My writing career started because I was extremely dumb.
|My writing career started because I was extremely dumb. If I were smart, I would have never done any writing. It all started when I applied for a job that I was not qualified for at all.
At the time, I was a teacher who was also working part-time as a wedding photographer. My wife noticed an ad in The New York Times seeking an editor for a newsletter about Nikon cameras. Since I was a photographer, owned Nikon cameras, and was looking for ways to make extra money, it seemed ideal. Never did I think that one should have any writing or editing experience before applying for such a job. The ad was somewhat unusual. Instead of asking for a resume, it asked three technical questions about photography. I answered them all and sent off my answers. This was back before email or even faxes.
About six weeks later, I got a call asking me to come in for an interview. The interview was with the editor-in-chief of Amphoto, the largest photography publisher (at that time) in the world. Of course, he asked if I had writing samples. I didn’t. After chatting for a while, I mentioned that I was a wedding photographer. He said that he wanted a sample of my writing on wedding photography. At the time, Amphoto and Kodak were releasing an encyclopedia of photography, one issue at a time. The issue that would include wedding photography was not completed. I wrote the sample and they used part of it in the encyclopedia, and gave me credit as one of the editors.
Another interview was scheduled with the editor. I thought that we were going to discuss the job that I had originally applied for. Instead, he told me that they were in the process of releasing of books. He asked if I could write the book on wedding photography. I instantly said, “No problem.” He said fine and would send me a contract. When I got home, my wife asked me if I could really do it. My answer to her was a little different. I said, “I have no idea!” My Amphoto Guide to Wedding Photography came out a couple years later.
It doesn’t end there. The editor suggested that I write an article for a newspaper – The New York Times. I laughed. He wasn’t kidding. He told me who edited the then weekly Camera Column that appeared in The Sunday New York Times. I sent in the article and was shocked a couple weeks later when I saw it in The Times.
If I knew that you had to be qualified to apply for a job, I wouldn’t have ever written anything that was published. Dumb was very good.
Incidentally, I didn’t get the job. They said I was OVER qualified for it!
[Joel Heffner is a writer, speaker and creativity consultant who also likes to Twitter about creativity. He is the author of the Amphoto Guide to Wedding Photography and articles that have appeared in such divergent publications as the New York Times and the American Kennel Club’s magazine, the Gazette. Joel's main website is at www.joelheffner.com. He created www.thestorystarter.com to give writers over 300 million ideas for stories. He also created www.howwebecamewriters.com to show would-be writers how others got started writing.]