Thursday, July 22, 2010

A short, kind of process-y, nonfiction intrusion

So this is going to be short, because I'm going to go do fiction in a few minutes, because I've been annoyed to find that I have finally played a fiction writer's game with myself and managed to find a way to make fiction impossible for me to do. That annoys me not because I have always felt superior to fiction writers who weird themselves out, but because I have simply never done so before and really didn't need to learn how to start.

But in a short aside on the nonfiction (pays-the-rent) front, I'd just like to note something to those people who give assignments from those of us who write the assignments.

Basically. Writers who write for a living are excited to get work. Sometimes we're even excited by things that look like they're going to be really hard and hurt our brains. We're weird that way and, at least in my case, if I didn't love it, I wouldn't be doing it.

But. If you give a writer writing work and request the writer do the following 5 things on the project (Things 1 through 5) and the writer sends back Things 1 through 5 and maybe Things 6 through 10 because they looked helpful or professional or logical or could be discarded if unwanted, that's fine. No reason to pat the writer on the head. No need to say thank you for being so thorough and professional. That's fine. The writer was simply moved to go the extra step, or believed in the project, or likes to give more value for the invoice. Writer doesn't need patting.

What isn't fine is if the writer is given an assignment to do Things 1 through 5, and comes back with 1 through 5 done, and done well, and accompanied by Things 6 through 10 as extras but still things that took time/research/writing/whatever, it is not fine to then say nothing more than "Where are Things 11 through 15?"

And if the writer follows up with an email that reads "Following up" in the subject line and goes on to offer whatever may be needed to complete the project past what she was hired to do, it is not nice to say "I've been struggling with it for two days, what a pain" without clarifying if this is the writer's fault or something weird going on with the project, about which the writer had no clue. Writers being creative people, we will assume the worst.

... That said, there's something really nice about getting past the point of worrying endlessly "Will the client want to work with me again? Will he? Will he? Will he?" and starting to think, "Do I want to work with the client again? Hmmm."

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