Year2022

Write Thank-You Notes

Writing personal thank-you notes remains an effective way to stand out in the workplace. Thank-you notes send several messages, all good. They demonstrate professionalism, appreciation, and good manners. After an interview, they reinforce your communication skills and interest. These notes strengthen relationships with potential employers, clients, and colleagues. Thank-you notes document gratitude.

Write Notes Regularly

When do we write thank-you notes? Often. At a minimum, write thank-you notes (1) after participating in interviews; (2) after receiving gifts; (3) to acknowledge favors (such as referrals); and (4) to thank colleagues for work well done.  Thank-you notes acknowledge the value of what someone else did for you and the team.

We have warmer feelings towards – and are more predisposed to help again – those who thank us with personal notes. After participating in a forestry job fair, I received a thoughtful note from the president of the local Society of American Foresters student chapter. Would I be willing to support their efforts again? You bet.

Choose Your Paper

Use good judgment in choosing the ‘raw material’ for your notes. After a job interview, write thank-you notes on personal letterhead or simple note cards. To thank someone for a gift, an informational interview or support, the note can be written on company letterhead or on personal or plain notepaper.

However, if you interview for a job at ACME Wildlife Services while working for the Timber Journal, avoid writing thank-you notes on Timber Journal letterhead. On the other hand, if you interview an ACME Wildlife executive for an article you are writing for the Timber Journal, it’s entirely appropriate to use Timber Journal letterhead. [The point may seem obvious, but people make the mistake…]

Be Prepared

Often, I travel with a few note cards, envelopes, and stamps to write thank-you notes from my hotel room or on an airplane. For friends or family, I have used hotel letterhead and, in a pinch, cut my own postcards from the individual sized cereal boxes available at some breakfast bars. [They work Gr-r-reat!]

Worthy thank-you notes are direct, timely, accurate, and signed.  They explicitly say, “thank you” and specify the source of your gratitude. They are written promptly and spell accurately the name of the recipient. And they include your signature; an unsigned thank-you note is a glorified form letter. 

Email?

In certain situations (and increasingly), thank-you emails suffice. This is true for longstanding relationships, when your note includes attachments or links discussed in the interview, when firms view email as a preferred form of communication or where your contacts with an individual all use email. 

Conclusion

My parents taught me that people read and appreciate thank-you notes. Time and time again, my experiences have validated this lesson. Writing personal notes in a timely manner will distinguish you and reinforce business and personal relationships throughout your career. 

Brooks Writes Stories: How Did It Go in 2021?

In mid-2017, I started submitting and tracking my fiction writing and posted updates in 20182019 and 2020. How did it go in 2021?

  • In 2021, I submitted versions and revisions of 24 stories 106 times to 50 different outlets. This included one contest.
  • Between January 1 and December 31, 2021, I received 114 rejections (including 20 for stories submitted in 2020) and five acceptances (4.2%). I also withdrew two stories.
  • Several rejections included brief comments from editors, some encouraging and others less so. A few examples:
    • “While this… was not chosen… I thought it was well written, stark and true…”
    • “…feels more like a punch line, than a short story.”
    • “…it felt arresting to read and didn’t full cohere.”
    • “I like how you take this parent-child relationship and make it larger than life.”
    • “This is ripe, fascinating.”

Stories Published in 2021

Six stories were published (one accepted in 2020) by six different venues in 2021.

On June 1stSpank the Carp published “Anxiety Afterglow” (275 words, 2 minute read). Inspired by an actual, unknown seatmate who aggressively, compulsively picked her face during a flight in South America.  I wrote the first draft in my journal during the flight. The story speaks to the importance and power of having a purpose, regardless our state of mind. 

On June 22ndFlash Fiction Magazine published “Grady Shelton” (671 words, 3 minute read). Rejected and revised 15 times before finding a home, this story was a consistent near miss and, based on the comments and feedback, has been my most popular story to date.

On June 30thMystery Tribune published “Short Books for My Cellmate” (924 words, 4 minute read). Two cellmates, passing time with books and with each other, maneuver to get the upper hand.

On July 14th101 Words published “Know Your Customer” (101 words, 1 minute read). The editor wrote, “I love the surprise, I almost screamed Oh, good Lord! This is really well crafted.”

On August 10thThe RavensPerch published “Drive the Road” (575 words, 3 minute read). Inspired by a report about a hijacked truck, the backstory came from my personal interest in the Vietnam War (my Dad is a vet). This is a case where I loved/believed in/wanted this one more than the editors: it notched 19 rejections (and revisions) before finding a home as a much better story. Thanks, TRP!

On November 10thMason Street Blog published “Putt for Show” (335 words, 2 minute read). A mix of golf, real estate schemes and The Sopranos.

Please enjoy the stories and thank you for reading!