Saturday, May 13, 2006

Turn! Turn! Turn! (Or: Deidre Gets Naked)



Techno Babble. This will be my new term for the scrambling, mind-numbing confusion that ensues when one’s technological framework collapses. This past week saw the demise of my laptop and then the massive effort to restart my entire technological experience. If laptop failed, then blackberry wasn’t aligned—even today I learn I can’t send out email from home because of improper settings. So if you’re awaiting an email reply from me, it will likely arrive on Monday. Yes, technology, for all it enables me to be a better agent, a more quality friend, and a faboo author can sometimes simply fail. And I hate the insecurity that failure brings about in my reliable world.

And it’s not like I don’t understand the workings of these modern conveniences. In fact, those in my life (and those who read this blog) are quite aware that I am a techno queen. A lesser known fact is that for six years prior to agenting I worked in the computer technology field. There’s a surprise, and perhaps something many do NOT know about me. In fact, today while driving on the interstate I saw a license plate that read something like 13F2450 and realized that whenever I see that precise format of letters and numbers—particularly with the third being a letter not digit—I flash on IBM part numbers. It was an interesting era of my life, one when I truly believed God had placed me on the shelf. Many people have life crises in their forties or fifties, wondering why they’ve been put here, but mine came through my twenties after leaving the world of filmmaking.

You see, I'm one of the lucky ones--I’d immediately exited college and stepped into my dream career—and this without having spent day one in film school, something I figured I’d need in order to work in film production. How wrong I was! Because when a dream is meant to come to fruition, heaven itself moves to make it happen. There’s a Goethe quote to that effect, and I’ve always seen it reflected in my own life. That summer post-Mary Washington College (1988) I sold food and freezer plans in the home. Also a hidden tidbit about my life. I can honestly say I am one of those natural born salespeople you hear mythologized. And I'd come up through the ranks: While working at American Frozen Foods each summer as a telemarketer, I was scouted as a good potential sales person to…go in the home! In the words of Tom Cruise in JERRY MAGUIRE I was the master of the living room, or so it turned out once they gave me my anchor-sized briefcase and sent me out on “sits.”

In no time at all during that summer of love I rose to the top of food selling ranks: I was the number three sales person throughout the national corporation, toppling the records of mid-thirty year old mega giants. The kind of men (not women) that were always pointed out to us as champions, the sort those in the Fleebold, Indiana office should aspire to emulate. Btw, there is no Fleebold, Indiana that I know of, but I can’t recall where the fifteen or so sales outposts of American Frozen Foods were located after so many years. Anyway, I was pulling down a killer salary for a twenty-two year old, but there was one thing missing: I was unhappy. Unsatisfied and feeling shelved. So I prayed a simple-yet-heartfelt prayer, asking God the following, “Isn’t there something, Lord, that I can do to utilize my creative gifts.” You see, for all my driven nature, for all my discipline and focus that you see reflected in me today, those were acquired traits. At twenty-two I was a drifting mess, a living Jack Kerouac disciple who had spent the past four years on the road, biking around Europe, under-achieving in school, and generally slacking. There was no post-college plan. There was just me, in Atlanta, living with Pamela and trying to figure out who I was going to be.

Heartfelt, earnest prayers have a way of being fulfilled—something to remember, good friends. A few days later, perhaps only a day, I can’t say for sure, but I found myself in a car wash. Hardly the stratosphere of priests or miracles, but there I was, watching my car muddle its way through the brushes and soap and wax, and I heard a man on the pay phone. “I need to get more cans of thirty-five mil,” he said, and my body tensed. He worked in movies! This was my possible entrance into my dream job! But my young mind quickly provided an argument, “Oh, I’m just young, and know nothing…what could he have for me?” So you know what God does in these situations, don’t you? The man came and started chatting with me. Next thing I knew I asked if they were hiring, and he smiled demurely, saying only, “We might be,” as he slipped me his card. Two weeks later and I had an entry level position at one of the top independent film companies in Georgia. A year later and I was working on a top NBC television show, In the Heat of the Night.

This has nothing whatsoever to do with my stint in computers, but let’s flash forward by about eight or nine years. I’d found myself in sales again since, as mentioned, this has always been my most natural gift. But not even selling something creative or inspiring—selling computer equipment. Granted, I was selling it all over the world in a post-communist era of commerce, which meant taking our company into little outposts like Croatia and so forth. See, God always keeps it interesting while he’s testing and growing you in a vineyard that might otherwise seem boring. He knew I loved travel and other cultures, so he gave me the opportunity to take our company into twenty-two new countries. But I felt shelved. I wanted to write and I wanted my own business, so day after day I prayed the, “whyGodwhymewhynotnowhymewhywhywhywhy?” prayers. Every. Single. Day.

When the time and inspiration came to completion, I opened the agency—which I will post about tomorrow—how that miracle transpired, but the thing I learned? The thing I could see had been so masterful in the divine plan? That every one of those six years at that particular, family-owned company had been a proving ground, and had been about teaching me about owning the agency. To this day, I put those acquired lessons into play, and while that job had absolutely nothing to do with agenting on the surface, it had everything to do with perseverance, self-starting, aggressiveness, and closing deals. I’m the agent I am today because when it made no sense on the surface, I stayed the course.

In this agenting gig I meet many writers who feel they’re on the shelf, or that their time will never come. I just want to tell each of you who might be reading this blog that there’s a time and season for all things, and that while you might feel on the shelf, trust that it’s part of some greater outworking. One day you may well look back on your own time of whyGodwhywhy and know that there’s been a purpose. As the Good Book says, “To everything there is a season.”

Your time is coming too.
Keep going. You will get there.

16 comments:

Kristen Painter said...

What a great, great post. Isn't it amazing how your life makes so much more sense when you can look back on it and see God's hand in the twists and turns that held no reason at the time?

I'm glad you are where you are. For those of us like me who are finding their way in this biz, you're a great source of information and because you always come across as such a genuine person, you humanize a portion of the business that can seem so intimidating at times.

Thanks for all the time you put into answering questions and doing this blog.

TROYY said...

Really nice post/setup you have going...very nice indeed!

Bonnie Ferguson said...

This is a wonderful post, Deidre :)

Deidre Knight said...

Thanks, gang! This one just sort of wrote itself. I find the longer I'm in this business, the more I prefer to be real. It gives me much more to share, and hopefully it means I can help all of you more. :) Hugs,

Natalie Damschroder said...

This kind of post/essay always seems to come at a time when you most need it.

In my case, the decision is already made, the transition upcoming--and the story reinforces the decision.

Thank you

Diana Peterfreund said...

Wonderful story, deidre. I only hope that I'm taking a similar path...

lorraine said...

Wow, this is a fabulous post. One not just every writer should read, but pretty much every person who is in need of or desires a wonderful perspective check.

Thanks for being so real in such a public way. ;-)

Monica Burns said...

As always, you keep grounding me. I know there's a plan, I just don't always enjoy the waiting part. *grin*

I've a similar story I'll tell you some time. It's about that leap of faith. I need to get that back, that belief part. I'm working on it, I'm working on it. LOL

Pennyof said...

Deidre that was so true.
I am never sure that I totally believe in fate. I don't believe in ghosts until the hour of twelve when you'd never catch me in a house known to have a ghost in it.
There are lucky people and unlucky people. Some people have bad luck sitting on their shoulder.
Others seem to fall in naturally if the chemistry sets in. My son is a perfect example. I once said to his school principal after a problem had arisen and settled down.
Alon is the kind of person who would go to a casino because he heard they had free beer. He'd have a couple of free beers and leave. As he leaves he'd find five cents on the floor. Dropped there by some poor mug on the dole tipping the last of his meagre finances into the machine. And who had left with pocket linings hanging out of his pants. Alon would drop this coin into the mug's machine. Bells and whistles would set off, and Alon would win the $10,000 the mug had aimed for. That's Alon.
He opened a cafe. Got it in thebest eat street, for a peppercorn rent. It was so successful it got its own TV show.
Now he's a software genius. He's a very individual kind of person. Off beat. A television writer modeled a story around him.
I do believe there is a luck factor. Some people have them naturally. Others work hard at it. While others never realise their goals.
But I think that whether there's a luck factor or not that does occupy 50 percent, there is also 50 percent of self belief 'can-do' in it. It's not for the lazy or faint-hearted either.
I believe you have it.
:-)

MariaGeraci said...

Great post, Deidre! I can't wait to hear how you opened the agency.

Natalie Damschroder said...

You may not find this comment way down here, this late, but maybe...

I just wanted to congratulate you on the price you commanded in Brenda Novak's auction. :) I bid until I'd committed all my food and sightseeing money for Atlanta and had cut just a bit into my hotel fund, then common sense prevailed and I stopped.

Maybe next time! In any event, congrats to the person who will be dining with you!

chryscat said...

I love this.
And yes, my time is coming.
Grins*

Moira said...

Wow, Deidre.
Thank you so much for this beautiful blog. I just graduated from University last week and am working like mad at writing, unpublished :D, but I love it. So, this speaks very much to me right now. A woman of your abilities and accomplishments helps me see just what I can be too.

Thanks again for assuring me and all the other bloggers out here that my time will come, but only at the right time.

Deidre Knight said...

I'm so touched that this piece really spoke to so many of you. Thanks for letting me know--I can't tell you how it moved me to know that my story provided a little inspiration. Hugs!! D

Roslyn said...

You know, Deidre, as one of your oldest clients I really needed to hear that. I can’t say I exactly feel as though my writing career is on the shelf, because I’ve been writing steadily ever since I met you, and I do manage one slow book per year. So I guess that’s not bad. But sometimes I feel that the one thing I really want (a chance to get out there on my own and write full time) just isn’t happening fast enough. And sometimes I feel so tired, juggling a full time job with full time kids with a demanding writing career, and I do have a whyGodwhy moment. And the more tired I get, the more I feel it.

But you’re right. I mean, when you really think about it, what are my options…do I really want more time to myself, if it means that it would be to the detriment of my children or my day job? Because that’s the only time I would get it. And I CERTAINLY don’t want that! So I guess for everything there really IS a season. And I will get there eventually, with your help. Thanks much, girl.

Mave said...

Deidre,

I'm so happy that you've published. I'm a fellow Roswellian - I even tried my hand at some fanfiction, but eventually realized that I wanted to craft my own stories. I've been working on my first book ever since (okay that and my phd dissertation - my postdoc was at IBM - who knew we were both techies?). I hope to finish it within the year. Anyway, I was looking for a completed copy of Antarian Sky and I stumbled upon the news that you'd published. I'm ordering the book now. Congratulations!