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Good...and I can prove it.
by Joel Heffner
they teach you in school, dumb can be very good for you. My writing
career started because I was extremely dumb. If I were smart, I would
have never done any writing. It all started when I applied for a job
that I was not qualified for at all.
time, I was a
teacher who was also working part-time as a wedding photographer. My
wife noticed an ad in The New York Times seeking an editor for a
newsletter about Nikon cameras. Since I was a photographer, owned Nikon
cameras, and was looking for ways to make extra money, it seemed ideal.
Never did I think that one should have any writing or editing
experience before applying for such a job. The ad was somewhat unusual.
Instead of asking for a resume, it asked three technical questions
about photography. I answered them all and sent off my answers. This
was back before email or even faxes.
later, I got a call asking me to come in for an interview. The
interview was with the editor-in-chief of Amphoto, the largest
photography publisher (at that time) in the world. Of course, he asked
if I had writing samples. I didn’t. After chatting for a while, I
mentioned that I was a wedding photographer. He said that he wanted a
sample of my writing on wedding photography. At the time, Amphoto and
Kodak were releasing an encyclopedia of photography, one issue at a
time. The issue that would include wedding photography was not
completed. I wrote the sample and they used part of it in the
encyclopedia, and gave me credit as one of the editors.
was scheduled with the editor. I thought that we were going to discuss
the job that I had originally applied for. Instead, he told me that
they were in the process of releasing a series of books. He asked if I
could write the book on wedding photography. I instantly said, “No
problem.” He said fine and would send me a contract. When I got home,
my wife asked me if I could really do it. My answer to her was a little
different. I said, “I have no idea!” My Amphoto Guide to Wedding
Photography came out a couple years later.
there. The editor suggested that I write an article for a newspaper –
The New York Times. I laughed. He wasn’t kidding. He told me who edited
the then weekly Camera Column that appeared in The Sunday New York
Times. I sent in the article and was shocked a couple of weeks later
when I saw it in The Times.
knew that you
had to be qualified to apply for a job, I wouldn’t have ever written
anything that was published. Dumb was very good.
didn’t get the job. They said I was over
qualified for it!