Thursday, February 14, 2013

Professionally Single, Part 2

As she began to write, she found that she had much to say. She wanted to talk about the judgments that she got that hurt. She wanted to talk about the things she accomplished on her own. She wanted to talk about the benefits she found. She wanted to talk about the humor she found in the men that saw her column as a challenge. The more she talked the more others responded. She got mountains of emails everyday in response to what she wrote. As much as she tried to prevent it, they did interfere with her job. It was only 3 months into the deal and she was worried about her job. A Friday afternoon in that third month her editor called her into his office.

She took a deep breath. "This is it, but you will survive because you have a following and you have your work. You could even publish a book."

"Ms. Rayburn, when you proposed this column 3 months ago I was a sceptic. However, it has become one of the most popular columns. That has forced us to break our agreement and offer you the position of staff writer earlier than agreed."


"We are officially offering you the position of staff writer at this time. "

"Thank you sir. Are you sure about this?"

"Honestly Miss Rayburn if we don't someone else will. We have fielded several calls asking to syndicate your column. These papers have noticed that you are not currently listed among our writers. That fact has made them rather excited. We would like to keep you here at The City Post. We are more than happy to syndicate your column to as many papers as ask. We do require that you give us first publication rights for your articles and that you stay with us for the duration of your column or 2 full years, whichever comes first."

"What if I want to publish a book? Would I have to buy the rights to the articles from you?"

" I don't know what the decision about that is. We can discuss it further on Monday. Today I would like a verbal agreement to stay with this paper."

"Yes I would love to stay with the paper. However I do want final publishing rights to my work."

"If you are serious about that, then this weekend prepare the wording that you would like to have on the contract and we will leave a space for it."

"That seems more than fair, Mr. Barnes. Thank you." Noelle said exiting the office.

Noelle took the directive seriously. She came up with various phrases and sentences. She spoke with several friends and some other colleagues to ensure that it was just what she wanted. First thing on Monday morning, Noelle met with Mr. Barnes, the owner of the paper, and two other supervisors. She presented her wording and her reasoning. It was a remarkably simple discussion. They thought it was quite fair and put up no argument. The contracts were signed and she was now officially a staff writer with protected works. She spent the rest of the morning moving from one desk on the second floor to a desk on the fourth floor. She said good bye to her friends in the advertising department. As she was moving into the new desk, she saw several staring at her. Some were envious. Some were curious. Some just stared with no particular emotion. She just continued about her business without responding to any of the stares. 

Lunch came quickly. She gathered her purse and headed toward the deli around the corner. She entered and   Julie asked, "The usual?"

"No. I'm rewarding myself. A Hot Pastrami on Rye with deli mustard."

"What is the occasion?"

"I got a promotion."

"Congratulations! It's about time. You've been working your rear end off. You deserve this!"

"Thanks. You are too kind." Noelle complimented as she was picking up her sandwich. She moved to an empty table and began to eat. A few bites into the sandwich a well dressed man approached her. 

"Are you Noelle Rayburn of Professionally Single?"

"Yes." She said cautiously wondering if this was an aficionado or a conquistador.

"I really admire your writing is humorous and realistic. You don't take yourself too seriously, but you do take your work very seriously. It is really enjoyable."

"Thank you. You are very kind." Noelle said still unsure of his intentions, but appreciative of the genuine compliments. Not quite sure what to say next an awkward lapse began to yawn between them. He didn't fidget or move. He just kept standing there. So she invited him to sit down. 

"I would love to sit down and chat some more with you about your writing process."

"Are you an aspiring writer?"

Monday, February 11, 2013

Professionally Single, Part 1

Noelle sighed as she sorted through her mail. She recognized another shower invitation. She opened it and was disappointed to find a wedding shower invitation. She preferred babies because there was no future commitment with them. New mothers didn't want bunches of people to come by, so no time for awkward questions. It was just friend time and a little bit of cuddling. Gaining a husband or a baby didn't matter when it came to the shower because they were all painful with numerous awkward questions about the lack of movement in her job or her life.

"I really wish she was having a baby." Noelle complained to her boxer dog, Chili. "I know I should be honored that I have so many friends who want to spend this special time with me, but after a while it feels like you are making fun of the single girl."

Chili's response was to to sigh while laying down on his bed.

"Thanks for caring so much." She continued complaining, "Couldn't I at least have some tragic break up story that explains my singleness? Well maybe that isn't the best idea, but it would make a better story."

As the words left her mouth, something in her brain clicked. A better story. "That's what I need." For the next few days, Noelle set about creating a better story. She knew she needed a new job title. She couldn't afford to quit her job, but she could at least have a new title or a part time job with a new title. Not just any new title, but something that made her singleness special, something that made it worthwhile.

"AH HA! I've got it." She exclaimed frightening Chili. "I will be professionally single" She sat down to write out a sample article to show her editor in the morning.

She approached her editor's office the next morning. "You have a degree in journalism. You have worked at this paper for 5 years. It is time for them to trust you with something new."

"Yes it is." She said straightening her posture and holding her head high. She entered her editors office to present her idea.

"Are you creating a new job for yourself?" He asked accusingly.

"Not at all sir. I am suggesting that I continue in my current job while adding a new column to the newspaper that will appeal to a new demographic. I have not seen anything like this amongst our competitors either. All of these benefits will come to the paper at no cost for the first 6 months. If at that time, the paper would like to cancel the column they can do so with no further requirements. However if the paper would like to continue the column, then I would be promoted to staff writer with the appropriate salary." Noelle calmly presented.

"So for the next 6 months, you continue to do your job as well as writing a column for the Lifestyle section. What if I don't like it after one month?"

"You are free to cancel it at that time."

"So what's the catch? Why are you working for free?"

"Honestly, I'm tired of the people in my life expecting me to have a life that follows everyone else's time table. I want them to respect my time table. Publishing articles about it will certainly shut some of them up. All I ask for are a few business cards to reflect the validity of the work I am doing."

"That would come out of your salary."

"It would be a small price to pay for gaining some respect."

"They can't say that you are a staff writer. So what would they say?"

"Noelle Rayburn. City Post. Professionally Single."