It Baffles Me
Written by
Linda Spear
November 2009
Written by
Linda Spear
November 2009
I work in a field that makes me happier than the days I spent on a sleigh, in deep snow, sliding down steep hills and thinking about the hot chocolate that waited for me and my friends at home. My field is communications in which I've written feature articles for major magazines, The New York Times, corporate financial quarterlies and annual reports for a major pharmaceutical and ghosted books for doctors who don't have time to do the writing. Loved every moment of it. Can you imagine getting to do the thing you wanted most of all since you were a child? I have. It's great. And I'm at the pivotal point of my career where my first novel, "I Know You by Heart," will be published in December 2009. Bliss. That's until people who are also involved in the same business deliberately tried to take my progress down for whatever reason they felt so entitled. In the business I'm in, there are some very creepy people who hide in the corners of the publishing business and seem to lay in wait, peep into other's business, in order to make life hard for those of us who just want to do our thing and be happy with our lives. I've met them and I've dealt with them. And I've moved on. Over all the years that I attempted to publish my first novel, I was rejected in so many ways, that I wish I had made a scrapbook of the notes and letters. Some were kind; some people even offered suggestions. Others simply wrote a big fat "NO" on the front of the query letter and some never got back to me at all. But I knew that this was the deal. Publishing for a newbie in fiction is practically impossible. It took four years and hundreds of these rejections Now I can love it from the point of view of a writer who knows that those who read it will love it since its all about every family, during any crisis: The whole journey is at once, mindblowing and healing. And now I'm in the process of constructing my new fiction called, "A Promise in the Wind," that will be out in 2010. More Bliss. But I've met with crisis and dispicable behavior in other sectors of the business, but that's just the way it is. Some people will never be happy to see another's success, particularly when their own work is not going well. I've met the enemy and they are "not" ours; they just mean people. But haven't we all met them? The most important thing I've learned from all the difficulty they bring about, is that there is no journey that is not fraught with disparagement, danger and fear. If we stay the course, the ones who wish failure on us will eventaully fade away and no longer matter. If that's your experience, please write and tell me about it. I can empathize, and tell you what your future holdsfor you, IFyou want your prize bad enough. Then all of it turns to BLISS.....

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  • Rachel Thompson

    Linda, what a beautiful post. First off, congrats on getting published! I look forward to reading your book.

    For me, the detractors in my life came the second I entered the corporate arena. I sort of wandered along happily doing my own thing as a new pharmaceutical rep and because I loved training so much when I went through it, I decided I desperately wanted to become a sales trainer for my company. It was a way out of my hometown (Sacramento) and would fulfill my dream of living on the east coast (New Jersey). As a young, single woman, I so wanted to make this happen on my own.

    So I got the promotion, sold my condo, and relocated across the country.I was so excited! Within about a week however, I quickly realized I had been fed to the sharks. Being a young, single woman on her own became a liability for me--I was sexually harassed by a group of district managers while on a training trip with the reps at a hotel gym ("why don't you get up there and shake your ass too?" one said to me. "Is that included as part of the training package?") and when I reported this to my FEMALE manager, her response was this: "I wish I was cute enough to have someone say that to me. No one wants to see me shake my ass. You should be flattered." and of course no action was taken.

    Another incident occurred when I met and married my husband and made the mistake of inviting two of my coworker "friends" out to Napa where we got married. One coworker is still a friend, all these seventeen years later (a female, of course!). The male, however, picked up on one of my California girlfriends at my wedding. This became a problem because he was engaged to a gal back in New Jersey in the same department where we all worked. It put me in the middle, a place I did not want to be, as my girlfriend in California really liked him and had no idea he was engaged.

    Regardless, let's just say, it got ugly. I stayed out of it as best I could (with both girlfriends and him relentlessly questioning me) but my working relationship with him deteriotated to the point of him physically threatening me. I let it go the first time, thinking maybe he was just overstressed. But the second time (literally, this big man standing over me saying "if you tell so and so, such and such--I will kill you,") I reported him.

    Well, I was the one labeled "difficult" at this point. Unbelievable. The powers that be in human resources tried to get me to go on a working trip with this guy to "resolve our differences." Puh-leeze. I put in for a transfer to another department and got the heck out of there.

    The sad thing was that I loved loved loved training. I was good at it, and I enjoyed it. I wrote my own presentations, worked with some good people. but most of all loved the interaction with the reps from all over the country. But because of these silly circumstances, I ended up in another department (advertising) which I absolutely hated.

    Within the year, I tired of the cold winters and a job I didn't enjoy and I put in for a lateral transfer, back to just being a rep "somewhere west of the rockies." I simply wanted out. Thankfully we ended up here, in Southern California, in beautiful Orange County, less than a mile from the ocean. So I guess it all happens for a reason.

    I recently heard that the male coworker that was engaged to the female coworker--they actually got married. He, of course, cheated on her throughout their miserable seven or so years together. But it was long enough for her to get half of his stock options from a previous company that did quite well and made her rich. She divorced him and then met another man, sweet and wonderful, who cherished her and took care of her until her death last year of pancreatic cancer. A cautionary tale, perhaps?

    I myself quit working as a rep in '04. It just got to be too much, being a mom and working more than full-time. I had won many awards, achieved many business and personal goals, but because I was a woman, well, I was skipped over for many things. The company I worked for this whole time became quite, shall we say, negative toward working mothers. I even had a female manager at the end (divorced, no kids). In fact, there is a class-action gender-harassment lawsuit pending, and I can honestly say from my experience, for good reason.

    This long tale is why I say in my profile that I'm a "recovering pharmaceutical rep." It's a long process.

    So I hope that gives you some insight :)