There’s nothing quite like ending the week with abject failure poised to slap you across the face. I’ve always considered myself a passable writer, sometimes even good. My spelling and grammar
isn’t aren’t* great, but there are people for that. I’ve always felt I knew how to turn a phrase, to sound passionate, to entertain readers through my writing. Sometimes I can be a little light on the details, but if it’s facts you want I can do that too… I just prefer to write how I speak, and I speak with a fair amount of passion and tend to let the details take care of themselves.
The problem is, I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for over five years now, and in all that time I’ve never had someone to look at my work and tell me what’s wrong with it, how it could be better. Everyone has their own style, but just because you have your own style doesn’t mean your style couldn’t be better. Of course, you also need to learn how to adapt to other publication’s styles, which is something else I’ve not really had much experience with, since I’ve pretty much written for just the one site. For that site, all I have to worry about is whether the writing is entertaining, and whether it gets the message across. No tone, no style, no whilst vs. while… simple, yet in hindsight it doesn’t appear to be serving me very well.
I’ve been allowed to basically write how I want to write for a long time – perhaps too long. I’ve been tainted by my own way of thinking, perhaps I’m even stuck in my ways, and I don’t know how to get out of it. Saying that, I have written for the odd other site here and there along the way and I haven’t gotten much feedback there either. Generally I hear no complaints, although I was told once that I liked ellipses a bit too much. Who knew. The higher up the chain I go the less feedback I seem to get as well, which is the most annoying thing. I want to write for these people, get my name up there with the other greats, and yet they won’t tell me whether or not I’m good enough to be there.
In one case, an Editor I submitted work too was tweeting about the virtues of giving feedback and helping writers over-come their shortcomings. This happened mere hours after I had just submitted a piece of work to him – having seen this, I decided to email in again and ask for some specific feedback, because the previous piece I’d submitted to them had been edited quite a lot and I wasn’t really told why. I didn’t get any feedback that time either. In all fairness though, for the piece after that I was given some specific feedback on how to write a certain style of interview transcription. Apparently that piece was “not bad”.
As for what sparked today’s musings… I got given a brief; I failed to meet that brief. I was given feedback on how to fix it. Whilst working on it, I tried to explain why I interpreted (wrongly, admittedly) the brief the way I did, and in doing so I somehow managed to convince the editor that I was incompetent and incapable of the task I had been set. I thought that by explaining where I was coming from, why I wrote it the way I did initially, then maybe he’d understand me more as a writer which would help him help me a bit better. Apparently I was wrong… will have to wait and see how that one plays out, but if it doesn’t work I have a feeling that was my last chance with that site. All the times previously the work I’ve submitted has been edited a lot. Again, with little to no feedback apart from today.
I think the reason I’m having difficultly writing for this site is down the editor having a specific vision for how he wants all of the content on his site to read, and it’s a style I’m really not used to. I have to respect that, I have to try and adapt to that… but I don’t appreciate the fact that he doesn’t seem to want to invest the time in helping me. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t need to – there are plenty of other writers who are better than me who he can hire. I could argue that the brief itself could have been better but ultimately, I’m the one providing a service.
This is all sounding very pathetic, and I apologize. It’s also the only thing I’ve felt like blogging about in nearly two months. Twitter is the bane of my blog’s existence.