Posts Tagged ‘Seattle’

The Joys of a Poet

December 14, 2016

(And His Arrival at this Most Minuscule of Positions)

carl-nelson4

I cross the Ohio everyday.

Of the many experiences I remember of my theater years, the most compelling occurred on stage.  They were small moments, mini-scenes, in which the characters seemed so autonomous that the actors no longer needed to please the audience.  They were little sections of life that didn’t need to sell their plight to the audience; didn’t need the audience’s approval.  No great injustice needed be fought.  Rather, the tables were turned and it was the audience which could either watch or not.

These scenes from my work which have so stuck with me were quiet areas in the midst of the plays’ turbulences where this balance had been achieved… if only to be enjoyed for a short time, the world and theater being what they are.  Looking back, it’s occurred to me that the theater was not my calling as it is not rising conflict which energizes me but balance.  I love playfulness.

Amount and quality of audience are the two measures of a playwright.  If you cannot attract an audience and/or critical stalwarts, then you are not a playwright.  Those are the realities.  But like most practitioners I fudged.  I could attract a smidgeon of an audience, and some of them liked it – so I rationalized and called myself a playwright.  For I did write several plays, and they were produced, and, as unsuccessful people are apt to say, (with each career change), “I learned a lot!”

I would guess one of the reasons artists would yearn for great success – aside from the money and fame and beautiful lovers – is that it gives them a forceful argument when dealing with the complaints of people they have known privately.   For a very successful playwright, the easy reply is that, “Well, you are just a small minority of the many, many who loved it.”  A small time playwright cannot use this defense.  The troublesome person lives right next door.  The hope for audience is partly a defense mechanism.

Also a large audience will grant a artist the opportunity to command better and better opportunities.  For a playwright this would mean access to the best actors, directors, set designers, venues and… even audience.  But it also means restrictions.  The more money, the more pressures to reduce risk and to frequent travelled ground.  The better and more powerful your collaborators, the better they are at stealing the audience for themselves.  A popular actor might want the scene re-written to better showcase them.  A powerful director might insist upon their vision.  A powerful financial source might prefer the politics slanted a bit differently – or removed.  And the venue has a very worried view of what their regulars will endure.  With the acquisition of a large audience, there is always the risk of losing it.  The second guessing becomes as bothersome as pushing a huge rig down the road, squinting ahead, all the while glancing in the mirror at a wandering trailer.

I’d guess the first audience for most of us would be our parents.  And perhaps many of us found theirs as frustrating as I found mine.  Mom and dad would pay attention, but only in their terms; not unlike strangers.  This was a bone of contention between us for many years.  Finally, I gave up.  I no longer shared how I felt or my hopes, and oddly enough, our relationship improved markedly.  Mom and dad were intelligent, generous, caring people once I got over the fact that they didn’t want to know me very well.

Segue to the audience…

Since that time, I have employed this tactic often.  The solution to many an insoluble problem is to ignore it; proceed as if the world were created without that problem.   If acquiring audience seemed an insoluble problem for me, why not eliminate the audience?  For all these reasons – and the fact that I’d pretty much played out my hand as a playwright – poetry looked pretty good to me.

So after I had moved from Seattle to this Appalachian area, I looked around and found a poetry group which looked compatible.  They were close by, met frequently, weren’t attached to any college or university, and most importantly had sympathy for the spirits – albeit pagan, (in their case).  When I first read my poems to the group for their reaction, one of the first individuals to respond asked skeptically:  “Who do you imagine your audience to be?”

They all looked to me.

“I didn’t think poetry had an audience!” I responded.

“You may leave now,” the next laughed.

 

In truth, I had had my fill of trying to acquire and please an audience.  A writer gets tired of playing the whiskey drummer.  Some of my misgivings are revealed in a previous piece I’ve written.

the-audience-is-a-mob

Poets have little audience, generally make no money, and, unless they misbehave, command little attention.  We wander about in the artistic world a little like derelicts or the homeless.  All of which allows us great freedom.  And we catch our audience as we can… perhaps spouting off in a bar – or wherever we find ourselves for that matter, like the local hardware.  People don’t believe they are listening to poetry in so much as they believe they are arguing with a drunk or indulging an eccentric – which is a time honored practice in small, out of the way spots like here in Appalachia – or hope of hope, enjoying a laugh with a clever fellow!

Poets talk among themselves swapping words and a cleverly turned phrase in a verbal one-ups-man-ship.  And now and then when the urge to flock comes upon the poet community, they hold readings.  The grudges are dropped, the qualms muffled and a general comity of fellow feeling along the lines of “We are all in this together” and “I will listen to you if you will listen to me,” contains the aggregate of assembled oddballs.  Aside from this, poets send out their little missives to journals and odd sorts of publications as if spreading sparks in hopes of starting a fire.  This is the off-the-main-road-poet’s life, aesthetic nobodies chipping flints over damp wood and hoping for a conflagration.

As far as rewards, there is the quiet joy – something like that of a stamp collector – of having trapped a bit of life in verbal amber.  I’m reminded of the New Yorker joke showing the painter in his studio sitting to admire his painting on a Friday’s night with a coke and a theater pail heaped with popcorn.  Only the artist fully grasps the ins and outs and the subtleties of life captured in a well done work.  His lack of audience allows him unfettered freedom.  And his inability to market successfully frees up his schedule.  Find a bit of work or arrangement to pay the rent, add a few understanding spirits to voice admiration from time to time, and you have a satisfied fellow.  Or, at least someone satisfied enough to continue working…

A good poem doesn’t need an audience to be alive.  It’s alive all by itself.  It’s the audience which needs the poem to feel alive.  And that is because a good poem has balance.  And we rest in its achievement.  Not everybody of course, but there are people out there who delight in a little heaven here on earth.

So, to the number of audience an artist needs?  Just enough to keep him working, I’d say, and find him a little rent.

No more than fifty to a room at any time.  Anymore and it’s just the sound of hands clapping from somewhere out beyond the circle of light; the circle of trust…  but quixotically, always with the possibility of many more, if only to make the writing of the poem like purchasing a lottery ticket.  We keep talking and writing, hoping for that conflagration.

If you would like to read more of Carl Nelson, visit:  http://www.magicbeanbooks.co/home.html

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The Serenity Poetry Series

September 6, 2016
PoetsPoetry Readings Have a Long History

One of the more memorable evenings I’ve spent in stage theater occurred at a small forty person theater in Seattle called the Odd Duck.  A playwright, whose name I can’t recall and wouldn’t tell you if I did, had written a piece for the playwright’s group show.  His stuff was very watchable, but violent, bloody and transgressive.  It was also highbrow and stuffed with old Greek myths, all in all a bit crazy.  The playwright himself was somewhat likeable, but largely an ass.  And not only was he an ass, but he worked at it.  We’d go out drinking and he’d work his magic to get us kicked out of the bar.

Of course, he was left to direct his own piece for the show.  No one else would do.  And he ended up firing several of the actors, finally using a last minute replacement, who took on the role because he didn’t want the evening to suffer as a whole.  The short version is that they got in an unspoken argument on stage regarding the phrasing of a line of dialogue.  The playwright, (as I remember), wouldn’t feed the substitute actor the next line, until the actor would say the last line as the playwright felt it demanded.  This went back and forth, with missteps and false lines for a minute or so until the new actor said “this is bullshit” and  the playwright tossed some food at him.  The actor tossed it back.  A French fry flew out into the audience and hit me.  So I picked it up and tossed it back, striking the playwright on the nose.  He turned to the audience and glared at me.

I remember thinking, in a gleeful moment, that this was making all of the big theater productions feel like canned vegetables.

            For ten years or more I frequented playwrights groups regularly.  Actors would read our scripts and then the clutch of us would discuss what seemed to work and what didn’t.  Then, we’d re-write, or not.  Then have it re-read, or not.  Then seek a staged reading, or not.  Then seek a production, or not.  Then seek a better production or not.  All the while internalizing critiques and struggling to make the work better (more re-writes).  The theater is exhausting.  When you witness a musical production (one of the most arduous stage endeavors undertaken) which has finally made it to a prominent stage, you have to wonder what the hell they have left to sing about?  And how they even have the breath left?

The trick is that they work for the parts of the experience you don’t get paid for.  They work the parts without immediate remuneration or audience approval.  That’s where the fun is.  That’s what keeps them going.  (The rest is ego.)  That’s what kept our group of unsuccessfully realized playwrights working.  We were having group sex with each other’s talents.

(Scot Adams in his book, “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big”, nails this in Chapter 6: Goals Versus Systems staring page 30.  I recommend it.)

Aside from all of that, the process of dramatic production is one of constantly preening the narrative so that it meets expectations.  What kind of expectations?  Well, the expectations of others.  The audience has goals.  The audience has expectations for delight, surprise, the exercise of favored emotions, commanding characterizations, heightened dilemma, and a through line which embraces a widely favored public narrative – all of which is either at war or at least in a small struggle with the artist’s very individual, specific take on the world.  You cannot remove the politician from a popular piece of work.  Huge numbers of people all claim (honestly, I would suppose) to hate politicians.  But politicians are the only persons large groups of people will listen to in large groups.  Inside of every successful artist is a successful politician.   They aren’t necessarily likable, or positive influences, but they can claim the support of a vast segment of the population as a group.

The general public opinion of artists who are not successful is that they aren’t any good.  But from my years of experience I’ve found that people rarely persist in doing something they aren’t any good at.  (I was pleased to read that Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, agrees with me.)  And there are a vast number of ‘not very good’ artists out there, persisting.  From my years of experience with artistic habituates, I’ve found that nearly to a person, each artist held a shard of genius… possibly a very slender one, at times no more than the thinnest, near invisible gossamer thread.  But that winning at theater is more a game of poker.  You need at least five good cards which augment one another – plus to cop another phrase from Scott Adams again, ‘the X Factor’.  There has to be something about your work which grabs and energizes a particular set of fans.

Talent plus the X Factor is a rare occurrence.   But talent alone is not.  It is literally everywhere.  And this is what unheralded groups of like minded, unrealized artists mine.  They mine one another’s talent, and cast themselves as each other’s audience.  They enjoy the experience of utilizing their talent and enjoying the products of talent.  That’s not a goal, but it’s the system of these small groups of artists who meet and work and persist.

In Seattle, during my time, there were several groups of theater people who would meet to conduct staged readings of new work.  Most of the groups were formalized with a inner cadre of either officers or first rank members.  They received the readings.  Lower members on the totem pole received readings of lesser length and when chosen.  The goals were to produce work of the first rank.  Their goals were to get plays into the local theater or even more prestigious places.  They rarely put up productions of their own.  And you needed to pass muster to join.

Then, there was my favorite group.  It had no officers.  It generally had only one or two members who had taken it upon themselves to do the administrative and organizational work necessary to sustain the group.  And they generally emceed the meetings.  There were no dues, no officers, no qualifications to join – except that you had to be there.  (One fellow brought in a pretty good play written while living on the street.)  Anarchism was the politics.  The meetings were pretty much “Hello.  Who have we got with something to read tonight?”  Playwrights would raise their hands.  One would be picked and he would pick some actors from the audience and hand them a script.  And then, “Showtime!”  If the script worked, we had fun.  If it didn’t work, oftentimes the discussion was better.  Even conversation is a chance for writers to show off their wit.

What was the track record?  The prominent personalities in the local theater world in town vied to become leaders of the more formal organizations.  And those who reached prominence in these organizations were constantly badgering the theaters in the press about using local writers.  They all had lofty goals and big ambitions.  But these goals were not reached, their ambitions unrealized, and the organizations collapsed.  Five years was about the life span.

My group had no goals, other than to meet and do original theater.   We put on 3-4 shows a year, very few of which were ever reviewed in the local weeklies.  We were referred to as amateurish, without standards, and the artists who came through the group and eventually rose to prominence, nearly to a person, never mentioned our group in their resumes.  But, as I was leaving Seattle, our group still throve, about twenty years along.  And the majority of the local writers who eventually were produced in our regional theater, passed through our group.  This information wasn’t and still isn’t generally shared.

Presently I run the Serenity Poetry Series at a coffee house in Vienna, West Virginia.  My goal is to create a place, much like that theater group of mine in Seattle, where we all have ‘skin in the game’.  Anyone who loves the memorable, decorative, clever, or verbally notable for one reason or another is welcome to attend and share.  (You may even attend if you don’t.)  They might share poems, writings, song lyrics, or even jokes.  They can be yours or others.  Your artistic goals are your own business.  But the enjoyment is ours.  There is no audience to speak of, and this is not a career move.  There’s no fame in it – just artists showing off and exercising their talents.

There’s no audience in it, except us.  And there’s no money in it, except ours.  But to quote Scott Adams again:   “…we all know that money distorts truth like a hippo in a thong.”

And we’re all wondering to see what an audience would do!  Drop by if you’re in the area. We meet the second Friday of every month, 7-9 pm, at the Serenity Coffee House in Vienna, West Virgina.

(If you would like to see more of Carl Nelson, visit:  http://www.magicbeanbooks.co/home.html  )

 

Essays by Carl Nelson

February 11, 2016

Trail of Money

The Money Comes in Big Wads, or Not at All

 

This Mid-Ohio river valley town is a hard place to turn a buck.  As a salesperson you don’t have to make many phone calls to figure this out.  As I work my way down the Chamber of Commerce lists of local businesses I follow a lot of hardscrabble efforts and read a lot of unique business names.  I call and get a busy signal, a number disconnected, or a voicemail from six months previous.  Lots of pre-recorded voicemails predominate as the owner themselves are missing while out presumably massaging some other prospects themselves.  It often seems the selling around here involves a lot of sniffing of each other’s skat.  In short in this area, as in a lot of the rust belt and increasingly more coastal areas of the country, the hunting is getting scarce.  In these business pages you can certainly see people trying  …everything.  Pet salons, beauty salons, pawn shops, barber shops, chemical cigarettes, lawn services, clean-up services, insurance services, financial services, tax assistance…  Even the professionals such as accountants and lawyers are having to jog pretty fast just to get by, and they seem to go out of business nearly as fast as anyone else.  In my mind the local employment solutions remind me of when as children we tried to catch a bird or a squirrel with a box held up by a stick with a string attached to it with some yummy bait inside.  We used to wait a long time and rarely had any luck.  So also with fishing with string and a safety pin.

Most of the small business around here has been run out by the franchises.  The dime stores, the cafes, the hardware and clothing stores have been replaced by the Wal Marts, MacDonalds and Home Depots.  They take the money here, but their purchasing is done elsewhere.  The mines and oil companies pull the resources out, pay some pretty good blue collar wages, but they purchase elsewhere and take the money elsewhere also.  The chemical plants up and down the river are not as thriving as once, but they still pay some pretty good blue collar wages – but here again purchase and use the money elsewhere.  The government brings in some money in terms of schools and federal services.  There is a bit of farming and logging.  The industries with the most profitable looking presence around here are the hospitals, funeral homes, and tort law.  Just driving around you get the impression that the common activity is to die.  The most common posted historical photo is of some devastating flood.

Oddly there are some very good teachers and individual contractors around, as these seem to be relatively good paying jobs which allow some to the best people to remain in the area.  The majority of the service jobs remaining, however, barely afford a life.  And if you are a youngster trying to break into an occupation around here, there is not much job mobility and few openings.  Maybe every twenty years something will come along to rock the economy and a few job holders are lured from the safety of their sure employment into something else to create a vacancy.  Otherwise the suppliers and customers are as attached and committed to one another as an embryo to its placenta.

But, here, more and more it doesn’t appear as if we are alone out here in the woods of Appalachia.  Even in the metropolitan area of Seattle, where I once called home, and all around our nation people are talking about the hollowing out of the middle class.  At the dealership where we once worked in Seattle they demanded an extreme work ethic.  You could work extremely hard and earn quite a bit more money that we needed.  We could have also worked just a normal week taken home $150,000/year, gone to see all of our child’s games and made it home for dinner by 6 every evening.  Except that the latter was not an option.  The company needed $500,000/year from that territory.  Otherwise they’d get someone else.

I see this all around the United States.  The big game like an elephant, a whale or a rhino are still around.  And if you are equipped to hunt them, you will have more food than you can possibly need.  But most the deer, rabbits, squirrels, possum, fish, etc. are gone.  Normal people with normal skills need not apply.  You have been replaced by better software and robots.

Then, just the other day, this caught my eye.  It was an article written for “The Seattle Globalist” by Sahid Maxad, an immigrant who, after twenty years repatriated to Somalia.  Sahid writes:

“But I was also getting away from a mostly stagnant and unfulfilling life in Seattle — White Center to be specific.

I was tired of working dead end jobs just to pay the bills. I felt trapped in a vicious cycle, where I always ended up at the same starting point, with no end in sight. I felt as if I was living a real life version of the movie Groundhog Day.”

What Sahid found in Somalia was a very poor country, and yet one with “many continuous years of improved safety and infrastructure development.”  And the time seemed to be right.  “More and more people are choosing to take their savings and invest in startup businesses and NGOs in Somalia to help rebuild the nation on a grassroots level.”

“Returning diaspora members are positioning themselves for success beyond their wildest imaginations — especially compared to their prospects in the States. I’ve seen people come here with a modest amount of savings and leverage it into entire hotel chains and various other lucrative entrepreneurial enterprises.”

In other words, the game hunting is good there in Somalia for the burgeoning middle class.

I wonder if we might not see more and more of your own middle class heading for the poorer regions of the world in the coming years also, as they search out a better life.

Advertising Flattened

 

Travelling Expenses

August 7, 2014

And Finally!

Taken from The Weekly

Taken from The Weekly

Paul’s movie makes it to his hometown.  Imagine being an actor who stars in a movie that is released on the big screen in your home town!  Has to feel good, wouldn’t you think?  Read about it here in the Seattle Weekly:

http://www.seattleweekly.com/home/953977-129/best-of-seattle-new-movie-star

Clapboard

Seattle Celebrity News!

March 28, 2014

Lazzo Laughs6WEb Lazzo Laughs9bWEb

Troupe Comique to Make a Movie

While shooting promo photos for the upcoming Midnight Mystery Theater, (Coming to the Eclectic Theater in May.  Watch for it!), Mystery Theater writer/director and producer John Ruoff, revealed in a private chat that he was planning to produce a full length silent movie utilizing the Theater Comique players.  This is all he was wont to say.  (And, of course, it’s just about useless speaking to a mime, except to say that they appeared very excited!)

John Ruoff / Artistic Provocatuer

John Ruoff / Artistic Provocatuer

Midnight Mystery Theater Players

Midnight Mystery Theater Players

Photos by Carl Nelson

 

Travelling Expenses

February 4, 2014

Editor’s Note:  Here we go!  Follow Paul as his star ascends…

And This is What Happens Next…

“Saturday, Jan. 18, 11:00 a.m. — Downstairs, Main Street, Park CityThe place is packed, elbow-to-elbow traffic both upstairs and down, grinning businesspeople and harried publicists doting on idling celebrities waiting to get their pictures taken and then do it all again next door. This is just the first stop in a string of semi-cozy publisher-run DMVs, where people wait in long lines to have their photos taken in requisite initiation. Having a movie at Sundance is a great honor, but even more so, it’s exhausting; the march up and down the mountainous Main Street for brief and transactional press spots and photo shoots can leave you gasping for your breath and sanity.”  – Paul Eenhoorn
A Week With The Very Unlikely Breakout Stars Of This Year’s Sundance
buzzfeed.com
How the underdog cast and crew — led by a hard-partying septuagenarian eye surgeon — of a low-budget, offbeat buddy comedy became the surprise…  Go to:  http://www.buzzfeed.com/jordanzakarin/a-week-at-sundance-2014-land-ho
Plucked from Facebook

Travelling Expenses

February 3, 2014

Editor’s Note:  Do you remember when we first met Paul, here?  His latest film, “Land Ho!” has been picked up by Sony for distribution.

PaulEenhoorn

PaulEenhoorn

And Now, For The Good News

“Toasts are given and glasses clinked, everyone just floating on air, semi-delirious from sleep deprivation but focused on just how great this whole thankless business can be when you work your ass off and do things right. Eenhoorn, who earlier in the day was feeding off a feeling of vindication, is now just exuberant, discussing everything from ideas he has for his own directorial efforts to, at one point, giving his best impression of Al Pacino reciting “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”
The gruff, singsong impression is actually not half-bad. He’s all smiles tonight, optimistic about his future and glad, he says, that he stuck it out in this business.
Christina Jennings, one of the producers on the film, opens up about her pending decision to move to Iceland; never before has she felt such a spiritual connection with a piece of land, she says.
The movie has really changed everyone’s lives.”  – Paul Eenhoorn (written on Facebook)

From the Editor’s Perch…

January 12, 2014

Lady Gaga2

Fashion

 

            In the book, Fascism versus Capitalism, Llwellyn Rockwell Jr. mentions the Harvard philosopher, Santayana’s observation “that ideas aren’t usually abandoned because they have been refuted; they are abandoned when they become unfashionable.”  Most people reading this who have tried to introduce an unfashionable notion probably have suffered this observation.  You either find yourself socially isolated.   Or you are made to feel as if you are speaking in a foreign tongue, as if, as a woman at a theater rehearsal once told me (regarding my thoughts):  “I feel as if I am talking to someone from the moon.”  Thoughts judged to be unfashionable are simply left to die alone while conversing to the backs and sides of heads, and thence to float away, detached and withered, into the cold outer reaches.

The most dramatic example I’ve run across of this phenomenon is from the same book as mentioned above.  Henry Hazlitt was an editorial writer for the New York Times from 1934 till 1945 who backed a return to the gold standard.  He was finally sacked for his editorials in opposition to the Breton Woods agreement of 1945 establishing the World Bank.   Hazlitt wrote: “it would be difficult to think of a more serious threat to world stability and full production than the continual prospect of a uniform world inflation to which the politicians of every country would be so easily tempted.”  Throughout his tenure, no one, as far as can be seen, joined him in his warnings.  He could not even generate a credible opposition.  His opposition around the Breton Woods agreement ignored him, claiming a world catastrophe if the measure were not passed.

History has proved Henry Hazlitt correct.  And millions of lives perhaps need not have been lost to the devastations of WWII if the advent of rampant inflation had not been there to fuel the rise of fascist philosophies.  But no matter.  WWII did occur.  The Times has never apologized.  (Don’t hold your breath!)  And Henry Hazlitt lost his job.  John Maynard Keynes ideas appeared to be new.  Henry Hazlitt’s appeared to be old.  To be included in a current conversation you must be perceived to be ‘new’ – otherwise, the argument goes, why have one?   Though there was no factual basis of incompetence for firing Henry Hazlitt, by 1945 the Times publisher,  Arthur Sulzberger, “had had enough.”  “When 43 governments sign an agreement, I don’t see how the Times can any longer combat this,” he said.

 

“How important is sound money?  The whole of civilization depends on it,” says Llewellyn Rockwell.  Nevertheless, fashion trumps it.

 

            If these anecdotes don’t arouse you, then I give up.  I can’t reach you with a sharp pin.

 

But fashion itself is a fascinating topic.  It seems to move and change on its own timeline, without regard for events.  (Which, I would suppose is as we should expect, given its impervious nature.)  In my younger years I lived in a home I’d purchased on the cheap in the Rainier Valley area of Seattle.   This section of Seattle contained (and still does) the most diversified population in terms of race and ethnicity of any area in King County.  While I lived there, gang violence was endemic.  I still remember my neighbor arguing loudly in the middle of our street with his son not to join the gang which was waiting for him on the corner.  I had passed the years watching this decent kid grow from a toddler, to the middle school aged youngster who now apparently had been judged old enough to join the gang.  I also remember a neighborhood friend relating the tale of going to pick up her son at school and having to hug the floor of her car outside of the school to escape the exchange of bullets passing overhead.  Our community and the city government tried this and they tried that.  Then, after it seemed I had given up hope and had moved on anyway, it just ended.  No more violence.  No more gangs on the corner.  And yet everything else was the same.  Same people.  Same laws.  Same police.   Same homes.  Same everything.  Only the people who did that sort of thing, didn’t do it anymore.  As near as I could tell, it just passed out of fashion.

Photo is Lady Gaga from Google Images

The Seattle Celebrity News!

November 12, 2013

Editor’s note:  Here are a couple follow-ups from things happening about town:

Wanda Moats as the DUCK, appeared here with Wendy Cohen as the CHICKEN in WARP Theater's production of Scot Bastian's play, "The Other Side"

Wanda Moats as the DUCK, appeared here with Wendy Cohen as the CHICKEN in WARP Theater’s production of Scot Bastian’s play, “The Other Side”

Our DUCK Goes On to Appearance at the ACT Theatre

Our DUCK, Wanda Moats, has picked herself up off of the roadbed and is appearing as  part of a reading in No Number Home at ACT this Saturday November 16 @ 7:30 pm, and an excerpt on Sunday @ 2:00 pm. Tickets are pay what you will. Love to have you all attend and see our own quacker in another incarnation.

Flame in the Mirror Excels!

Irish Father talks to Son in Flame in the Mirror

Irish Father talks to Son in Flame in the Mirror

Also, I don’t know which Muse our playwright/actor/voice master/ John Ruoff was listening to when he wrote, Flame in the Mirror, but it has broken all box office records for the Eclectic Theater during its run there after a great critical write-up in “Drama in the Hood”:http://www.dramainthehood.net/2013/10/flame-in-the-mirror/

John may have been listening to the right Muse this time.

John may have been listening to the right Muse this time.

Photos by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch…

September 15, 2013

Doug-Latta

Circles of Intimacy / Where the Jobs Are

 

            Hiring takes place within differing circles of intimacy, which the forces of supply and demand determine, depending upon what the market for labor is.  (What a sentence.)

But the less companies desire labor, the shorter distance they will go to find it.  This struck me as I was chatting with a friend who is a technical writer.  He began his career in the tech boom times.  If you had a credible resume, then they wanted you.  And if you were competent, a full-time job was fairly certain.

Things have changed nowadays.  Whether it’s the economic downturn or outsourcing, having the resume doesn’t open the lock anymore.  You don’t come in through the personnel department.  There’s ‘a freeze’.  A large majority of companies aren’t looking for technical writers.

There are many parallels here with what has happened in the copier industry.

In the salad days of Xerox, salespeople were forking in the commissions.  Companies ran to Xerox for their equipment.  But nowadays our dealership has a large presence in Seattle, but it is extremely rare for anyone to call out of the blue looking for equipment.  Established customers might call up their sales reps to discuss an acquisition, but that’s as good as it gets.  Most often it’s the other way around; the sales rep calls the established customer to alert them to a special offer, or that a lease is coming up, or that they are paying too much for overages (and need a bigger machine).  The point is, the salesperson has to get in beside the prospect to convince them that they need new equipment.  The days of a customer needing something and then going out to buy it are long gone.  In other words, professional sales, as it is understood by the normal educated person, is not as it has been explained to be.  People do not need something, and then approach a salesperson to buy it.

Perhaps this misunderstanding for how sales works is because for most of us, this is how sales does work.  We need milk; we go to the store.  We need a house; we go to a realtor.  We need a meal; we go to a restaurant.  We need clothes; we go to Nordstroms.  This is not, however, how it works for copiers, and in many others areas of business.  As one newer, very bright, copier salesman said, flinging up his hands in exasperation, “I don’t know how anyone makes any money in this business!”

They do make money – but not where this salesperson had the point of sale located.  He was fishing way downstream.  He was calling people – and they were telling him they didn’t need a copier.  His ‘pool’ was all fished out.

Nowadays most of the prospects I call will say they don’t need any equipment.  To make money nowadays, a salesperson has to build a sale.  Over the phone the salesperson must qualify the prospect, that is, determine whether there is a possible sale there.  And then the salesperson must get an appointment with the prospect in order to assemble a need.  Few customers know they are paying $200/month too much for old equipment – except for those the salesperson who has gotten inside to discover this has alerted.  Suddenly, this salesperson has created a new need; they have created a possible sale where none existed before.

As I was chatting with my technical writer friend, it struck me that the same forces were at play.  Many tech companies no longer believe they need technical writers.  These are the day of Google and Wikipedia and crowd sourcing and forum threads….   A good resume cannot open this closed door.  Moreover, once hired, doing your job well will not necessarily keep you hired.  You must also have a presence within the company as someone who knows about technical writing issues and are worth speaking to.  By being taken seriously by those who decide to hire technical writers, the technical writer can use his insights to create himself a job.  But the job is created within a much more select circle of intimacy.  And to find that job, a lot of what you do is to create it.

Long ago my Engineer brother, who had a job in New Mexico, wanted to move to the Seattle area.   So he applied for a job with Boeing.  He applied through regular channels.  After he had sent in his application, he got to talking with another engineer who worked at Boeing and who was currently working on a project my brother was uniquely qualified to do.  The guy could really use my brother’s help.  So the fellow crafted a labor request for a position my brother was uniquely qualified to fill.  Soon, my brother was hired.  Six months later he got a letter, forwarded to him from New Mexico, from the Boeing Personnel Department.  They were sorry to inform him, the form letter stated, but there was no need for Engineers with his qualifications at this time.

This is what I am talking about.

Photo by Carl Nelson


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