It all started when my book agent had the brilliant idea for me to write an online course on stress management.
"Great company, good return on investment," she claimed.
I had recently moved from the hustle-bustle life of New York City to the serenity of the Napa Valley of California. What better place to write a course about managing stress? I was meditating every morning, practicing my yoga regularly and enjoying long walks in the wine country--a perfect moment to expound on the benefits of reducing chronic stress in one's life.
I jumped through the first line up of hurdles--the initial application process, the course proposal and acceptance letter without much irritation. Then there was the telephone interview, the background check, and the professional references. Okay, I understand they want honest, reliable authors. Next was the request for a sample chapter and the review process. Now it begins to get onerous but I try to hang in there. With each additional step of the process, I felt my blood pressure rising. Every step closer seemed to add two more criteria to be met. Just when I began to wonder if the pressure of meeting all the arbitrary deadlines was not good for my mellow psyche, the editor revealed that the reward for getting this far into the acceptance process was to take a 12-lesson online course to prepare their authors to write the online course they already approved and reviewed. Now my patience and desire for this assignment really began to wane and my annoyance with the process was palpable.
But again my agent assured me that the company was legit and the upfront grunt work and hassle was worth the trouble. As I began to force myself through the mandatory "Boot Camp" course I realized it should have been more aptly named, "How to dumb down interesting and useful information."
Did I mention the assignments? The list of objectives, lesson by lesson breakdown, sample test questions, descriptions of pictures and graphics, additional online resources and the list goes on and on. I was definitely feeling frustrated and stressed at about this point in the process. Was writing this course good for my newfound harmony with the world? I was not convinced. I do understand the need for some level of uniformity in the courses but the cookie-cutter format they demanded left no room for creativity or writing enjoyment.
Although I did score 100 percent on all the lesson quizzes and 97 percent on the final exam, I was heavily criticized for not writing all my test questions to end with a question mark. A rebel at heart, I even wrote 100 words less on one of the lesson assignments. The fact that I was already an experienced health practitioner and writer made the tediousness of the process even more unbearable. This was a job for a technician, not anyone with passion for their topic. The possible financial reward hovering out there in the distant future was clearly not enough to sacrifice my day to day happiness. Despite my suspicion that they may still use much of my original submitted material, I decided in the end, that writing a stress management course for this company wasn't worth the stress!
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