Thursday, August 11, 2005

A Circus of One

Today tastes like iron, garlic, and persistence.

Some weeks ago, during a long and evil down period, Mummie Dearest sent me a note, signed with her signature howling coyote, that read “Trust your mother, not those who doubt you.” I hung it over my workbench in the paper studio, where I would see it as bookends to the work day as I left and as I returned. It’s an external source of faith for times when I can’t bootstrap myself.

And in the last couple of weeks, a bunch of stuff has come together like that moment in breadmaking where you finally have enough flour, and the dough magically stops being a sticky mass and all rolls up into a clean elastic ball.

I submitted a poem to Annie Modesitt for her new book, Cheaper than Therapy. What the heck, electrons are free, right? She’s accepted it—actually sent the publishing agreement and all that. Watch for Cheaper than Therapy this fall, in the rapidly growing knit lit section.

I’m riding several horses with one behind, and hoping to quit the circus act soon, but there you go. I wrote an article for a former and (hopefully soon) future boss (the once and future boss? Should I call her Arthurella? Hmmmmm . . .) Anyway, I wrote an article about the then-pending Junk Fax Prevention Act (which passed, by the way. Basically what this does is makes it easier (and legal) for marketers to spam you via your fax machine (where YOU pay for the paper and toner. This was a total non-no under the TCPA—47 U.S.C. §227. The new bill can be found here. It takes effect January 1, 2006. Quick, fax your congressperson and tell him or her to put down the crack pipe!)

Ok, enough parenthetical exposition. Anyway, one of the attorneys on board for Arthurella saw it, and asked me if they could re-publish it in their newsletter. Now, mind, it reads very much like the paragraph above, soapbox and all. Chatty and conversational, with a couple of definitions, references, and what it all means to you. Not a lawyer’s tone at all. Way cool, sez I, so long as I get a byline. Better yet, add a contact for the fledgling company so we can get some ink out of it.

And they did. Not only that, they asked me to whip up an article for their firm for September with reference to Arizona’s tort reform laws as they apply to personal injury caps! Woooo-hoooooo, a project to sink my teeth into, with a guaranteed audience. Crunchy, and good with ketchup.

And as mentioned earlier—one behind and three horses. Arthurella has me doing some of the work that will become the full time position (soon, o soon). I’ll be the liaison between the company and the out-of state attorneys who work for us, so we’ve been getting my contact info together, and I’ve been starting out with phone calls and e-mails to fellas who’ve been out in the cold for a while, making demand and waiting for fees to come their way so they can file suit. It’s very similar to a job I used to do for her—and very different at the same time.

It’s been far too long since I was captain of my own destiny. Arthurella hates to micromanage, and I’m used to reporting in at each and every step—boss, I tied my LEFT shoe. I’m going to tie my RIGHT shoe now, may I? (She’s also bright and logical enough to realize that if you grouse about being asked to APPROVE each step, you don’t get to BLAME when the employee makes a mis-step.) So I’ve been telling her my strategy, and informing her of the promises my mouth makes so our behind can cash them.

I’ve been tap-dancing with this one fella, dickering over a fee agreement. I finally got him to show me his, and it was more than we could handle. I told him that, and counter-offered—then spent the afternoon chewing my fingernails to the elbows, worried that I’d blown it. That I’d exceeded my authority AND ticked off a potentially powerful partner in this gig.

Opened up my email this morning, and there’s a response from the guy. Opened it up gingerly—and he’s fine with our counter-offer, wants to get this show on the road. I smoothed another’s ruffled feathers—hopefully they’ll stay that way. I’d forgotten about the plunges on the roller-coaster ride of a new company.

But the highs are so high. And the thrill of effectiveness; of actually making stuff happen on your own recognizance and judgment makes it worth learning to juggle flaming chainsaws while walking a tightrope.

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