07 Jun

A fellow-writer on LinkedIn was rightly playing hell yesterday about a client with the interpersonal skills of a menopausal warthog.

Her quote for a 2,000-word test piece (which is like making an actor perform 'Hamlet' in its entirety as an audition) was rejected with a quite spectacular piece of condescension.

"2000 words is a school project-length piece..."

One day, hopefully, someone will remake Falling Down but with the central character a freelance writer interacting with his market. 

Scribes will flock to public screenings the way hippies once flocked to Woodstock.

I consoled her with something I've been meaning to get off my chest for a while and I thought I'd park it here for posterity. 

"I don't have any glib solutions, Abigail, but it may help your blood pressure if you at least know where this attitude comes from.

While it's not true of every client, there is limited respect for what professional writers do because everyone writes.

It might be shopping lists, thank-you emails after Christmas or an old school essay entitled 'What I did on my holidays' but everyone writes. So when they are faced with someone who writes professionally, they are underwhelmed, probably without realising it in many cases.

Compare us with someone like an orthodontist, for example. He or she might give you an eye-watering quote for setting your wisdom teeth straight but we'd all be very polite about it if we had to decline. "It's more than I can afford; I'm really sorry..."

What no orthodontist will ever hear is, "HOW MUCH??!! It's an easy job; shouldn't take you more than an hour..."

There's a reverence for orthodontists, because so few people actually know what the job entails.

But everyone writes.

Hand a copy of 'Great Expectations' to a lot of people and they might make polite noises as they flick though it, but there's a little voice in their soul muttering, "Well...how hard can it be?"

Because everyone writes. Sort of."   


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