In which I deviate from my typical literary theme and rant about my start at LE
I recently realized that I have been a reviewer here at Literary Escapism for over a year now. (A year?! Really? Time really does fly.) Yep, August 18, 2010 was the day my very first review was published. (I went digging through all my old emails and discovered that I was officially accepted on August 6, so technically it’s been a little bit longer than a year.) Anyway, I decided to make this rant all about how I got started here because it’s kind of a funny story.
The following story is a true story, though some of the details may have be exaggerated.
Last summer, I had a part-time summer job at my library and one day, being the excellent employee that I am, I got on Facebook. (It was a slow day and I was bored. Don’t judge.) Now I can’t tell you exactly how, but while I was browsing I came across some pretty book covers and quickly went through the entire photo album.
“I must see who has put together such an awesome album of amazing books covers!” I probably thought to myself. Eagerly, I clicked on the name and found myself at Literary Escapism’s page. “Pretty spiffy,” I again probably thought to myself. But then I looked more closely at the top post. It was an ad, looking for fantasy reviewers. “That’d be a TOTALLY awesome job, but so not for me,” I definitely thought to myself.
See, while I am an avid reader, and I do love to write, I just didn’t think I would make a good reviewer. Sure, back in high school I was on the school newspaper and wrote a few book reviews but that surely doesn’t count. Right? Right. So I let go of the idea of having the best job in the world of reviewing books.
But then I happened to mention it to my coworker/friend Maury. “Do it do it do it do it do it do it do it!!!” she may have chanted before explaining herself. “One, you’d be totally amazing at it. Two, it’s your dream job. And three, it’d look excellent on a resume.”
“But but but Jackie, the woman who runs/owns the site, wants the reviewer to review 5 books a month! And I’m about to start college, and hopefully get a job to pay for that. And then there are all those others books that I want to read but won’t have the time if I’m spending all my free time reviewing books for the site. Besides, who would want to listen, or I guess read, what I have to say about books,” I complained, not daring to let any hope take root. “Though it would be pretty awesome.” I muttered under my breath, hope taking root despite my attempt to thwart it.
“Exactly!” Maury cried, after using her super hearing skills to listen to my mutterings. “You should just apply and see what happens. You can always quit if it doesn’t work. It’s not like she would send the mob after you if you decided life as a reviewer is not for you.”
“Oh alright,” I finally admitted defeat. (Side note – I think it took Maury at least a few days of poking and prodding before I finally relented. I just gave you a super fast version of all of our conversations.) I filled out the form, pulled out my first review from when I was writing for the school newspaper and sent the email.
I immediately started freaking out. Should I have done this? Did I present myself as someone who really wants the job or as a loser with no life? Would I even get a “call-back”? I should have sent a different review. I should have done a million different things.
Finally the day came when in my inbox there was the email response from Literary Escapism. I lept out of my seat and ran around like a headless chicken, but screaming like a banshee. She had responded so soon that something in there must have wowed her. I was SO in!
Calming myself enough to sit (relatively) still, I opened the email. No I didn’t wow Jackie with my amazing review. Nor had I said something in my original email that made her want to have me start working right away. In fact, she pretty much hated my review. So she told me how to edit/fix it and to send the fixed up version back to her by the end of the week.
I leapt from my seat again and ran around like a headless chicken, but for an entirely different reason. Egads! My review was truly awful. How could I possibly fix it in only a week? There was so much to cut, chop and delete not to mention everything else that would be needed to replace all those lost words. Plus it had been about a year since I read the book. What was I supposed to do?!?!?! My quick solution was to continue to run around like a headless chicken, hoping that the solution would fall out of the sky and hit me on the head.
The answer didn’t hit me on my head, but my kind, annoying, smart younger sister did. “Shut up, I’m trying to do something that’s vastly important and you are annoying and disrupting me,” she probably said, while I blinked away the stars dancing in front of my eyes. Instead of beating her up for nearly decapitating me and turning me into a headless Casey instead of a headless chicken, I explained to her my dilemma.
“The answer is quite obvious,” she stated, as though I was stupid for not realizing it from the start. “Write a new review on a different book.” “Oh.” I said. Why hadn’t I thought of that in the first place? Luckily I had just so happened to have finished Every Which Way But Dead by Kim Harrison. Pretty awesome book, if I do say so myself.
Once again, I calmed myself and sat back down in front of my laptop. I cracked all ten of my fingers, rolled my head around my neck and gently set my fingers down on the keyboard. And promptly took them off again. What was I doing?! This wasn’t going to matter anyway. I was absolutely, positively positive that tons of people had applied. The fact that I even got an email with edits was amazing in and of itself. There was no way that even if I did somehow write the most epic review of all time that Jackie would pick me over all those other, more qualified people.
“Do it do it do it do it do it do it do it do it do it do it!!!” I heard Maury chant in my head. “Alright, alright already!” I shouted back. “Just get out of my head.”
And so, I proceeded to write a fairly decent review of Every Which Way But Dead by Kim Harrison. After comparing it repeatedly to the edits she had sent about my previous (and awful) review, and making sure that I hadn’t made any of the same mistakes, I sent her the new review. Then I sat on pins and needles while I awaited her response.
About a week later, just when I started getting tired of sitting on pins and needles, I got the acceptance email. I jumped. I screamed. I hugged myself. I started running around like a headless chicken for the millionth time. I did it! I got my dream job! How many people had I defeated? A dozen? Maybe two dozen? It couldn’t have been more than that, right? I mean, my first review did absolutely suck. Were they all worse than that? I desperately wanted to know just how special I was.
Finally, about another week later, I managed to causally ask Jackie just how many people had applied for the position. Her answer was: two. Me and one other person. Just one other person. Makes sense now, how my crappy review and then new and slightly improved review were able to be picked so easily.
So that was the epic tale of how I became a reviewer at Literary Escapism. Hopefully my reviewing skills have vastly improved in the past year. And before I end this rant, I’m going to tell you one of the many morals you could take from this story. That moral being, if you run around like a headless chicken, the right thing might just fall on your head. Or perhaps it’s just better to your friends, even if you think they’re wrong.
Jackie here, and while I am laughing loud enough to make the monkey come in here and ask “what’s funny mama?”, I have to say that if Casey had sucked as much as she claims she did, she wouldn’t have gotten the job. This all took place during the last month of my pregnancy with Psy – a time when I was hormonal, uncomfortable, hot, irritable and really hoping this kid would come 2 weeks early like his brother. This means Casey took criticism from a supremely hormonal, irritable pregnant woman, and she did it with grace which is worth more than any fantastic reviewer.