An emotional résumé; model of influence; in the writing huddle: Newsletter 14 February 2024

Newsletter 31. Looking back on your career, in praise of college writing centers, the disruption of a Canadian bookseller, plus three people to follow, three brand new books to read, and a plug for the imperfect manuscript.

My emotional résumé

I’ve been helping a friend with her résumé. The hard part is shoehorning valuable experiences into a format that favors jobs and positions.

When I look back on my career and life, I don’t see jobs. I see emotional growth.

So I’m creating an emotional résumé. More of an amor vita than a curriculum vitae.

As you read this, think: how would your emotional résumé read?

  • 1976-1979. Had a lot of fun at state university, developed an unwarranted sense of superiority. Learned to avoid romantic attachments with obsessive qualities.
  • 1979-1982. Academic destiny not achieved; academia proved too sterile. Boosted skill and affinity for mathematics, which proved useful.
  • 1982-1986. In emotional relationship, mistook partner’s cruelty for boldness. Escaped with integrity intact, but lost all cash. Lesson learned.
  • 1982-1984. Learned the value of work among smart people — and the joy of writing well. Made my boss a friend for life.
  • 1984-1994. Worked way too long and hard in startup companies. Created beautiful and clever things, well. Managed people, poorly. Got book publishing experience by accident that proved valuable later. Learned to eat poorly, a bad habit.
  • 1988. If you meet someone wonderful who appears to be your friend for life, run towards them, not away.
  • 1995-2010. Children are a blast. Diapers don’t last forever. Being present for your kids’ lives is an awesome experience; don’t miss it.
  • 1995-2015. If you can get a job where you’re constantly creating, learning, innovating, collaborating, traveling, and connecting, stick around as long as possible. Also, stock options. Thanks, George.
  • 2007-present. Don’t give up on the dream of writing a book. When you’re done, write another. Sustained wonderment.
  • 2010-2015. When your children tell you who they are, believe them, even if it’s hard. They’re not the only ones who are growing.
  • 2015-present. Severance is a chance to reinvent yourself, don’t waste it. Connect with writers — they’re fascinating, and appreciate expert help. More better books are worth investing in. Also: if you have a good network and financial cushion, freelancing is a great gig.
  • 1982-present. Invest more, spend less. It pays off richly in the long run. Expensive things are ephemeral and ephemeral things are expensive.
  • 1990-present. True love with the right person is worth more than anything else in life.
  • 2024- . . . Stay tuned. As the old guy in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” said, “I’m not dead yet. I’m getting better!”

One more thing. My son is getting married today. My daughter has just graduated from university. Now I can learn about life from them!

News for writers and others who think

From the LA Review of Books, a piece in praise of the college writing center, which is often as much about fellowship and support as it is about writing.

Canada’s leading bookstore Indigo blames its sales downturn on digital disruptions, including cyberattacks (Publisher’s Lunch, subscriber link).

Yes, she’s Cindy Crawford’s daughter. Yes, she’s a Gen Z supermodel. And an actress. And increasingly Kaia Gerber is now a big influencer in the book world. (Wall Street Journal, gift link). (I found the Journal‘s choice to illustrate this article with nearly-naked pictures of Ms. Gerber to be questionable, since she’s clearly making an impact with her brain more than her midriff.)

Three people to follow

Carol Tice, prolific ghostwriting expert.

Maxie Schmidt, outstanding customer experience researcher and analyst.

Pam Hurley, expert on clear writing, especially in corporate settings.

Three books to read

Extremely Hardcore: Inside Elon Musk’s Twitter by Zoë Schiffer (Portfolio, 2024). Meticulously researched insider story of the gonzo, wacko goings-on after Elon Musk took over the social network. Just released yesterday.

Fluke: Chance, Chaos, and Why Everything We Do Matters by Brian Klaas (Scribner, 2024). Fascinating anecdotes on random chance.

Get Signed: Find an Agent, Land a Book Deal, and Become a Published Author by Lucinda Halpern (Hay House, 2024). Quick, useful tips on pitching traditional publishers.

A plug for imperfect writers

Have you written a manuscript?

Could it be better?

Contact me. I can help.

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