September 15, 2012

The Job Hunt, Pt. 1: You Are Not Alone

Shhhh, be vewy, vewy quiet. It's job huntin' season.

It’s two a.m. and I’m awakened from a dream in which I take home the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay by my cat, meowing to be let out. I am tempted to throw a shoe, roll over and ignore him (as is my usual custom), when a solitary word suddenly projects itself on the movie screen of my mind and sends me to the side of the bed in a cold sweat: Rent.

I search frantically for my Oscar, but it’s nowhere to be found. I sigh, grab my glasses from the nightstand, and head for the kitchen.

A swirl of sleepy yet utterly lucid thoughts follows me in my quest for a glass of milk.

Out of film school a month now. Rent due in seventeen days and I still haven’t found a job. Bills already a month behind. Two jobs may be necessary, although right now one would be nice.

I open the fridge and grab a bottle of Sunny D instead. Panic and self-doubt begin to compete for space in my brain. I don’t remember inviting either of them.

You had a perfectly good job in Alberta. Secure. Stable. Sweet money. Oil money.

I pour a glass, sit down at the dining table, and find my own reflection in the sliding glass window. I make faces at myself, but myself fails to find the humour in it.  

You had a house, two cars, a dog, half the debt. You could hit the pillow at night and sleep the sleep of the dead.

I turn to a stack of resumes on the chair beside me for solace, but they offer small comfort. I turn on my laptop and review the list of jobs I’ve applied to, recall the pavement thus far pounded. Forty-six and counting. Like the unemployed characters in my nascent web series, Men 4 Rent, I carefully weigh the pros and cons of becoming a dog sitter, a bodyguard for rich seniors, a male escort, an international jewel thief. Nothing sticks. 

But oh no, you just had to go and become a writer!

I open a browser and begin searching for work. Again. I find an article that tells me the average job hunt lasts six months. Encouraged by this good news, I click on another article that prescribes visualization and belly breathing as ways to relieve the stress of unemployment. I close my eyes and try to imagine a rainbow-covered wheat field littered with hundred dollar bills and spritely Hollywood producers calling me by my first name as they prance like pagans around a shrine built in honour of my first feature screenplay. I ponder how belly breathing differs from regular breathing.

The cat scratches at the window, still waiting to be let out. Get stuffed, I think in his direction, though not in those words.

Then I see it and all my fears melt away. A small, blue and red book sitting quietly on a shelf as if it had been waiting all week just to remind me that this, too, shall pass. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. (Ah yes, Miss Rowling, you know what it’s like.) And to the left, David Copperfield. (As do you, Charles.) And to the right, a biography of Walt Disney, who was told in a time of great personal poverty – and I quote – he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas” by the newspaper editor who then proceeded to fire him.

Alright, I get it: I'll find something if I simply keep at it. 
Stay positive.
Stay focused.
Stay connected to your network.
Remember who you are, what you love, why you're on this planet.
And no matter what, don’t. . .stop. . .writing!

I close my laptop, throw back the last of my highly-processed (but totally delicious) simulated orange drink, and stand, bleary-eyed but resolute.

Alright, cat. You can go out now. While you’re out there, you want to find me a job? Or a rabbit, whichever comes first.   


  1. Christian Antonio Mejia AcostaSeptember 15, 2012 at 7:38 AM

    This too shall pass, I agree. Besides, you are the greatest writter I have ever met. Please excuse the world for not noticing yet, be kind with it and give it a chance.

  2. Nicely said, Paul. Funny because it's true. As struggling writers, filmmakers, artists, we do what we have to do to make money, even if it's something unrelated on the side. But you're right, the most important thing is to never stop writing. If you're resolute and disciplined, good work will come from that.

  3. You'll get there, as all good artists do.