This post was written by guest blogger Wendy McClure.
Perhaps you weren’t aware that in addition to my day job and my weblog and column stints, I’ve just started working part-time for the MacArthur Foundation here in Chicago. I know it sounds like a big deal, but really, all I do is sit here in the office with a telephone headset calling people off a list and reading from a script:
“Hello, ________? This is the MacArthur Foundation. How are you today?* Great! Our records show that it’s been ___ years since your last exceptional literary work, and we were just wondering when you were going to, you know, write something else really outstanding, because in light of that article in Crain’s Chicago Business suggesting we make adjustments to increase our effectiveness by adopting a more disciplined, businesslike approach, we thought we’d just check in every other day or so to make sure you’re busy, and that you’re working on something good, and that it’s not just about, say, cooking lobsters, though that whole business about ‘turning up the heat under you‘ sure is vivid, ha ha, isn’t it, Genius, ha ha!”
*Norman Manea always just hangs up at this point.
Like most telephone solicitation jobs, it’s not easy. Inevitably Jorie Graham starts hissing about her Pulitzer, and Thomas Pynchon is always like, “how you did get this number!?” and I think even Cormac McCarthy uses Caller ID now. The hours are nice and flexible, though. People tend to be home during the day.