
- Golden Key National Honor Society, inducted 1984
- “The Lost Boy and the Train,” Poem, published in The Phoenix, the University of Tennessee literary magazine, 1990
- Finalist, Atlanta Film Festival Perfect Pitch contest, 2003, for screenplay “The Theory of Hip Movement”