I’ve been on the hunt for editorial positions for about two months now. In that time, I’ve sent out approximately 50 applications, consisting of highly-personalized cover letters, resumes, and even short clips written on request to demonstrate my writing abilities.
This work has required me to refine my professional sense of self by thinking long and hard about what it is that I want to write about, and why. For each and every position I apply for, I try to present a clear picture of who I am, and why my interests and skills make the perfect candidate for whatever job description sits in front of me.
While I am used to the frustration of not hearing back from potential employers, I am not at all used to the newfound feeling of professional, existential confusion that accompanies trying to provide such a clear and convincing picture of oneself over, and over again.
The truth is that I am not 100 percent sure what it is that I want to devote my life to as a writer. Sure, there are topics and beats that interest me more than others. I could even argue, truthfully, that my portfolio reflects a certain penchant for writing about these things. But as the lack of replies to my applications suggest, I’m finding it difficult to persuasively convince anyone that my purpose is well-defined enough to prove I would be a valuable source of content on any single topic.
What is one to do when they are interested in just about everything?
My recent struggle has made me question something about myself which I always tended to view as a strength. Who wants to hire someone who dabbles in the many, but is an expert in not even the few?
What interests me, and what compels me to write, is the overwhelming diversity of stories I’ve come across in my years. I write because it allows me to adventure, to dig, and to see the world through the lens of a perpetual explorer. The career I envision for myself consists of searching far and wide for the most compelling stories I can find, and developing my voice in order to deliver those stories with the empathetic persuasion necessary to make people understand their worth.
But this thesis hardly fits into a cover letter.
The question then, is how to proceed. I can acknowledge that even the most successful authors and journalists held positions that did not satisfy their highest-order professional desires. I’m also not so naive to think that I can begin my career with a position that will satisfy mine. But in the process of trying to land even a foot-in-the-door at a place where I can begin exploring the unique path my writing will take, I’m finding it difficult to present this hopeless romanticism as a positive, valuable quality.
The bigger question, concerning which things I will eventually concentrate my career on, is a difficult one that can only be answered through the work. But the more immediate question is proving just as difficult to answer: who am I, and what do I want to write about?