fter knocking Mr. Templer’s socks off during our phone interview with my mask of never-fail charisma, he requested a sample of my work.
A sample. Did this guy realize I had absolutely no training or experience? I was 18 years old, barely home from seminary. How had I gotten myself into this? Copywriter — yeah, sure. A friend of a friend had recommended me, said I was a great writer, super creative.
Maybe. But just because I loved writing and managed to publish a story in some magazine didn’t mean I was cut out for this work. Copywriting was a science. It wasn’t about how broad your vocabulary was.
But Mr. Templer liked my sample and was ready to assign me a real project.
My nerves took off with a gallop. This was crazy. A professional marketing guy was ready to pay me money for a few lines of text. Help!
He e-mailed me the instructions. I read it. I trembled. I read it again.
By the time I stepped into the shower that night, I could repeat every word of his email backward and forward. The project was for an air-quality inspection company. What did I know about air quality? What could I tell people who suspected there was mold in their environment that would convince them to hire this company to run an inspection? I was a teenager. I could share a lot of beautiful philosophies about life. Air-quality inspection?
Showers are often harbingers of magic, and this one didn’t fail me. When I stepped out of the steamy bathroom, I had an entire ad series ready in my mind’s eye.
I hit the keyboard, typing frantically. We’d start by identifying the problem — show visuals of mysterious symptoms a family is facing. Maybe give the family a name, follow the family’s journey. Yes, that would be so powerful — getting personal.
Forty minutes later, I’d filled up an entire Word document. I’d included several headline options and design suggestions. I drafted body text for a series of five ads, making sure that one ad threaded into the next but was still able to be understood if it stood on its own, so readers who weren’t following the series would still pick up the message. “Three second attention span,” Mr. Templer had told me. “We have to snag people’s attention during that tiny snip of time.”
I reread my work, pleased. The material was clear. It was clever yet simple, professional while playing on the human factor. Impressive.
Instead of dashing off my work, I decided to sleep on it. Maybe I was too excited, and there was really something glaringly amateur about my work? I’d wake up and kick myself for being such an ignoramus.
Not so. When I woke up in the morning and reread the material, I liked it even more. With a prayer on my lips, I sent it off.
Waiting is the worst thing that could happen to a person’s confidence. Suddenly, my excitement evaporated. It was such a dumb idea, oh my goodness, I was so embarrassed. Why hadn’t I consulted with a professional copywriter first, done more research, checked out what other companies did?
I skipped breakfast and sat down to prepare for school. I had classes to teach, and my lessons weren’t ready.
Before heading out to school, I checked my e-mail one last time. Mr. Templer had replied.
Fingers trembling, I opened the e-mail. There was one word there.
I exhaled. Whoa.
A moment later another e-mail came in.
I grabbed my coat and cell phone. “Hi?” I said nervously.
He started babbling, going on and on about how happy he was, what incredible talent I had. I was glad we weren’t speaking face to face so he couldn’t see me blush.
“I’m putting you in touch with one of our graphic designers,” he said, “a very talented girl. You’ll enjoy working with her.”
“Okay,” I said. I didn’t trust myself to say more. This was a miracle. “What’s her name?” I asked.
There was a brief pause. Then he answered, “Her name is Ahuva Klein.”
To be continued…
(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 757)
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