Curse you PowerPoint!

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Oh how you vex me.

Sure, so the boss of my boss says….”Karen, put together a couple slides on [insert name of project here].”

And because I am that kind of employee, I say, “Yes boss!”

Then I when the boss is out of earshot, I sigh. Deeply. Loudly.

Then I make motions not unlike a cat would when being shoved into a mailbox.

Then I open up a blank PowerPoint screen with the company approved slide template.

And I sigh again.

It mocks me. The blank slide mocks me.

The company approved slide template has a graphic and logo running down the left side and the bottom of each page.

This takes up valuable real estate on every slide.

In this already limited space further limited by the corporate branding, I’ve been asked, essentially, to describe the d’ĂȘtre for my department.

My powerful team and successful program that was a decade in the making by my very talented predecessor.

I’m to boil that down to a few salient bullet points, format them in the corporate way and in corporate colors.

I have to make all the bullet symbols line up. And the font on every page should match in typeface and size. If I put in a table of numbers, all the numbers should line up like obedient school children.

I haven’t even BEGUN to discuss “transitions” where you have your text come swooping in or looping out or emerging from thin air. I hate transitions. I really, really hate them.

I’m not *good* at PowerPoint. There are some people in this world who can make magic happen with the PowerPoint software. Unfortunately I am not one of these people.

One would think with my creative mind that I’d be all up and over PowerPoint. Nope. See, the times when I’ve gotten clever in the ol’ PowerPoint, I’ve received dismissive looks and suggestions for edits. My sense of humor doesn’t really translate to the rigid slide format produced by the PowerPoint software.

No. Must maintain a professional attitude. Must use a tool with SO many moving parts it could make the Pope cuss (you suppose they use PowerPoint at the Vatican?).

Must do a good job on this as I’m only sixty days into this new job. Must help them continue to think I was worth hiring.

Must make PowerPoint magic.

Oh and did I mention…this all must be done by Monday?

Goodbye to a Mentor

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I was shocked earlier today to hear the news that Stephen J. Cannell, prolific television series creator and author, has passed away from cancer.

Last year I had the chance to meet Mr. Cannell at book signing for his Shane Scully novel, “On The Grind“.

That day at my local library, I was feeling especially low about my prospects as a writer.

After a fantastic talk with details about his journey from being a dyslexic child to creator of such shows as The Rockford Files, 21 Jump Street, and The A-Team, I wanted to ask Mr. Cannell if he had any suggestions for a better way to query agents with my own writing.

I waited until the entire line had gotten their autographs and no one waited to distract, then I walked up to Mr. Cannell, a Hollywood legend by anyone’s standards, and I boldly asked him my question.

What followed was not just an answer, but an almost thirty minute long conversation in which Mr. Cannell was supportive, asked questions, gave advice, mentored, guided and encouraged me.

At the end of the conversation, when his handlers were pushing him out the door, he took out a piece of paper and wrote down a phone number. He told me to call his office to schedule a continuation to the conversation.

I was beyond geeked out that he would be so generous. I tried calling and spoke with his admin several times, but given Mr. Cannell’s crazy hectic schedule, I was never able to speak with him again. No matter, the thirty minutes he spent with me will resonate forever.

Today I’m a bit saddened as I say goodbye to an intensely creative and prolific man who is, in many ways, both hero and mentor to me.

The best way I can honor him is to just keep writing.