Claiming that the news I received a few weeks ago sent me into a grief cycle is beyond melodramatic, so let’s just say I went through a modified version of the stages of grief. And now that I’ve worked my way through to the end, I’m ready to share. Come along with me on my journey:
On the evening of Sunday, January 17th, I sent my editor at MTV an email telling him my article about Winnie-the-Pooh
was ready for him to post on Monday. I got an automatic reply stating January 14th was his last day at MTV News. Uhhhhh … WHAT?!?!
Since he hadn’t given me a heads up, I figured that meant it was sudden, which suggested he was fired. So again – WHAT?!? And not to be selfish, but what did this mean for me? With the editor who hired me gone, did that mean I was done, too? Surely they would just transfer me to another editor, right? But why hadn’t anyone contacted me to let me know I should report to someone new?
Besides my editor, I only had one other contact at MTV – the weekend editor who had posted some of my YALLFest articles
for me. So I sent him an email asking 1. If he could post my Pooh article for me, and 2. What the heck was going on? He immediately responded and apologized for the confusion, and gave me the contact info of a senior editor to inquire about my freelance status. So I sent the senior editor an email asking for clarification. Unfortunately, there was no immediate response from this guy, so I just sat staring at my inbox, having a mini-heart attack each time my notification dinged.
A few hours later, I got a message from my editor’s personal email account saying that MTV had essentially dismantled the entertainment team and let everyone go. Again I said WHAT?!?! but this time I added THE F*CK?!?!?!? to the end of it. In all the terrible scenarios I had come up with in my head, I never imagined the whole department had been decimated.
Then denial kicked in. Well, the department had only ‘essentially’ been dismantled. The weekend editor and the senior editor were still there. The site was still posting articles. My editor did not specifically say I was one of the ones let go. And freelancers are much cheaper than full-time employees, so maybe I would still have a job. I’d just wait until I heard from the senior editor. So I waited and waited and waited for what I was totally sure was going to be good news.
By Tuesday evening, I still hadn’t heard a word from the senior editor. Since timesheets were due on Wednesday, and I needed an editor to approve mine, I sent the senior editor my timesheet, along with another inquiry about my status. I also mentioned how much I enjoyed writing for MTV. I told him I had an interview ready to publish with NYT Bestselling author Beth Revis and award-winning Cristin Terrill (read the fun interview here
), and that I had an interview scheduled for Friday morning with Scarlett Johansson’s sister Vanessa about Vanessa directing Scarlett in an Alice in Wonderland
audiobook. Basically, I was trying to convince him to keep me on, and I honestly considered telling him I would write for free just so I could continue having exposure on the MTV site. But I stopped myself before I completely threw away my pride.
Then I waited. And waited. And waited. No response. So I ended up very embarrassedly cancelling the interview with Vanessa. I was super disappointed because 1. It would have been fun to find out more about the making of audiobooks, and 2. I would have been two degrees of separation from Scarlett freakin’ Johansson!! As my sister pointed out, that probably meant Scarlett would have read an article I’d written because it would be about both her and her sister. Gah!!!
And then I continued to wait for a response. I didn’t want to be a pain by emailing again, so I just stewed. Then payday came.
And I didn’t get paid.
Now I was furious. It was bad enough to ignore my requests for clarification about my status, and to blow off questions about what I should do with my interviews in progress, but to not pay me for the work I had already done?!? Flames! Flames on the side of my face! I imagined doing lots of unwise things via email and social media, but I didn’t want to burn any bridges. So I did a lot of ranting at the air like a crazy person, and I took a lot of deep breaths. A whole heck of a lot of deep breaths.
Then I emailed the very nice weekend editor and gave him a quick rundown of my situation, and he was super sweet and told me he’d take care of the timesheet issue right away. Fortunately, I did get paid on the next payday, so I didn’t have to pull out my big guns. Actually, I don’t have any big guns, so I’m super grateful to the weekend editor guy for taking care of the issue so quickly.
Even though I still haven’t gotten an official confirmation that my freelancing gig at MTV is over, I assume being ignored by a senior editor is a pretty good indication I no longer have a job there. So then the sadness kicked in. While I didn’t cry, I did take to my bed to sulk. I was really, really bummed. This was SUCH a perfect job for me. I got to write fun, fluffy articles about the things I love: books, movies, and TV. I got to pitch the ideas I wanted to write about. I got work on my own schedule (night owls for the win!). While it wasn’t much, I got paid for writing, which was a HUGE deal for me. I was making great contacts in the YA world. Yeah, I was definitely a sad, sad panda thinking I’d never again find a job as perfect as this one for me.
Acceptance and Hope
Finally, I got tired of wallowing in my dejection and started looking for the silver lining. As much as I enjoyed writing those silly articles, I had completely neglected my personal writing. I hadn’t written or revised a single word on any of my novels or screenplays since I started, so now I’d have time to write for me. And even though my stint at MTV was brief, it would look awesome on my resume.
And since I’ve kind of been bitten by the freelancing bug, I’ve been looking at other outlets. I won’t pursue any of them until I make some progress on my current WIP novel, but it’s nice to know there are other options out there.
I’m still not sure what went down at MTV, or why they decided to change things. And while I was bummed for myself, I feel really terrible for the full-time folks who were let go, especially my editor. I’ve been keeping an eye on the Books, TV, and Movies verticals, since those were the three I wrote for. For three weeks, they didn’t post a single article in the Books vertical, which gave me a perverse sense of satisfaction that my Pooh article was the last one posted. But then this week they did post a few, especially with the news of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child coming out. As for TV and Movies, they’ve still been posting there, but only a few per day, when it used to be several per hour. And most of the articles are of the newsy/gossipy type, so my guess is that they are fully embracing the ‘news’ aspect of the MTV News website and abandoning the other types of articles. But that’s pure speculation on my part.
If you want to catch up on any of my articles, this link
lists all of them.