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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Writing Prompt: Dream Job

By Marilyn Friedman

It's the last week to enter the comment contest for the best May/June story. So please sit down for ten minutes to write a story in the comments of any of the prompts from the last two months! I can't wait to see what you come up with.

I don't know about you, but I'm really looking forward to having a little downtime and writing time during the 4th of July holiday. Before we are all busy attending firework displays and 4th of July BBQ's, I have a few fabulous short classes left that you won't want to miss in the next seven days.

They include Personal Essay, Pitch Letters, Freelance Journalism with Taffy Brodesser-Akner who has gotten 28 students published and writes regularly for the NY Times and all of the big magazines like Self and GQ, Literary Games with award-winning author Grace Krilanovich (Best Book of Year on NPR and Amazon), and Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writing with award-winning author Maureen McHugh (Best Book of 2011, Publisher's Weekly). Sign up before they are full!

Scroll down for your writing prompt and to check out our list of upcoming summer classes. Hope to see you soon.

Classes June 25 - July 1st

Classes Starting July 9-14
Memorable Memoir Bootcamp: Make Your True Tales Thrilling
Addictive Fiction: Writing The Knock Out Novel

Writing Pad Events
Writers With Drinks

Other Journalism/Web Writing Classes
#FameSuccessLove: Harnessing The Power of Twitter

Other Fiction/Memoir Classes
Get Your Memoir Excerpt Published
A Novel Approach: Mastering The Long Form Story
It's Story Time: Storytelling For Kids
Short Story Reboot: Rescuing Your Crashed Creation

Other Screenwriting Classes
Work The Room: Mastering The Power of The Cocktail Party Pitch
Writing A Pilot That Can Fly (Weekend Intensive)

Writing Prompt: This prompt is inspired by the freelance journalism classes we have happening this week as it is a dream of mine to someday be a full-time writer. Make a list of your top three dream jobs (or your fictional character's dream jobs) or gigs that seemed like a dream job at first and then turned out to be nightmare jobs. 

Pick one of the dream jobs. Write down a few specific things that you imagined about this job. Who would you work with? What would you eat and drink? Feel free to exaggerate. Then write a sentence about what it's probably really like. Write for 10 minutes about this job. Make sure to include the specific things you imagined about this job. Make sure to post your story in the comments of this blog to be entered into the May/June comment contest for a free class!

For instance, I would love to make my living naming the OPI nail polishes or by being a candy taster. Also, I always imagined that running my own writing school would be a dream job where I'd have endless free time to write, exercise and relax. I was surprised to learn that although running the Pad has some wonderful aspects, I rarely have enough enough time to blow dry my hair and drop off dry cleaning, not to mention sit still.

What's your dream job? Write about it for 10 minutes, and you could win a free class!


LT Goto said...

What to Do for a Living

There once was a time when I was asked for my highly regarded opinion on what a young person, fresh out of school, ought to do for a living. And yes, I was naive enough to answer it and think my opinion would be taken seriously.

But there I was, being put on the spot in front of a group of young folks, all with dreams as wide as the Los Angeles air is smoggy. Okay, let's just stop right there, why don't we? I sound really damn jaded there, don't I? Smoggy? Let's back this rig up a bit, shall we?

The question was, "What to Do for a Living." Not "What to Do with Your Life." And so I answered it as such.

I said, "In my experience, I don't think you should do what you love for a living. I think you should do something that you're really good at."

And right away, a young blonde shot back, "I disagree completely! You should only do what you love. How can you even say that?"

Actually, she wasn't waiting for me to explain myself. She had already made up her mind, both that I was wrong, and that she was only going to do what she truly loved.

I smiled, in the way Japanese people do when they're thinking of something that doesn't really make them smile. And then I turned to a young girl who was still interested in my opinion.

Which is odd, because most young people I know don't really want to hear an older person's opinion. They just want to express their own opinion, especially when they ask someone else for their opinion.

So I looked at this girl and said, "Sometimes, when you do something you love for a living, it can take the love right out of it.

"Especially when you're not having a good day. Or when you're sick, or tired, or both. Doing stuff you love is really good when you're in a good mood. But when you're in a bad mood, the stuff you love can turn on you. And when it turns on you, it can really suck.

"And that's why you should do something you're really good at. Because you're still good at it, even when you're not feeling well, or you're tired or sick."

The young girl smiled sweetly. In my mind, I wanted to believe that she pondered that little piece of advice of mine and used it to enrich her life. I wouldn't blame her, however, if that smile of hers was just a cover for something else. She was Japanese after all.

Unknown said...

My cell rings at 3 a.m., and I answer the unidentified caller.

“My name is Mary, and I’m your recruiter. You’ve made it to the next round, and we’d like you to come out to Langley next week. You’ll need to stay for three days. Can you do that?”

I would have to book an expensive, last-minute, cross-country flight from L.A. and lie to my boss about my absence. But of course I would do it. If was going to be a spy, I would do anything.

Or almost anything. I was pretty sure I had flubbed my last interview. The recruiter (this one’s name was JoAnn – they all went by first names only) had given me the following hypothetical: You’re meeting a foreign agent in a hotel room in Dubai. Your agent is a member of the royal family, and his life will be in serious danger if anyone finds out he is meeting with an American spy. There’s a knock at the door, you look through the peephole, and it’s the police. What do you do?

I threw out some possibilities: crawl out the window? Hide in the closet? I finally thought I had nailed it. “I would start flirting with him and pretend we’re on a date!”

I was close, but wrong. The correct answer was that both of us should immediately strip naked and get into bed. Because a date wasn’t convincing. But sex was. JoAnn told me that Valerie Plame had been asked the same question in her interview, and she had immediately given the right answer.

Apparently my lack of sexual creativity wasn’t held against me, though, because I advanced to the next round: on-site interviews at CIA headquarters! And I advanced to the next round after that too, which was the polygraph test.

I failed so miserably my polygraph technician was laughing.

“You’re not just lying, Rebecca – you are lying about something you REALLY want to hide.”

But I wasn’t lying. I had been asked whether I had any secret contacts with foreign government officials. I didn’t. I never had. I don’t think I ever had any secret contacts with anyone except maybe a few exes I shouldn’t technically have been speaking to.

I probably could have said “yes” and passed the test, but then I would have been eliminated from the candidate pool anyway. So I was sent home from Virginia in shame, avoiding the disappointed looks from a whole panel of CIA recruiters who had told me, “The polygraph test is just pro forma. Everyone passes.”

I cried for about 12 hours and then breathed a huge sigh of relief. I’d spent two years in this arduous recruitment process, imagining myself like Sydney Bristow in Alias, saving our country from imminent terrorist threats, and in the most honorable way possible – without anyone ever knowing my real name. But Sydney’s fiancĂ© was murdered when he found out she worked for the CIA. Also, that was just a TV show. I had been rejected for this job because some stupid machine didn’t believe me.

What if I had become a spy? Who would have died because of me? What Qatari prince would I have had to blow in a hotel room? And what would the CIA’s massive web of technological machinery have said about me next? I didn’t want to know.