Books read: 21
Words on LIBRARIUM: 3000/?--5000 maximum (this is more impressive when you consider that I started this week by cutting about 200 words from the story).
It's been a hectic couple of weeks.
I've been trying for the past few months to find a different day job. Adjuncting is stressful and not particularly lucrative, and the balance between how many classes I have to teach to pay my bills and how many classes I can teach effectively...doesn't really work out in my favor. I spruced up my resume and went on the hunt for new work. I finally found it, but some of the advice that I found along the way stuck with me.
I'm in a query mindset--CANUS is so close (*so close*) to being ready to go, so I'm trying to put together a great pitch letter. I'm finding that it's really not unlike looking for a job.
The specific piece of advice that's sticking with me is this: your resume should tell a story. Whatever your work has been, you should be able to frame your work history as a story of what you want to achieve and how you hope to achieve it.
This is... complicated.
My work history doesn't make a lot of sense. I've gone from radio and television, to academics, to administration without much of a plan. I don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Well, I do, but there's not really a set path that leads to "financially independent author." My strategy has always sort of been "do what I have to so I can do what I want to." Helpful for keeping up with writing, but not great for presenting as a purposeful narrative to a potential employer.
You find ways, though. Tying something you witnessed in radio and TV to an academic curiosity; demonstrating the way that teaching experiences prepare you to deal with deadlines and crises in administrating. But it takes some mental acrobatics.
One of the elements in a query is the bio: just a few sentences that give the agent a sense of who you are, what you'd be like to work with, and what business you have telling this particular story.
It's that last part that trips me up--for the same reason as the "your resume should be a narrative" advice. CANUS takes place in the distant future. And in space. With alien species. How can I draw a line from that to my teaching job? How does my experience make me "uniquely qualified" to tell this particular story?
I get why it's important, obviously. You bring yourself to every story that you write. Who you are and what you've experienced shape what stories you tell and how you tell them. But those lines can be tough to draw. Especially when you're writing genre fiction.
There's nothing in my work history that ties to space travel, and I've never met an alien species. But I have studied the way that economic relationships shape power structures. I've studied the ways that access to particular technologies can change daily life and who gets the final say in a conversation over the direction of resources. I've studied relationships between colonized and colonizers. And all of that comes with me to my story, my world, and my characters.
Sometimes it's hard to see how the threads of your own story tie together--even when you spend a considerable amount of your time weaving together the stories of others. But once you see the connection, you can point it out to others. And you can go into your own work knowing why you should tell the story; what you can give that someone else can't.