Monday, August 17, 2009

Writing about writing...

...is, sadly, more interesting to me than the actual act of writing at the moment.

I do have some assignments that need to be done. Unfortunately, all are for the client is who rather cavalier about paying. We have discussed this issue, and the results have been, at best, inconclusive.

There were times when having a slow-pay client wasn't as unpleasant as it is today. I had others who were pretty speedy with the remuneration; they kept me afloat while I waited for these yobs to fork over the spondulix. Nowadays, the others are gone -- out of business, doing all work in-house or otherwise -- and the waiting gets intolerable, or worse. As it did during the past few hellish months.

But that's not the real issue on my mind right now. What bugs me is that I am singularly unenthusiastic about the articles I have agreed to write. For one reason or another, dredging up enthusiasm for them just isn't on.

That can be dealt with in two ways: You can just bash out the copy, hoping the editor won't notice or will be so desperate for words that they will push it on through. Or, you can do what I seem to do, which is to fret like crazy over the words, spending far too much time vetting your copy to make sure no one will know that you are totally unimpressed with the subject at hand.

Option Two is of course good for the work. Any traces of disgust, boredom or lack of attention to detail are weeded out, replaced with something more suitable. Then, it's time to make sure that the replacement words are still honest about the subject itself.

This happens to be a painful experience. It takes time, as I said; more than the eventual check will cover. It can cause a certain amount of inner-directed anger as well in which one beats oneself over the head for a) writing such swill in the first place and b) for giving a damn when it's possible no one else will.

It works, anyway. One editor was thrilled by the articles I sent in when I was just beginning to revive myself after the lowest point in my recent travails. Between them, they consumed more of my time than any four stories I enjoy doing, most of it spent rewriting and polishing. And polishing the polished bits again. If I hadn't been hurting for coin I would have turned both down.

Still, it's necessary to work, and writing these uninteresting (to me) pieces is not the worst thing that can happen. So I'm not really complaining. Much, anyway.

Mainly, it's another case of untrained writer never having been taught how to race through crap material and leave the impression that he cared without spending an ungodly amount of time at the task.

I'll smile when the checks arrive, though. Which had better be pretty soon.

And if/when I start getting back into the kinds of writing I genuinely enjoy, I will drop these hack articles like the proverbial hot potato. I keep reminding myself of that. It is one of the few things that helps me stay sane (or what passes for "sane" in my world) these days.

5 comments:

deb said...

I am fortunate to be able to add "your return shipping will be covered by me if you pay in advance for the work". A definite plus and most of my clients will include a check with the work when they ship it to me. A couple don't and I've sort of figured out just how long it will take for the check to actually arrive. The school system is the worst client. It can take up to a couple months and is totally dependent on if the person in charge even remembers to submit my bill for payment.

BUT, what irks me even more is those clients who wish to save money on any shipping because they live close enough to deliver and pick up themselves. For some reason they think I should have no problem if they are late, early, or even forget to show up.

Anyway, I guess that's why it's called work rather than play. We are fortunate, within our different career choices, to have times that we do enjoy our work.

What dawned on me the other day is that, in many ways, your avocation is more like my vocation and my avocation is your work.

John0 Juanderlust said...

Thuggery never loses its persuasiveness. Just saying. All one needs is a name and address. It's an age old cure for slow pay.

class-factotum said...

Jerks.

BTW, I googled you and you are hot stuff, Mister.

aka mag said...

Ditto class-factotum's research. Although that was quite a while ago. I assume that you still are!

John0 Juanderlust said...

OH. You guys did not know that? Scrib is The Man---just no good with ball bat knee cap diplomacy, and that is frustrating. He's certainly got the creds and right to employ it. But no, too nice and worried about consequences. And he won't let me try my hand at diplomacy on his behalf. geez. And in this day and age when Chicago politics are considered normal and decent. The time is right.
Mind if I talk about you in 3rd person on your own blog?