Free At Last; Free At Last; Good God Almighty I’m Free At Last!

I had a wonderful brief chat with the owner of a top-notch marketing firm today and came away with a great deal of clarity about the next step in my writing career.

And the answer is?


Yes, the path to making a living in writing (whether it be journalism, creative, marketing, or technical) is to produce a portfolio of work, build a reputation in the writing community, and establish a network of relationships.  In other words, pay your dues.  Then, maybe your efforts will pay off and your talent will be discovered.

At first, I felt a measure of disappointment.  The prospect of building another career (with no guarantee of income) is rather daunting.  But, as I drove along I-65 South, I began to feel liberated.  I am confident of my writing ability.  Now, instead of dividing my attention between writing and looking for employment, I can devote myself to writing and finding the right avenues for my work.

Free at last.  Free at last.   Good God almighty I’m free at last.

Of course…. there is a cost to freedom. Fortunately, I have lived simply and not accumulated debt.  With the help of family, living expenses are minimal.  There may be only a thin safety net, but I trust God will provide if I do my best.

In the meantime, I appreciate your prayers and encouraging words.   I already have one project I’m working on and some leads on others.

“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.”   ― Dr. Seuss,  Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Dr. Seuss from C’est Si Bon in Seussville

My Mock Interview for a Marketing Internship

This morning I met with a job coach who offered me some very useful suggestions to help prepare for my coffee meeting tomorrow.  After our meeting, she hooked me up with a video slide show on “Informational Interviewing.”  One tip they provided that stood out for me was “BE SERIOUS.”  In an effort to purge myself of silliness (sort of like Mardi Gras before Lent), I thought I would write this post, imagining how the meeting could go (if I were to let it).

Marketing Guru (MG):  Tony Roberts?
Me:  Yes.  (extends hand)
MG:  Wow, has anyone told you you look like Brad Pitt?
Me:  I get that a lot.  We have the same optometrist.
MG:  I love the outfit.  Very hip.
Me:  I can’t take the credit.  I don’t dress myself.  I have people, you know.
MG:  Well, thank you for meeting me.  Would you like some coffee?
Me:  That would be great.  Some Americano.  I like supporting the local economy.
MG:  (to clerk)  That’ll be two Americanos, please.
          (to Tony)  So, you are interested in the field of marketing?
Me:  I am.  I have a way with words and I’d like to help small businesses and non-profits realize their potential.
MG:  How did you find out about our firm?
Me:  Through LinkedIn.  I explored your website and I’m impressed by your neighborhood focus and your creative approach.
MG:  Thank you.  Tell me, what have you done that could prepare you for a career in marketing?
Me:  Well, being a pastor involves a lot of marketing.  Only, instead of a product or service, you offer new life.  As pastor, I’ve led a creative team of volunteers and paid staff to interpret mission, build relationships, and foster community.
MG:  If you were a character on Sesame Street, who would you be?
Me:  Excellent question.  I admire Elmo’s playful charm, but I am more like Kermit, inquisitive and a real team-builder.
MG:  Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Me:  I would love to be doing work with a firm like yours, living in a neighborhood like this, writing day and night.
MG:  Do you have any questions for me?
Me:  Just one, but I’m afraid to ask.
MG:  Don’t be.  Go right ahead.
Me:  Do you know of John Prine?
MG:  Oh my, yes.  Greatest singer-songwriter on the planet.
Me:  Phew!  Okay, thanks.
MG:  Why?  Could that have been a deal breaker?
Me:  It could have, yes.
MG:  Well, thank you for contacting me.  You’ve given me a lot to think about.  I’ll be in touch.
Me:  Thank you for your time.  I really appreciate it.
brad pitt appears courtesy Brenda Clayton in Bespectacled

What do you think?

Would you hire this guy?

Marketing Minister Becoming Minister of Marketing?

Job prospects continue to arise for me.  Today, as I was taking a break from editing, I received a message reply from the owner of a small marketing firm in Indy, inviting me to meet for coffee.

Marketing is a field that has intrigued me for years.  As a parish pastor, I employed many marketing “techniques” to promote the services our ministry offered.  Over my 18 years, we went from snail-mailed monthly newsletters, to weekly sign boards, to occasional e-mail messages, to weekly ads in the Penny Saver, to the development of a website, a daily e-devotion, and a blog.  At each church I served, there was quantifiable growth in terms of worship attendance, membership, program participation, and financial contributions.

How would this translate into work with a marketing firm?  For one, I would bring a track record of reaching people of all ages (particularly often neglected older adults) with a message that motivates them to act – participate, join, contribute.  While I will no doubt have much to learn about modern “techniques” to maximize effectiveness, the principles involved for attracting new clients as well as engaging current ones carries over quite well.

To prepare for my interview next Wednesday, I have contacted a college friend who is in marketing, asking what key resources I might review.  I have also asked the same question of a blogging friend who also spent a couple decades in ministry before leaping into the secular business world (as owner of a website management firm).

How would you like to help me prepare?

What questions would you ask me if you were a marketing firm considering my services?

What questions would you recommend I raise in the interview?

Do you know of any high-quality marketing resources you recommend I study?

(image above  “marketing” from Mindy Reed in Jesus)

Completing “The Pursuit of Happiness”

elderly man

On January 9, 2013, responding to a writing prompt from Today’s Author, I composed a piece of microfiction about a modern-day Puritan, Steven Johnson,  who was not happy with his life, but who had settled with what God gave and took away.  His wife, Rachel, had grown tired of trying to make him happy and announced at the breakfast table that she was leaving him for lottery winner Saul Linford.  Steven responds by doing the dishes and playing “Your Cheatin’ Heart” at top volume as Rachel packs.

In the scenes that follow, we meet –

Monica: Stephen’s daughter who wants him to stay with her for awhile.  At first, he protests.

“I really don’t think that’s necessary.”

“Dad!  You’ve been together for over 40 years.  Do you even know where the can opener is?”

He thought about it for a moment.  “I imagine it’s in one of the drawers.  Isn’t it?”

We also meet –

Philip: Monica’s home schooled teenage son.  His Grandpa introduces him to classic country gospel music.  Philip introduces him to “Casting Crowns.”

Robert:  Monica’s positive-thinking husband who sincerely believes faith is a means to a greater end.

Together, the family attends the newly renamed church “Happiness Haven”, with a big statue of a smiling Jesus welcoming worshippers with open arms.

Steven gets hired as a Walmart greeter (or “Happiness Engineeer”) where he has a run-in with a runny-nosed 9-year old who demands a whole roll of stickers.

Steven’s estranged gay son (whom he hasn’t talked to in over 20 years) calls and invites him to come over for a visit.

Monica takes Steven and Philip to an art museum to research some religious works.  While browsing through the gallery, Steven is struck silent staring at a bronze statue of a cowering nude woman.  He collapses to the floor.

Steven wakes up in the hospital emergency room.  They run tests and find no medical reason for his black-out.  Most of his memory has returned, but he does not remember Rachel leaving him…

I’ll leave off the description there, saving a few plot twists and touching scenes for when the book, play and/or movie comes out.

Yes, this morning (January 26, 2013), I have a completed working draft I now plan market this as a short story, a stage script, and a screenplay.

Toward that end, I have made a few contacts –

I e-mailed my former theater professor – Doc Evans – who once told me to write him a play.  Doc is now retired and living in New York City, but he still has a lot of connections in the secular stage and screen world.

I sent a query to a local (Indianapolis) man working in the film industry.

I sent a query to the arts ministry of Redeemer Presbyterian (PCA) in New York City asking for their guidance.

I e-mailed the local chapter of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) to ask for recommended Christian publishers.

This may sound arrogant, but I fully believe God has given me a story that communicates the Good News in ways believers and non-believers would respond to.  I want to be the best steward of this story I can be.  I’m not looking to make a fortune, but I want to reach the most people I can.

If anyone reading this has helpful advice for the “next steps” I need to consider, please contact me in the comments of this post or by e-mail –

(image “Elderly Man” from xavi talleda, some rights reserved)

My Top 10 Anti-Resolutions for 2013

10.  I will not eat the food left over in my refrigerator from our Thanksgiving meal.

Time to clean out the work fridge.

(from akeg, some rights reserved)

9.  I will not go to the Super Bowl, sit behind the goal post and wave a placard with “Habbakuk 2:16b” on it.

 { “Now it is your turn! Drink and let your nakedness be exposed…”}

8.  I will not personally disprove the Big Bang theory.

church sign

(from mikecogh, some rights reserved)

7.  I will not hide shoes behind books in the Goodwill store so I can get them for half-price on the first Saturday of the month.

goodwill sign

(from revger, some rights reserved)

6.  I will not petition the Vatican to make folk singer John Prine a saint.  He has been divorced and remarried (at least once).  He is not Roman Catholic.  And neither am I.

john prine

(from wfuv, some rights reserved)

5.  I will not react so enthusiastically to my discovery of what “meggins” are that I go out and buy some.  (see Matt Robb’s post)

tight pants

(from Tricia Wang 王圣捷, some rights reserved)

4.  I will not enter any writing contest where the entry fee exceeds the top prize.

writing contest

(from thepocnews, some rights reserved)

3.  I will not comment on a blog post written by a woman grieving the sudden death of her husband by correcting her grammar.  (Or, asking her out on a date.)

i (I)  m (am) so sad(.) he (He) wus (was)my life.

2.  I will not use parentheses excessively…

(unless I absolutely must whisper something in the reader’s ear.)

1.  I will not pursue a Marketing Internship for the Hoosier Lottery (though I may submit the slogan “Be a Real Loser – Play the Lottery” for free).


(from chicagogeek, some rights reserved)


(Inspired by a writing prompt from Today’s Authors)