A New Life in Seattle

A New Life in Seattle
August, 2018

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Phone Call That Changed My Life

You may have believed you had limits...that turned out to be not as you'd thought. Today I'll tell you of one that I dealt with  and how it opened a door to new worlds.:

Over the years I'd developed a powerful aversion to phones. Powerful? I avoided them at almost all costs, preferring to send and get emails, even from family and friends.

Let me add one major qualifier: The last three jobs I've won came about from successful first phone interviews, lasting up to half an hour. So in a pinch, I knew, I could do phone business, even sound relaxed. But that isn't what I felt at all. I felt a lot closer to this:

I had a few reasonable grounds for my fear:
1) I felt more confident and relaxed in the other person's presence, believing--sometimes wrongly--that I could 'read' them more clearly.
2) I'd learned that on the phone smooth-talking agents or writers could unfailingly get me to say things or reveal plans far better kept to myself. And, with nothing in writing, I had no recourse if they chose to run with an idea.
3) I'd worked in three call centers, subjected to daily abuse...and the humiliating awareness that others were 'making their by numbers' while my job was always in peril. I'd come to believe they had better personalities or phone skills--when they were simply more manipulative and ruthless.
4) Silence on the other end compelled me to nervously blather.

My feelings about phones were best summed up in my notorious quip:
I hate cell phones. I've never been able to use one without wanting to shower with someone I loathe.

But something incredible happened this year. I struck up a Facebook friendship with Pam Stack, a well-known radio talk show host for authors online. At some point Pam dropped by my jaw by suggesting that I appear on her show. Immediately, I grew frantic. I wanted to do but couldn't--I thought. As it happened, though, I had a cold and she was facing throat surgery. So we had no way of talking for at least a month or so.

Even so, I agreed to do the show and began to prepare for it. First off, I needed to finish the fourth Boss MacTavin mystery and to put on a bit more speed than I felt sure I could. This I began to do. And, oddly, while Pam healed and I wrote with new passion for far longer hours, my confidence began to grow.

Well, the time came when we had to talk. It would be at once a friendly chat and perhaps an informal audition. How did I handle myself on the phone? Was I all talk and no listen? Was I warm and outward-bound...or cold and self-involved?  Did I stutter? Did I ramble? Did I have a high, squeaky voice?

The day came for our talk. So I dialed...and learned:


We ended up talking for nearly an hour. By the end of that hour I found I'd overcome my Telephonophobia.
--I didn't need to see Pam Stack to know that she cared about writers, a class including me.
--Nor did I need to see Pam to feel a burgeoning interest in her.
--Pam had no problem when I asked if we could steer clear of one thing on the show. And this taught me that I might have spared myself much grief if I'd known how to ask years ago: If you've already rejected my nonfiction proposal, why do you want more details on the platform-building part ? Or: If I tell you my age, will you tell me how often you and your lover have sex?
--The conversation with Pam was an adventure in spontaneity and harmony. The less I thought about what I'd say next, or worried about what she'd ask me, the more fun I had doing Stackphone.

Now I love my Samsung Galaxy Note 4.

And for that I thank Pam Stack and our upcoming interview. Further details TBA.

1 comment:

  1. There's nothing either good or bad, Reb, but thinking makes it so. But you knew that already. Enjoy the interview.


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