Ask Brad: I Just Got Fired. What Do I Do?

You can start by lightening the hell up.

This is the first edition of Ask Brad, advice from the mediocre white guy in my head. Email your questions for Brad about negotiating rates, editor problems, or whatever’s bothering you about your freelance life to ruth@ruthwrites.org. Today, Brad gives me a pep talk.

Dear Brad,

I just got fired from my copyediting job—after logging only 17 hours. I knew I wasn’t doing great. But I had no idea how bad I was doing until my boss fired me in a Slack DM. I disclosed that I have ADHD and anxiety during our interview, but we never talked about ways that we could make reasonable accommodation for my disability. We never talked about my how I was doing overall at all. She just pointed out my random mistakes in our Slack chat. I believe the world needs more Black lady editors, and this was supposed to be my stepping stone into the wonderful world of editing.

What do I do, now?

— Ruth, freelance writer and aspiring editor

Hey Ruth,

Wait… what? Only 17 hours?!?!?! You must have really sucked balls! I don’t mean to be harsh but, damn, that has to be some kind of record.

OK, you want my advice? Lighten the hell up. That is Rule of Brad numero uno. Seriously, though, who the fuck cares? First of all, it’s statistically unlikely that you are the worst copyeditor ever. I mean, you write and copyedit this newsletter, don’t you? Also, since I live in your head, I know you always file really clean copy.

You’re probably not even as bad as some of the copyeditors who still have their jobs. That’s just how the world works. A shit ton of people who aren’t particularly stellar at their jobs get to keep them. Sadly, you weren’t one of them in this case. Good news is that you can continue to strive for mediocrity elsewhere, lol.

Also, a lot of people get promoted to the level of their incompetence. At least that’s how I explain why my boss is such a stupid asshat. The man is literally the Peter Principle in action—or the “Petie” Principle, as he prefers to be called. (What grown man goes by “Petie”?) Your former boss isn’t exactly a paragon of best practices herself. I mean, no middle manager worth her salt would fire a minority employee with mental problems without at least a performance review. That’s like Diversity and Inclusion 101.

Bottom line is shit happens and you can only do what you can. Totally reminds me of the time I tried out for the cheerleading squad. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Me? Cheerleading? But, hey, I like throwing people in the air. Anyway, Coach let me on the team even though I didn’t know a pike from a hurdler. And I’ll admit it, I wasn’t great. One time I did a throw wrong and this girl, Barbara, broke her pinkie.

I started watching YouTube videos, doing extra practice with our Labradoodle… In the end, none of it mattered. This millage didn’t go through and the school district cut the sports and rec budget. As the weakest link—and the link that broke Barb’s pinkie—I got cut first. Never cheerled—wait, is it “cheerled” or “cheered”?—again.

The point here isn’t that I never fulfilled my dream of tossing hotties up in the air. It’s that there are always circumstances beyond our control. Who knows why this shit happened? Who cares? If you really want to be an editor, there’s nothing stopping you. Okay, maaaaaaybe systemic racism. Yeah, I know about systemic racism. My company gives time off for diversity training so I max it out.

Irregardless, all you can do now is try again. You think Donald Trump ever woulda become president if he’d given up after his first campaign? Not a chance. Just don’t act like he did when he got fired and you’ll be golden.

Want more Brad in your life? Wanna see my winning pitches for publications like Nature, Time, Bon Appetit, BBC Travel, and Thrillist and hear directly from assigning editors why they bought them?