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.