Monday, April 4, 2016

Importance of a Curriculum Vitae

I've had some new ideas on the writer's curriculum vitae in recent weeks. I say new ideas, but let's face it, there is nothing I can think of that is new. I'm sure there are others that better ideas on the ol' CV and notions of how to display a CV, or how to make one look really good. Who knows? Perhaps it's better to just fabricate one.

Years ago, during a job search, I was talking with a coach who asked me point blank: “What do you want out of a job?” Well, there was the obvious, I wanted a paycheck, I wanted something that didn't take up many hours and I wanted something that wasn't going to tax my patience. I just couldn't tell the job coach these things. “I don't really know how to answer that,” I said. He said, “Think about it.” So, I thought about it. This is what I told him: “I want a job that will build my resume, enhance my CV or make a great barroom story. Ideally, I want a job that will do all three, but it must do at least two.” He laughed. “That's the best answer I've ever heard.”

Then, just as now, I have more great barroom stories than anyone should have. I don't even hang around in barrooms anymore. Stories are stories. Who cares? And as far as the resume goes, those are all completely fabricated. I feel like a resume is just about the most insincere portrait on 8.5 x 11 paper ever conceived. Sure, I have one. I have several, actually. I have a whole file full of resumes. Again, who cares?

The Curriculum Vitae is somehow different, at least to me. I guess, as a writer, the CV has to backed up with real work. The work on the CV can easily be found, and if the CV is digital, the work is one click away.

I've written about the importance of the CV before. What's different now?

In the past, I thought of the CV as a mere reporting of what has been done, what has been accomplished. In my situation, I've included: my education, my publications, my films, my work at Umbrella Factory Magazine and this blog. I've also included my teaching and my acting experience, the latter is limited, but I feel like it's pertinent because I write screenplays. I also think that this is the common thought behind a CV, what has been done, what has been accomplished.

Well, it doesn't take much for a CV to become out of date and stale. For instance, I graduated college in 1997, and 2009 respectively. Most of my publications are quite old, I haven't had a new publication since Undertakers of Rain in 2013, and before that? Forget about it. My last film was in 2014, and I haven't taught since 2010. Sure, I'm still with my magazine, and I'm still working on this blog. But what else?

I'm still working. I write everyday. I'm still producing, but I'm not really creating much product. This, I think this happens to everyone, at least some time.

Now, I have a CV, why not be content with that? I have a CV and I can add to it when I need to, right?

This is not good enough. It just isn't. If you're in my situation, and your CV is out of date, or worse still, you have no CV, here's my new thought:

It occurs to me that I should focus on doing nothing more than just building my CV. I'm in the position now where I do not want to reject the past, my past accomplishments, or even my current activities. Where I am now is simply this: I want to be a proud owner of a kick ass CV.

I think anyone who starts their writer's shift each day with the notion of building a kick ass CV will, perhaps, have a clearer direction to go. If everything that gets done in a day is done with the sole intention of building a CV, you become a very tangible writer.

Also, there are many things that a writer, even a beginning writer can do to build a CV and build it instantly. For instance, you can enroll in a writing course at any continuing ed or community college, join a professional association like the AWP and either start a literary magazine, or ask to work for one (there is always work, and just asking will likely get you a job) will be the start of a CV.

As I said, for me, I have my education, professional organizations, publications, screenplays, editor, acting, teaching and business/academic writing. I figure that if I focus on doing things specifically to enhance what I have, even if I don't become that best selling novelist, I'll at least have a CV that will make me attractive as a teacher, or an editor. That's not a bad goal.

So, here it goes, I'm going to make the CV, or at least the building of it, the main focus of the second quarter, April through June.

Next time:

Week 2: building the CV, part I
Week 3: building the CV, part II

Week 4: the process and outcome of the CV

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