Writers Do It Best: Luke Wiget

In the ‘Writers Do It Best’ series, contributors reflect on how their education and experiences as writers have uniquely prepared them for their lives outside the writing world. Today, we hear from Luke Wiget, a student in the MFA program at The New School. You can follow Luke on Twitter @godsteethandme.

bio picI am a male receptionist at a hair salon in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I sit at a too-small Ikea desk in an alcove that is best described as a display case, a section of windows that boxes out from the rest of the shop. There I feel more outside than in and am a kind of terrible advertisement for a salon with my unwashed, chest-length hair. Then again, it is Brooklyn.

All day I ask girls and some guys too if they want anything to drink. Wine, water, a beer? If the answer is wine, I say, what color? White or red is what I mean, and that usually gets a laugh, and I pour their drink and return to Twitter or half-reading some online flash fiction. I return to checking my Submittable submissions where nothing is ever In-Progress. I listen to everyone talk.

My training and near-degree, an MFA in fiction, have prepared me to be medium happy at this kind of menial job. I make some decent jokes, usually puns, and can talk books and music with clients if they want. I can say how I was really feeling this or that record. I can also explicate the hell out of each song if that’s your thing. Not every male receptionist in the world can chat Joyce, right?

What else? Why should you hire us?

Well, I don’t have other ambitions right now aside from writing, so I’ll probably stick around unless you fiddle with the schedule a whole lot. (I need my writing days to stay put.) Also, I have no other skills. I cannot fix a toilet or reroof a house. So I’ll answer your phone and mingle with the hipsters while they wait to get their baliage highlights or have the sides of their heads shaved.

I can proof your emails. I’ve even been known to draft an email from scratch and let you sign it.

And I can learn to be opinionated about anything. At the salon I’ve started to weigh in on leave-in conditioners and dry shampoos. I’ve been upselling salt sprays like I own the place.

Okay, I’m getting there, and it’s turning out that maybe this is actually all about listening. Maybe that’s all I really offer. Maybe your best MFAer is a professional listener, a listener before a writer or anything else, and that’s why you should hire him or her. It seems like, to an extent, a good writer is an empathizer—if for no other reason than that writing is hard and writing about life is difficult, because living it can be the worst. Life is traffic and broken big toes and gray hair.

The MFAer will make you feel better about how badly you feel by listening to you first, and showing you, second, that your life makes more sense than his does. He understands your hangover, your bad weeks and months, your back ache and loose teeth. He understands because he has to in order write about the tender and the terrible. And remember, his degree doesn’t work anywhere else.

(Written at work.)

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About Andrew Ladd

Andrew Ladd is the blog editor for Ploughshares, and his work also has appeared in Apalachee Review, CICADA, Memoir Journal, Paper Darts, and The Rumpus, among others. His first novel, What Ends, was the winner of the 2012 AWP Prize in the Novel, and will be published in January 2014 by New Issues Press. He grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland, and has since lived in Boston, Montreal, and London; currently he lives in Brooklyn with his wife and cat. Follow him on Twitter @agoodladd.
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One Response to Writers Do It Best: Luke Wiget

  1. Noel Rosario says:

    I worked as a manager for a large company (won’t say which one, don’t want anyone to google me), and I can say that I would have hired you if I had something like this or if you had expressed it in the interview. Sure the position would have been entry level, but entry level was good where I used to work. You would have been paid a nice salary with fairly good merit based bonuses, dealt with clients everyday and maid sure they had everything they needed. I love reading and so I would have loved to have read something like this on our “why should we hire you” section of the app (if we had one, we didn’t have one, but we did ask that question in the interview). I’m not trying to make a point here, except that I enjoyed reading this and would have strongly considered something like this if I were in the position to do so. Actually I am. To all you job seekers, whether your degree is an MFA or MBA or anything else, know that what we look for, especially at service based and client based companies, more than anything else, is not a degree, but a person. The right kind of person that could connect with our costumers and clients and put a face to the brand. I’m only speaking for myself really, and my company, but every company is different. So if you have an MFA or some other “worthless degree” just know that, any degree can sell if you sell it the right way. If I asked you how your degree prepared you for the workforce and you responded that it helped you write emails, I would have said well that’s nice, but I’m sure we can find someone that does emails well enough and other things too. If you would have said that your degree taught you to listen, empathize, sell, and connect with coworkers, customers, and clients, well, that would be something entirely different. Remember, it is the interview that matters, you can have a sparkling resume but if your interview sucks we aren’t hiring you. Sell us in the interview. I myself got promoted to management without a degree just based off the strength of my interview alone. So don’t lose hope guys, apply for the job and kill that interview!

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