Job Applications

I detest writing job applications. Yet here I am doing it again, after swearing never to write another one in my life. I have a perfectly good job but something inside keeps niggling away. I’m sure I could do the job that was advertised, and it is only for ten weeks. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain – experience at a higher level, more options in the future and of course that little bit more money would never go astray.

I applied for the job and didn’t get it. No-one did. Unlike some of the other applicants who threw their hat in the ring, I called the convenor for feedback. She gave me lots of useful advice, including how to structure my paragraphs to make it easier for those on the panel to find key information. The first sentence is to introduce what I will talk about, the second to state how this relates to the selection criteria and the next sentences to give detail before closing off with the impact of my work. It sounds easy but is incredibly difficult to do in half a page with several examples.

I am not a fast writer and I do overthink things. The first application took a good couple of days. Rewriting this application, I started from scratch and put my ideas into an Excel spreadsheet under each category. Just that process took two days to complete and then another day and a half to rewrite the application within the limited space provided.

The job hasn’t been readvertised, but I am ready. I have asked my boss for some feedback, and we will meet tomorrow morning to go through what I have written. No doubt there will be more changes. I have come this far, so I can go the distance. There are no guarantees that I will be successful next time, but at least I have listened to feedback and learnt some useful tips in the process. Surely, that is worth the time I have invested.


Portrait by Varosha:

I never expected that I would have a portrait painted of myself. While I have sat as an artist’s model for a life-drawing class in my late twenties, the results were only sketches, and I doubt my face was the object of interest. In any case, I never saw the finished products at the end of the session, and I’m certain they would not have survived the passing of time.

Painted portraits are quite a different proposition. They tend to be the hallmark of people with power or fame. Why would anyone paint me? I don’t hold a position of authority and the only thing I’m famous for is leaving my belongings behind. So, when the callout came from the London Writers’ Salon for subjects willing to be painted during a writing session, I thought to myself, I’m in!

Varosha is a Bristol based writer and artist. She is currently Artist in Residence with the London Writers’ Salon, and her project is called ‘The Daily Faces.’ The concept is quite simple but oh so clever. Over the period of about a month, she will paint 32 portraits of people who join the daily Writers’ Hour. These paintings will then be laid out to look like two Zoom screens. In other words, they will look just like what we see when we log in – random faces all coming together to write in silent companionship for an hour.

I didn’t know when the actual painting would take place. Then, out of the blue, I received an email from Varosha to say that she had painted me during the previous writing session and attached was a photograph of the portrait. I didn’t expect to have such a strong emotional reaction to the painting. I absolutely love it. While I look more serious than I usually am, the likeness is astounding and reflects the way I look during the writing process. I also appreciate that when I study the portrait, I see that she has captured something of the essence of who I am. All this without having met me! I feel deeply honoured to have been chosen as one of her subject.

I am glad I had no idea when Varosha was planning to paint me. I am sure vanity would have kicked in and I would have chosen a brighter lipstick and maybe even tried to strike a pose or two. I certainly would have planted a fake smile on my face to ensure I didn’t look grumpy. As it is, the portrait is an honest portrayal for which I am grateful.

I invite you look at the rest of the portraits Varosha has painted during the Writers’ Hour, at:

My young travellers

My daughter and her boyfriend are leaving for Scandinavia tomorrow. They are typical of their generation in that they love travel and adventure. The more the better is their motto.  They have scrimped and saved for a year, booking Airbnbs months in advance and paying for smaller flights as they earned their money. As seasoned travellers, they are well-organised and have a knack for finding stunning places off the tourist track. Each of their days is accounted for, but they have left enough time to be immersed in nature wherever they go.

There are certainly similarities with how I used to travel in my twenties: bags packed at the last minute, doing things on the cheap, not worrying about getting sick or having an accident on the way. I comfort myself with the knowledge that they have mobile phones and that bank transfers are almost instantaneous. Today I gave them a last-minute present; four Apple Airtags in case their luggage gets lost. These are all advantages I could never have even dreamt of in the 1980s.

I was much less adventuresome than my two jetsetters. But then, I mostly travelled on my own. On my trips I tended to visit relatives, retraced places where I had lived as a child and met up with university friends who were on similar missions. I have mostly travelled to the same five countries time and again, apart from the occasional side trip to uncharted territories. What always drew me to a place were the people I knew there. I slept on friend’s futons on the floor and enjoyed their hospitality which I returned when they visited Australia. This pattern continued for five or six years. I still stay in touch with a handful of these friends and enjoy visiting them, whenever I can manage.

My daughter has gathered friends around the globe too. Like me, she is good at keeping in touch with them. Her friends are more mobile, but it has become much easier to connect with each other. In my twenties, I was sending weekly handwritten Aerograms and had to wait a week or longer for a reply. My happiest days were when a letter or two awaited me in the letterbox. I have kept most of these correspondences and they have become treasured mementos of the past. Technology sure has speeded up communication, but I miss the handwritten letters in the mail.

The young travellers have now departed to begin the first leg of their journey. I am left with my studio filled with their belongings and a much-loved dog to look after. I will miss the long evenings playing board games, the smell of new recipes emanating from the kitchen and the quick-witted repartee between us. Yes, I will miss them, but I am also grateful that they have this opportunity to travel.

Bon voyage and a safe return!

A reflective practice

Are still looking for a way to put 2022 behind you and stay positive about what this year could be like? I have a great practice for you that won’t take up much time and bring you some clarity about what is important for you to do in 2023.

  • Take a piece of paper and rule a line down the centre, as above.
  • Put a plus sign on one side and a minus on the other.
  • List all the great things that happened last year on the plus side.
  • List all the not-so-great things on the other.
  • When you finish, peruse your list, and look for themes.
  • List these.

You should gain some clarity on what has been important to you – family, friends, bushwalking – whatever floats your boat.

Aim to have more of these in your life this year and less of the things that don’t bring you satisfaction.

Now, ask yourself, what did 2022 teach you?

Here is what I found out through this practice:

  • I have a strong need for connection.
  • My animals bring me more joy than I realise.
  • When I have forced myself out of my comfort zone the sky didn’t fall in.
  • Writing plays a central part in my life.
  • Grief has accompanied me for a very long time.
  • I am in a state of ‘divine discontent’, which will no doubt push me forward to do more of what I want from life.

What I learnt last year:

  • Small steps daily lead to success faster than the occasional burst of action.
  • Kindness matters more than we realise as does gratitude.
  • I can be imperfect and still have successes.

Thanks to the London Writers’ Salon for this great idea.

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