Whatever else it is, writing can also be an outlet for the frustrations and confusion of daily life. Writers can create take those uncontrollable influences and experiences and then reshape them into situations, characters and plots where the world makes a little more sense (but doesn't have to be predictable, of course). Or we can just tell it as it is.
With that in mind, here is a stranger-than-fiction tale of a recent foray back into project management.
Now, before we start, I'd like to do two things:
1. Check if you're sitting comfortably (come back Listen with Mother, all is forgiven).
2. Give you a little background.
Freelance writing can be a fascinating and lucrative way to earn a living. It can also, in common with other forms of self-employment, be a case of feast and famine. So it pays to have a Plan B. Back in the corporate jungle, I became an accredited project manager, so I continue to look out for proj man temporary roles, among other work. Got that? Okay then let's move on.
Once upon a time...the telephone rang and it was a temp agency I'd registered with. And a good one too (and that's not just in case they read this).
"It's good news," they said. (See, I told you they were good.) "There's a project management job doing the rounds - full-time and a three-month contract."
"Hmm..." says I, checking the bank balance (which we also call 'The Pallor of Money'), and lacing my fingers together like a Bond villain. "Tell me more..."
And so they did, about a golden role that centred on Compliance and Project Management - in times past, two of my favourite subjects. Indeed, it was me who once coined the phrase about some of my product manager colleagues: Never Knowingly Compliant.
Anyway, the fairy jobparents sent me a job spec and, despite some hesitation on my part, due to the specificity of the role, I agreed to them sending in an application. Weeks passed before the fairy jobparents returned, with great news and gladness. I would be receiving a telephone interview.
'Crikey,' thought I, 'I'd better do some serious prep on this one.' And before you could say two hours I'd learned about compliance all over again, plus codes of conduct, government contracts and all manner of wondrous things.
The next day...
09.30 Interview time. I sat by the phone, flexing my fingers. By 10.00 my fingers ached. No call. No show. No clue. I rang the agency, and they had no clue either. They did explain that the job dude was given my details days before. Oh well, these things happen (to me). I asked them to reschedule it for the following day, and went about my business.
15.30 Same day. My other business concluded, I got back to the house and picked up a phone message. Interview dude said he never got my details until after the call time and that he'd try to ring me later. I left him a message, confirming my understanding of the new day and time, along with my number (even though, obviously, he'd already rung it to leave me a message - but one can never be too careful).
Day 2 (feel free to imagine a Big Brother style voiceover from here on in)...
09.30 Those fingers were flexing again. Right up until 10.00. No call. No show. Even less of a clue. I emailed the agency, who reminded me that they themselves were dealing with an agency, and they said they'd investigate.
10.15 Phone call. Brilliant. But it's not the interviewer. Not so brilliant. It's my agency. Interview dude apparently rang the wrong candidate - similar surname, although a completely different number - and interviewed my semi-namesake instead. My call would now be at 11.30.
11.30 Ta da! The interviewer called, and the first thing he asked was how much I knew about the role. I told him that I've read the job spec in detail and spoke a little about compliance and government contracts and so forth.
There followed an awkward silence. "That's not the job," he said, a little wearily I thought.
I hastily scrubbed out the half dozen or so pertinent questions that I'd put together and changed tack, asking him what the job was about. Both being professionals, we quickly got back on track with the job requirements, the high-level project objectives and the key skills and experience ncessary to fufil the role. The call ended after 30 minutes, with all the bases covered.
It's been just over a week now, and it's all gone very quiet indeed.
Worst case scenario - it's a blog post...
*Proj as in Bodge
Update: The job was cancelled. Another red letter day for project management.