ASK MARK: HOW DO YOU RECOVER FROM BEING FIRED?
Dear Mark, have you been fired? Hang on, no one really gets fired in Australia, so let me re-phrase: Have you been subtlety edged out the door via a prolonged period of mental disintegration? As we both know, it’s nothing to be ashamed of and it can happen to a writer many times in a career. What are the top five ways you can pick yourself up off the floor after such an incident, and regain your mojo?
Great question Adam, triggering, but great nonetheless.
Yes, I've been fired, a couple of times. For the most part I preemptively fired myself (it saves everyone the drama), but on a few occasions I did hang around long enough for someone else to do it for me.
The first time it happened, the imminent firing (more of a demotion than a firing) was telegraphed at the annual end of year “handing out of the Christmas hampers”. My hamper was so small (think one jar of weirdly flavoured mustard you’d never open, some crackers infused with something you’d never put on a cracker, and a half bottle of something specifically bottled to be regifted) compared to those of my colleagues (think legs of ham, bottles of French champagne and crackers infused with somethings you would put on a cracker) that noone in the room was left in any doubt as to what it meant. The demotion followed soon thereafter, and my leaving altogether soon after that. Trust me Adam, no one wants to be a Little Hamper in a room full of Big Hampers.
On the second occasion I only realised I’d been fired when the money stopped appearing in my bank account. When I asked the line producer what was going on, ie, why I was turning up to work when the money wasn’t turning up to my account, she informed me with a straight face that she and the rest of the production had just assumed I'd been “volunteering”. Yep, volunteering - like the broadcaster/production company were a couple of kids with cataracts and I was Fred Hollows. I ceased volunteering that very same day.
No matter what way it unfolds it’s never easy being fired, or demoted, or even just made to feel like you should walk - but it’s a small industry Adam, way too small to write nasty emails to your former employers (besides which they probably save them in a special folder and share them with their friends like I do), spray-paint rude words on their garage doors, or threaten to out them as conservatives.
So what do you do? Well here's my simple five step process to overcoming a firing:
1) Get angry.
2) Get bitter.
3) Get drunk.
4) Get over it.
5) Get on with it.
Don’t unfriend anyone, don't burn any bridges, don’t threaten any legal action - you got fired, so what? It happens. Who knows, it may not even have been personal - in film and TV people always don't see things the same way, so sometimes it is just better to go your separate ways, even you may not think so at the time.
In fact Adam, looking back with hindsight, there are probably few more jobs I wish I had been fired from, and maybe one or two others that I should have offered to volunteer on.