Tomyamaguchi’s Weblog

Just another weblog

World’s Greatest Tweeter?

My recent Twitter post wishing a happy birthday to Ray Bradbury got me at least one follower, and she doesn’t even have naked pictures she wants to show me. It’s always nice to know someone is reading. I am reminded of my own encounter with Bradbury that I am now a bit embarrassed about. I got a chance to speak to the author when I was a nineteen-year-old student at Palomar College in Southern California. Bradbury, who has boasted of being the world’s greatest writer, was giving a lecture in the college’s geodesic dome auditorium. During the question and answer period, I told him I wanted to be the world’s greatest writer, too, and asked for advice. Bradbury laughed and told everyone, “See, there is room for more than one of us.” He then advised me to work hard, keep practicing, and expect rejection. He told me he still received rejection letters from magazines every week. Most people are lazy and give up easily, he said. Good writers do not give up and keep submitting their work until they get published.

Later, I realized his comment about sharing the claim to greatness was really saying that I should find my own niche. I gave up on writing mediocre science fiction stories and spent a couple decades trying to find that niche. I wrote essays about my environmental and political interests. I wrote humor and satire because I have loved reading great humorists and satirists like Mark Twain and Art Buchwald. I had a fair amount of success getting letters to the editor published, especially when I was involved in a small political group that advocated growth control. That was when I was living in the small town of San Marcos, where Palomar College is located.

After moving to Berkeley, I worked for a non-profit agency that assisted homeless people seeking employment. That was where I became a resume writer and learned how to write functional resumes for our clients. Functional resumes are different from chronological in that they emphasize skills over employment history. The homeless population we worked with had large gaps in their work histories. Many were making career changes, either out of choice or necessity. For them, the functional resume, as taught to us by the late Yana Parker, was the best choice for marketing themselves to employers. An example is my resume on my web site. As I worked with job seekers, I found myself really enjoying writing resumes. Needless to say, my coworkers found my attitude quite odd since they hated that part of their jobs. For me, it was an exciting opportunity to hear people’s stories, and I heard a lot of great ones. Many were not suitable for a resume, but others were after a little creativity was employed. When people saw their stories on paper, they were always thankful. Then there was the feedback that could be quantified. I knew the resumes I created were effective when people reported back that they were getting interviews. So I could say that, for a time, I did find that niche. I was the world’s greatest resume writer.

A number of people have told me I am a good writer but I have never had the confidence to attempt to make money from it. Given the current media landscape, it is getting more difficult to make writing a career, and anyone can get themselves published without worrying about editors or rejection letters. We can Twitter and Facebook. We can blog and post to listservs. We do this without an editor to tell us if what we are writing is worth publishing. We are left to become our own editors, which means we must look at our own work critically. Yet how many of us can be objective about our creations?

The fallout of the freedom to publish without restriction includes spam emails and tweets. We flame each other in newsgroups and post inappropriate comments to news stories. The web is full of so many words and so little worth reading. Yet amid all the noise, I find voices worth hearing. I will compose, revise, and revise again, hoping that the result means something to someone, somewhere.

August 24, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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