Re-reading Friday’s post it occurs to me that it could be read as an indictment of my peers and a pat on the back for myself. That certainly wasn’t the intention.
It was provoked, as stated, by some frustration I felt over being given a badly-written document to “fix up.” I was frustrated first of all by the badness of the writing, but since the author does not claim to be a writer I really shouldn’t complain. Perhaps I’m so far in these woods that I expect everyone to be a lumberjack. What really frustrates me, however, was the notion that this dog needs only minimal grooming when in fact it needs a complete rewrite.
This latter frustration hits me on two levels. I resent that some people think editing a sow’s ear into a silk purse is fast and easy. By dismissing it as such, it belittles my effort. More frustrating is that many people don’t recognize the sow’s ear for what it is. Forget about not writing well, what are we to do with these people who don’t even read well? (I’m not talking about people who have literacy problems — I’m talking about people who have critical judgement problems.)
That said, I’m happy to report (if you haven’t noticed already) that I tend to overstate things. In retrospect, while much of what I get to “fix up” is bad, it isn’t all that bad, and the vast majority of it does not come from writers. And if I really think about it, those who tell me it should just take a few minutes to fix up are probably engaging in wishful thinking more than project management. I’m sure it’s often a matter of them not wanting to burden me or whatever, so they slip it to me labelled “easy” and then dive for cover once I’ve accepted it.
Still, the bad writing comments stand, but they really do focus on the bottom wrung writers — those who are either very new to the trade, or simply don’t get it. Or both. The majority of writers I know understand that to wear the hat you have to put in more effort that you do with a letter to Mom or an email to your parole officer. Except for the marketing/PR writers part — most of them suck, and I oughta know because I am one. ;-p