Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Failure of the Day: Pretentious Drivel

So me, I'm getting right back on the horse and applying for more jobs that I'm not really qualified for but that sound cool. The latest candidate is a Content Developer and Writer position for a company that does museum exhibit design and fabrication. Here's the cool part: in their ad, the qualifications they asked for were "a background in fast fiction and/or haiku writing." No shit. They also asked all applicants to complete the following writing exercise and include it with the resume:

In 15 words or less, write about your favorite animal or historical character. In addition (not included in your 15 words) describe the photo you would choose to accompany it. After you have completed these two items, explain why this exercise was difficult to do.

I might have done this exercise even if I didn't want the job, just because it sounded like a hoot. Here's what I wrote:

15 words (including title) about leeches:

Qualities of Hindsight
Bad medicine, but
We fear the worm instead of
Blaming the doctor.

Photograph: large leech jar, mid 19th century

The modest porcelain jar is emblazoned with the word "leeches" and cheerfully decorated in a familiar shade of green—it is the same hue used for modern hospital surgical scrubs. One can imagine the two discrete responses the sight of the jar would evoke in the patient: quiescence and faith. The craftsman succeeded in creating a piece of equipment whose practicality is not overpowered by an ostentatious display. And it is porcelain for good reason—the patient presumably would not want to see the instrument it contains until it was absolutely necessary. The jar itself achieves its functional goals, as do the leeches it contained—after all, they were required only to suck the blood. The only failure was the doctor's, who cured no one with this treatment.
The difficult part about creating the writing samples to the required specification was not the limitations imposed by the form, but choosing a subject that would be suited to this exercise. I wanted a subject that would be simple enough to be described briefly, but that evokes a complicated response. In order to do this, I chose a creature whose size and shape could be described well enough in a single word, "worm," but whose history, through no fault of its own, still horrifies. To further highlight this complex relationship, I chose a photograph of a physician's leech jar—a fascinating and not unlovely creation, but one used to further man's folly. As such, the jar itself serves as a metaphor for the leech.

Yep. I wrote a hailu about leeches! For a job!! And sure, it's pretentious and full of graduate-student platitudes, and most of it is a complete lie...I chose the subject because when Chris came home from work yesterday, I showed him the assignment and said "What should I write about?" And he shouted, without so much as a moment's hesitation, and for reasons I still don't understand, "Leeches!" So that's what I wrote about. What would you have written about if someone had shouted LEECHES! at you? And (eat your heart out, Jeff, by which I mean thank you) I got to talk about NaNoWriMo in my cover letter as a qualification for the position.

Sent the resume et al off this morning.


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