Monday, June 22, 2009

A Howl at the Moon

How I wish it were possible to meet other people's behavior in kind without having to think of oneself as equally churlish. It irritates me to feel obliged to take the high road, even though I know it's the right thing to do, and the only realistic option, when others are ignorant, unresponsive, unreliable, rude, ungenerous, thoughtless or so wedded to their own agendas that the mere hint of a differing viewpoint pushes them to dizzying heights of defensive anger and uncivilized restatement or to awkward depths of sulky withdrawal.

I would give a lot never again to have to deal with people who, as William James put it, think they are thinking when all they are really doing is rearranging their prejudices. I'm tired of "you scratch my back; I'll refuse to acknowledge you even have a back" behavior. I'm weary beyond belief of people unwilling or unable to keep their promises, people who don't follow up, people who ask and take but don't listen or give, and people who don't mean what they say (or maybe they do, but it doesn't matter because what they say has no apparent influence over what they do).

When did breathtaking inconsiderateness become something basically decent people allowed themselves to indulge in with nary a blush or pang? Get back in touch with me after a decade to request a personal reference, but via a note that makes it plain that you didn't even bother to look at my profile on the LinkedIn/Plaxo/Biznik/Facebook/Twitter route you took to find me and so have no idea that I no longer live in Chicago or that I've written books or have a website. Request that I send you something, then fail to thank me for it or even acknowledge that you received it. Call me when you need something; live the rest of your life in blithe indifference to my existence. Ask me to be your friend, your fan, your follower, to vote for you in some contest, to comment on your blog, to read your book, to attend some event, all with no attempt or intent (or, as far as I can tell, even any awareness that it might be possible) to do the same for me. Yammer on about how relationships are important, engaging is important, generosity is important, then treat everyone else as if they are nothing but numbers who can boost you in some way.

I'd love to be able to make the decision to become a "me first, me only" jackass and still live with myself. The high road is often a lonely, windswept, howling place. I've learned from experience, though, that taking it exacts a lesser cost from me than does grubbing in the crowded mud of ill-mannered, uncharitable, self-absorbed ugliness. But oh how I sometimes wish it were otherwise!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Now Appearing on a Blog Near You

I've written another guest post, this one for M-BRANE SF, the creation of Christopher Fletcher. In addition to being a blogger, Christopher is a chef, a magazine publisher, and a fiction writer currently living "in self-imposed exile in OKC." My thanks to him for the opportunity and to GUD Magazine for introducing us on Twitter.

My guest post -
"For Writers: A Story & Three Tactics" - is about my evolution as a writer of fiction, my writing process, and a few of the ways I polish my work. Please click through to read it. While you're on the M-BRANE SF site, be sure to take a look around; you'll find a lot of interesting material.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lawyers & Their Careers

No one who knows or has worked with me would call me an apologist for large law firms. I have written, in some places scathingly, about the many, many things these firms could do better relative to their workforce, to their clients and to running themselves like sensible, for-profit businesses.

(If you're interested in reading any of my constructive criticisms, check out The Productive Culture Blueprint or browse the Careers and Feminism posts here.)

But when I met Ron Fox on Twitter and surprised him by saying that I thought large law firms, despite their many shortcomings, were still the best places for new law grads to learn the craft of being lawyers, I found myself limning the positives of what Ron calls "BigLaw" to explain what I meant.

Our ensuing email conversation was quite spirited, and Ron suggested we break it down into separate posts for publication on his Lawyer Satisfaction Blog.

Here they are: