It’s the 1st Wednesday of 2021 and that means a very special first. It is the first IWSG Day of 2021, the day when all us insecure writers get together to compare notes and prepare for the impending apocalypse.
No not the end of the world in some nuclear winter. I mean the moment you decide to submit something – to an editor, to a client, to a family member who you know isn’t even going to read it but you still agonize over every word because you cannot help yourself.
It feels like the end of the world.
For 2021, I decided to leave my comfy full-time job at the library that (okay) wasn’t so comfy because of Covid. I have embarked on a mix of substitute hours (meaning whenever they need me to fill in, if they need me to fill in) and writing again.
Writing for pay. Again.
After a half day shift today (Monday), I spent some time submitting extremely simple, cheap, throwaway pieces. I realized – this is irrational but true – I don’t even care about the money they will hopefully pay me, not at the moment. My emotions are like Can’t Even Right Now. It’s that fear, the fear of rejection, the fear of being rejected by someone whose terrible grammar will show they probably don’t know what they are talking about anyway.
The terrible fear of being rejected by someone who knows exactly why you are Not a Good Fit For Them.
We have all been there. We have all gotten the kindly-worded, soul-searing rejection that goes something like: this is really well-written, but it’s not a good fit for us at this time. As a copywriter, the rejections can be far more honest and on point, with “helpful advice” that may not be nicely worded but may be worth hearing anyway.
Rejections or “requests to revise” from paying clients often read like this:
1. Did you even read the brief?
2. Why would I pay anyone for this?
3. I’m going to warn the rest of the world to avoid your writing, because it is that bad. (Okay, no one has ever said THAT last one to me, but that’s what my emotions hear sometimes.)
It is especially funny – later I laugh – when someone says something truly cruel (what feels cruel without facial expressions) and then ends by saying something like you are a good writer. I look forward to working with you again … once you make these extensive edits that essentially mean rewriting the whole thing. Inside, I’m thinking why don’t you just write it yourself, rather than paying me to do it for you? Outside, I say – no problem. I’ll get right on it. (And next time you write for them, you just start from their square one, because now you know. It is that easy when people are That Precise – which is probably the point.)
Yes, writing is hard. It is also funny. Funny and hard.
Hope everyone has a safe 2021.