"Dear Ginny," I wrote. "Washington is lousy with writers. There's one under every rock. All the colleges and universities around here have produced lots of bright young things with master's degrees in journalism or public relations. And the streets are crawling with would-be investigative reporters looking for their big break.
"So where does that leave me? Still looking for a job."
I arrived in the area convinced of the limitless opportunities for writing-editing jobs after a successful stint on a daily newspaper in Pennsylvania. Heady with an award for a feature story I had written, plus sales of articles to wire services, I had no doubt that Washington was just waiting for my arrival.
Five months and 50 cream-colored, linen-finish re'sume's later, with not one interview under my belt, I have decided to change tactics. I've had it with endless variations on the same somber cover letter detailing my incredible accomplishments and outstanding personal traits. I can't take being polite and respectable anymore.
From now on, my cover letters will read something like this: "Dear Mr. Employer:
"He-ey! You want a writer? Give me something to write and I'll write it -- anything! I grew up writing, and later I got into editing and layout, and I'm good. Take my word for it.
"Friends save my letters for the day I'm famous so they can make a bundle compiling my correspondences.
"You'd regret hiring someone other than me because I don't just write, I really write. I put my heart into it.
"You can look at this enclosed re'sume' if you want, but it doesn't tell the whole story -- the years I spent living in a cabin in a northern Maine forest with no running water or electricity, raising three kids; the time I jumped from a barn loft and hurt my knee; the three separate occasions when I broke my collarbone. It doesn't mention my father's sense of humor, my mother's boundless curiosity or my husband's wary acceptance of my idiosyncracies. The re'sume' fails to include all the friends who have inspired and influenced me, or all the events that have shaped me -- like the time I had to go down into a 17-foot well to clean it because it had been contaminated with oil. Or . . .
"But you don't have time for all that. You want to know what I can do for you. Listen, your organization is only as good as the people in it, not just the skills they've acquired. You want a real person to go along with those skills? You want someone with verve and guts, determination and a sense of humor? You want a writer? You got a writer! Me!"
Now I have to start figuring out how I'm going to schedule all the interviews after these letters go-out.