Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Wonderful, Whimsical, And Worrisome World Of Writing

I use Grammarly's plagiarism checker online because copying someone's work gets you verbally flayed in a Grumpy Cat meme.

Before I start this post, let me give a shout-out to MLGF (my lighter gray/grey friend) Jim Sullivan who has recently made the jump into the world of writing. He has always been a great writer, and now people can read his works on a national level. Jim works for the Discover Magazine, checking the facts of articles sent in. Yesterday, he had one of his own articles published there -- a wonderful piece about introducing robotics into the classroom. So go read the story and subscribe to the magazine.

So here we are, talking about the world of writing. I don't normally talk about the mechanics or opinions of it. But I'm getting something special from someone (see the first line at the top) for making a post about it here, so I'm not going to complain about it.

I've been a part of the writing world for many years, and I've seen the good side and the bad side of it.

The good side: pays the bills, lets you meet new people, lets you connect with professionals where they are sending you email messages to work with their client/company (yes, it has happened).

The bad side: dealing with people who don't believe you can make money from writing, clients who overwork their writers for little pay, writers who diss clients on a major scale.

People in the writing world can be affected by the good side and the bad side of it in different ways. Some keep an open perspective about it, realizing it is just like any other profession as they deal with it in a professional manner.

Then there are people who have become bitter about it. If the person is a writer, they hate the clients, editors and other writers who they believe are making their lives nuts. If they are a client, they believe writers are cocky and belligerent. If the person isn't either, they can't understand why a person would want to become a writer when they should get a "real job."

I'm going to talk about the bad side of writing, since the good side basically speaks for itself. Every instance that I'm going to talk about will deal with an actual experience I've gone through or witnessed. So let's get started:

So is it a "real job?"

I always find this question incredibly funny when I am asked about it. It's like walking into an office building with hundreds of people typing away on their computers filling out reports and documents as you walk up to each person and ask if the words they are typing on the screen would be considered "real work" all because they are typing words on a screen.

 I can imagine those six little words can be incredibly offensive to some writers. It's like nobody is taking their job seriously. Me? I laugh about it and give an honest answer.

"Yes, writing is a real job if you look at it as getting money from a business to produce a service that they benefit from. I get a W2 form every year. I pay taxes on the money I make. I pay the bills, buy groceries and stare at it in my purse wondering if I have enough to purchase those delicious soft cookies at the convenience store at the end of the block."

Questions posed by truly curious people doesn't affect me in any way. It's those comments made by ignorant people where they say "get a real job" or "go out and work" that can be a bit annoying and have me thinking the words in the photo below.

What difference would it make if I worked from home or from an office? I'm still writing words on a screen and you are benefiting from it. I am writing the product descriptions that you will read to purchase that item you need in your daily life. I am writing the web page for a business so they can advertise their services to consumers so THEY can make a living. I am writing the article for people to gain a greater understanding of products and services so they can make informed decisions about their life

Yes, it is a real job that everyone needs.

Why should I pay top dollar for words that I could write myself?

Some clients... some... treat writers like immigrant workers in the fields. They don't want to pay a fair rate to the worker because they feel like that person should be grateful for being given the job that they could do themselves.


Come off it. Seriously, I work through a company. They receive THOUSANDS of article orders  -- sometimes in a single day -- from serious business clients who know it would take them forever to write that many words on the screen at a proficient level. And those clients may be working with THOUSANDS of businesses that need web pages, articles, blogs, product descriptions, white pages, technical papers and other writing services.

Writer don't have to work for peanuts because, just like you, they have a right to live in a nice place and drive in a nice car and eat nice food as they watch their favorite programs on a nice television. It's a job. It's a career. And just like you expect to be paid a fair salary for the work that you do, writers (gasp!) expect the same thing.

Why don't clients know what they want and are so rude to writers?

Then there comes the self-righteous writer. They have their heads up their asses an inflated ego have dealt with people not taking their jobs seriously that they are on the defensive every time they speak/work with a client. This behavior gets them into serious trouble.

Recently, a writer on the company forums was talking about how a client was treating them about an assignment. The client had changed their mind about how they wanted the article to be written. It happens. It is allowed. The writer didn't understand the client's instructions and decided to "inform" the client about the lack of understanding over the assignment. Then the writer went on to "inform" the client that their website had a lot to be desired, how the client should work better to display the correct information on the web page, and that the writer didn't really care about the client in any way except to place another dollar into their bank account. Then the writer talked about going to the client's Yelp page to see if there were any complaints and threatening to post something there.

The writer posted word-for-word what he wrote to the client on the forum page. I read it. I can honestly say that the writer was the epitome of the photo above. It was the wrong thing to do. He overstepped his bounds and commonsense. The company I work for did the right thing. They suspended him for a time to investigate the problem, then fired him.

Writers still need to understand that what they do is a business. While they have the right to be treated and paid fairly, they must also treat their clients fairly. It is all a business, and business can be good for everyone when everybody gives mutual respect. Period. Leave the inflated egos at the door.

So I've talked, and skimmed, over the good and bad sides of writing. It is wonderful. It is whimsical. And it can be worrisome. But it is like every other profession out there. It is a job some people love and some people hate. Yet it is needed.


  1. Yep, Jim's a good writer ...and a fun read.
    Not only that but his voice might even be a big asset, too.
    Imagine listening to him read his own material [well, except for some of what's on his blog ;-)]

    You're no slouch yourself ...that didn't sound right.

    I guess what I mean overall is I admire folks who can earn a living writing.

    1. I could imagine Jim reading his own material. But it wouldn't be the same to actually HEAR him be funny while reading it, which would probably be a laugh riot.

  2. Thanks for the link-love, MDGF (My Darker Grey/Gray Friend.) Yes, writing is a job. Anything wherein you get paid by someone for providing goods or services is a job - period. And it is one of the most capitalistic and free enterprise jobs there is. Either someone buys your writing or they don't. If they don't, too bad. Move on to the next prospect. The government isn't going to subsidize us :-)

    (Unless you know something I don't. If so, turn me on to it, please. I'm just as willing to be a lazy SOB as the next guy is; maybe even more so.)

    Bad stuff? Sure, it's out there. But nothing compares to the thrill of finding out your writing has impressed someone enough to be published. Well, OK, maybe getting the check is more thrilling; it depends. You know what I mean, though. Both are another way of being told you are loved, and not much beats that!

    1. See! Who said you can't write less than 1200 words and still make your point? ;-)

      I don't think writers will every be free of such a stigma that it isn't "real work." Who knows why? Only thing we can do is keep on keeping on to make a living at it.

  3. Oh, how I envy the ability to write WELL. I recently had to write an op-ed piece for my anthropology class (which is about primates in captivity). It was hard. We had to voice our own opinion, which is new to me. I had to re-write it to bring my 85 to a 93 (which I was happy with). I applaud all of you who can write and actually earn a living by doing so. Oh, and I have a term paper coming up soon....I'll call ya! (kidding)

    1. I'm just happy to write okay! And I haven't written a term paper since high school, although I did do very well on it (it was about endangered wolf species).


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