Didn’t Make The Cut: When Plan B Doesn’t Work

Didn't Make The Cut, Writing


For those who are unfamiliar, I was laid off from my job earlier this month. Before you think or say, “I’m sorry…,” please know that I don’t view being unemployed as a time to be sad or feel sorry for myself. Life happens, so this is nothing more than an opportunity to prepare for the next challenge ahead.

In terms of what I want to do next, I want to get paid to write. It’s a dream that I’m working on turning into a reality.

In an effort to hone my craft, I recently submitted a piece for a literary magazine’s open call for submissions. The topic was about starting over and reinventing yourself.  Since this aligned perfectly with what I’m currently going through, I was hopeful of this opportunity to get published.

Today, I received the following email from the editors:

Dear Lee, 

Thank you for submitting to (publication redacted). Although we will not be publishing your work at this time and are sorry to disappoint you, please be assured that your submission was read carefully by our trained editors.

Our reasons for not accepting particular submissions are varied and often have more to do with the shape of our recent acquisitions and upcoming issues than with the quality of writing we receive. The format of your submission is more geared toward a blog platform, though we encourage you to submit again in the future.

Thank you again for the opportunity to consider your work, and we regret any delay in our response to you. We hope you’ll continue to read and submit to (publication redacted), as each issue will have a new theme to explore.

Never stop writing.

– The Editors

Ok. That didn’t go as I had hoped, but life goes on.

I read over my submission again and there are areas where I can improve upon the next time around. However, rather than just filing it away, I figured I’d share it here.

Below is a version that I copy and pasted from the original submission.  The formatting is a little strange, so here’s a link to a properly formatted PDF version of When Plan B Doesn’t Work.

Any and all feedback is welcomed. Enjoy.

When Plan B Doesn’t Work

by Lee Rankin

Lee Rankin’s To Do List




Graduate high school.


Wrapped that up in 1999.

Graduate college.


After four years at an elite liberal arts school, I got my walking papers in May 2003.

Plan A: Take on the world!


With a college degree in hand, the world was mine to be had.  I could do anything, go anywhere and be whoever I wanted to be!  Life was going to be great!

Find full-time job.

Nine months after graduation… done.

It took a while, but I finally landed a full-time gig in March 2004!

Granted, I had to commute between Providence, RI and Boston, MA, and my starting salary wasn’t much, but this was just part of my journey.

After two and a half years of sleeping in the same room where I watched cartoons as a kid, and putting thousands of miles on my car, it was time for something new.

Time to spread my wings.  Take a risk.  Forge my own path.  Time for Plan B.

In October 2006, I quit my job and moved to Atlanta, GA.

Plan B: Fresh start in Atlanta, GA!


New city.  New challenges.  The world will be mine!

Find full-time job.

After another nine months…. done.

Ok, again, it took way longer than expected but life takes time.  Just another leg of my journey.  March on!

Landed a fancy corporate marketing job in June 2007.  I got to travel, received corporate perks and was quickly on my way to being promoted.  Yes!  My hard work was paying off.

Then, boom!  Economy crashes.  No more perks.  No promotion.  No job.  Position eliminated as of January 1, 2009.

Time to reset Plan B.

Find full-time job.

After two and a half months…. done.

Cut my average job search down to two and a half months.  Sign of progress.Started as a temp in another fancy corporate marketing department, and after four months, it became permanent.  On my way again.


After four and a half years of hard work, mistakes, successes and failures, I get called into the conference room.

“Lee, your position has been eliminated.”

Ok.  Cool.  Been here before.  Thank you for the opportunity.

Honestly, it wasn’t a surprise.  I liked my co-workers, but the job had become a struggle.  I had started exploring other professional opportunities anyways, so the timing was more ironic than anything else.  However, losing my job wasn’t part of my plan.  I was going to leave when I was ready.

But life happened without my permission.  Position eliminated as of November 1, 2013.

Find full-time job.


Mid-November 2013. Still working on my long-term plan, but the first thing I’m doing is getting rid of this To Do List!


If there is anything I’ve learned, it’s that no matter how much you prepare and plan, life does not fit into a neatly organized To Do List. Too many things happen. Sometimes you have to flip the list over and write on the back where there are no lines. You can scribble, sketch or graffiti – your choice. Your rules.

Another nugget of wisdom that I’ve sifted from the sand is that every person’s journey is different. And that’s OK.

Accepting the “And that’s OK” part is where I’ve struggled. It’s illogical and non-sequential. I was taught that one plus one equals two, and A is followed by B, so naturally I appreciate when things follow a pattern or have discernible order. Following this train of thought, it only makes sense that when you put in a lot of hard work, success will follow. This formula works for others, so it should also work for you. It’s only fair, right?

Well, I do believe this to be true, but I’ve also learned that success is relative to each individual, and it’s rarely achieved exactly when you want it to. And the concept of fairness is nothing more than a cruel joke that someone made up a long time ago and, unfortunately, it never got old.

After accepting that life can mimic the path of a wobbly toddler chasing a squirrel, rather than becoming a hopeless pessimist, I’ve learned to temper and better establish my short-term expectations. Life is more of a marathon than a sprint – just stay on course and keep moving forward.

All that self-motivation stuff being said, looking back at my Plan A and Plan B, it’s clear that they didn’t work. At least not to my liking. If I took the time to reflect further, I’m sure there are dozens of reasons why I didn’t succeed:

Maybe I should have worked harder?

Worked smarter?

Maybe I just wasn’t good enough at what I was doing?

All possibly true. Not ruling anything out. But that’s all in the past now. Back to my marathon.

The next question I should ask myself is, Lee, where are you going to find your next job?

This is a great question. However, that last thing I want to do is just find a job. I’ve done that before and I somehow keep finding myself back here: Jobless.

One of my favorite axioms, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, is resonating pretty strongly with me now. When I look at my To Do List, I start to see signs of insanity. I’ve been doing the same thing over and over. And guess what, I’ve been getting the same result.

Look for job. Find job. Leave job.

Look for job. Find job. Lose job.

Look for job. Find job. Lose job.

I’m at the point where I cannot bring myself to start the same process over again. I just can’t. Obviously this presents larger issues, such as how will I buy food, pay bills, etc. I don’t have an abundance of resources, so I need to find a way to earn money sooner than later because savings do expire.

Now, since I know what I do not want to do, the immediate follow up question is, what do I want to do?

I want to write. Just like I’m doing now. I want to share my thoughts It’s liberating, yet scary. It’s personal and private, but I crave attention from people who I don’t know and most likely will never meet. Writing is like a two-way mirror where I let you see me, but I can’t see you. I can only hope that you like what you see.

This is my Plan C. I’m going to write. I’m not naïve enough to believe that publishing a few blog posts or drafting a screenplay will lead to instant income. This is an endeavor I’ll have to take on and figure out through lots of trial and error. But why not try something new? It just might work.

I look at it this way: If Plan C fails, my resume is up to date – so insanity is always an option.

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