Keith Snyder
Door always open.

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Back among the alert and perky

Hard copy of a new short story has been sitting in various places around the house in a FedEx envelope (they're free, so you can steal them from your job) for three weeks.

That's when I quit my day job and took on two new clients. Since then, I've averaged, I dunno, five hours a night of sleep. It's almost like having newborn twins again.

Well, not quite that bad. But bad enough.

Last night, I got eight hours. The night before? Eight hours. Today? I finished the story polish in about half an hour and emailed the person I was supposed to email when I finished the story polish.

The day before all that? I got fired.

These things are all related. Life, it is a globulous web, an interlinkative... yeah, I can't finish the nonsentence. Anyway, I wasn't suited to one of the clients. It was audio editing. Which I do. No problem. But it's not a kind I usually do, and I made the mistake of thinking I could just follow their guidelines and it would be fine.

That never works. In retrospect, the jobs I've had where I really excelled were the ones where I knew both the subject matter and the assumptions and conventions of the people so well that I could ignore what anyone said--including people above me in the hierarchy. Forget what they say; give them what you know they need.

With this gig... I mean, I can edit audio. Got some audio? I can edit it. But I don't know the set of assumptions made by people who do this kind of high-volume production piecework all the time. I don't know which clicks they consider clicks, which clicks they consider part of the consonant, which breaths are acceptable, which breaths aren't, how much distortion is okay, how much necessitates a new recording session... I hear issues everywhere, and I could spend half an hour on each of these files--but I'm supposed to be knocking out one per minute. So which issues are the ones they care about, and which am I supposed to be letting go?

And it's not possible to describe these things in words, so even asking questions doesn't help. It just makes you stand out as the guy who doesn't seem to understand anything, and you still don't know what the answers mean--plus, different people will answer in different and conflicting ways.

But that's how any gig is. You just have to be familiar with the conventions, which only comes from being in the environment for a long time.

So I became the pig you don't teach to sing unless you're big on time-wasting and pig-annoying. Couldn't figure out what the hell they wanted, couldn't trust my own instincts to ignore what they said and just give them what I knew they needed, and I hung in there, losing sleep, worrying my wife, and getting extremely frustrated, because I'd made a commitment and didn't want to let down the guy who hired me--the same guy who hired me a while ago to write music for LeapFrog toys. (And that was a great, great gig, and I wanted to do right on this one.)

The contract was through March. I figured I'd keep killing myself, trying to clarify what I was supposed to do, turning down much more lucrative gigs, and making lousy money (it's piecework, and between not knowing quite what they wanted and getting hung up on stuff I wasn't sure wasn't important, I couldn't get fast enough) until the contract was up.

Thank god, they got tired of me before then. The call came Thursday morning. Thursday and Friday nights, I slept. Today's Saturday, I have more other gigs available to me than I even want--and I'm writing again.

I also got to the point where I think in another couple of weeks, I'd be up to speed with what they want. But who wants that when other people can just step in and do it? I don't, when it's my project. I think it was a relief to everybody when I stopped.

So bye-bye, high-volume piecework audio editing. Thanks for the new skill set. Hello, expanding contract day gig in Manhattan; nice to see you again, short story; and haven't we met, book proposal?

Oh yeah: And I LOVE YOU, I'M SORRY, AND I'LL NEVER DO IT AGAIN is now up on IMDb. The poster image and most of the cast and crew details still haven't been posted, but I've been watching for the last 24 hours as they verify and release all the information I sent them. I have time for obsessive behavior again.

Upcoming film festivals: Lake County and Syracuse. More to come.

The lesson from all this?

I dunno. But the short story's done.

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