Saturday, October 27, 2007

Step aside

I can't believe it's nearly 8 a.m. The sky is just beginning to lighten and the morning breeze finally woke after a stuffy night. It's going to be a thin autumn day.

Want to know what people think of your work? Tell them you're considering stepping aside and letting someone else do your job. That's what I did yesterday after a week of defending two years as editor of the ham club's newsletter. During the past two years I have had very few comments about what I did -- right or wrong -- and even fewer questions about what to put between the pages. I have been grilled and cross questioned, checked up on, and asked the same questions again and again as though I were suspected of wrong doing or just not doing my job. That's what happens when a new administration comes on board, especially when there's new blood on the field. I'm tired of it being mine.

The only thing that's funny about this situation is having one of the board members email me privately to say he felt I was a little upset. What is there to be upset about? Not a day passes (at least this past week) that I'm on the hot seat and none of my answers are taken as truth but have to be checked out and verified, which is unnecessary considering the questions wouldn't have been asked if he'd taken the time to read back issues of the newsletter. It's in there. (I told him that on one occasion.) He in turn chastised me for telling him to do his research and read what's available before asking his questions and that I should have been forthcoming when he asked his questions. I did answer his questions, several times in fact, but he evidently didn't read my answers or didn't believe what I wrote. Upset? Me? Why would I be upset after being treated like an idiot child who has been caught stealing?

I can't believe all of this started because I didn't want to be singled out during the Xmas party and have the club pay the $6 or $8 for my dinner as thanks for the job I do and have done for two years. Honestly, if they want to honor me, all they need do is tell me what they like and don't like about the newsletter I've put out. Feedback, I want feedback. I don't want a coffee cup or a piece of paper that says I did the job. I want to know what people think, even if it's negative, because that way I can make the newsletter better.

I mentioned stepping down to my inquisitor and he promptly backed off and said I had a "talent" for the newsletter then told me he's the kind of person who jumps in and gets things done and that's why he's been hounding me all week, but someone else started it. I also mentioned stepping aside in January to one of the people who has promised me a series of articles since he approached me in March. He said he doesn't understand why because the newsletter is so much better than it was pre-Jackie. Pretty high praise coming from someone I have dogged for months to write the article he asked me about. And it's the first time I have heard what people (other than the two guys who keep telling me how much they like the newsletter) think about what I've done. One guy told me he didn't read the newsletter much before I took over as editor but now he reads it every month. I'm not sure if it's because he likes what I've done and how I've changed things or because he started reading because he knows me.

I still haven't decided whether or not to step aside, but it would certainly simplify my life. I do the job as a volunteer so I don't get paid. They couldn't afford me anyway. Even at a base rate of $500 a month (and I put in 20-30 hours a month), they're getting a bargain, since they only pay for printing ($70-90) and stamps ($8-9). At my regular rate, the newsletter would cost them at least $1300 a month for the hours I work, and that time doesn't even include picking up the newsletter, putting on stamps, labels, and mailing disks, and sending it out, or the time I spend culling addresses from a database of local hams to send extra copies of the newsletter in hopes they will become members. I'm a professional writer and editor -- the first the ham club has ever had as newsletter editor -- and I had to audition and provide a resume of qualifications for a job no one wanted and the previous editor could give away. He got stuck with it because the editor before him just up and quit.

The road has been rocky and full of pot holes and I have put a lot of hard work into making the newsletter something people look forward to reading. Am I upset? Yes -- and no. But I do keep wondering why I want to hang onto something so unappreciated and taken for granted when I could use the time to do my own writing, writing that pays. Guess I have to think about that one before I make the final decision to step aside.

That is all. Disperse.

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