Motion Sickness on the rollercoaster of writing life. January 10, 2013Posted by mattfarmer in writing.
Tags: copywriting, day job, Matthew Farmer, self-esteem
I thought long and hard about writing this here, but then I thought- this is a blog about me as a writer. I am an author of fiction, I am a professional writer with clients whom I write for. But all of this is my writing experience, which is why I started this blog. I won’t mention names, since they are irrelevant when it comes to my experience, or my impact of their actions upon me. But those of you close to me, will know whassup. Yes, I just used the word wassup.
In one week I have crashed, and then risen, in regards to what people think of me as a writer. With the support of family and friends, and wife, I chose to become a full-time professional writer. The thing I had been quietly telling people I was good at, I chose to actually tell the world- I am good at this. Writing is my passion, it is what I am here to do.
This decision was scary. The past mumblemumble months have been scary. 2013 is looking to be awesome, but, it hasn’t happened yet, so it is still scary. Having less than $100 to your name but still having to write STUFF, can be a very scary, soul-squeezing thing to do.
So, this week I was following up on a job. I have had some good leads of late, creative people who have a job, and need to hire a writer. It’s an agency model, but in miniature. I like it. A friend tells me I would be perfect to work in an agency, so this is, kind of, like training wheels. I think. Hmm, metaphor went a little screwy there.
Anyway, the project lead is unavailable, and in my puppy-dog-like keenness to get the job completed and make client happy, I rang him directly to obtain some feedback about a revision he had asked for.
Now, before I go any further, let me just say to those playing at home – this is not a wise idea. You only ever liaise with the person who hired you. If someone comes to you and says- I need help with a current job, you only talk to them. If a client hires you directly, you speak to them. Never cut out the middle man. But, I was keen to impress. Let me continue.
It was a brief conversation, however, as the gentleman said to me- “In short, I don’t like it. Either the brief you were given was not very clear, or you’re not very good at what you do.”
I ended that conversation quickly, assuring the client that I would speak with my guy when he comes back from break, and we will fix whatever, something, thanks, bye. That statement ripped the guts from me. I was left utterly stunned and literally shaking. No one, ever, has told me ‘to my face’, or ear, in this case, that I was possibly not good at what I do.
I took a HUGE leap of faith and risk to be a freelance writer because I had finally nutted up the courage in myself to say- you know what, I am good enough for this. And then suddenly, in … eight words, I am floored. My whole world is suddenly in chaos. What do I do? I’m not good as a writer? Does this mean I will have to go back to retail? Customer Service? Work my way up through office admin to a level of middle management and be a slave wage office monkey and OH MY GOD! (No offense intended to those who are in the white-collar work force. This is my brain going nuts, not my actual opinion.)
The first thing I did was ring my dad. Hey, I may be (mature age) years old, but still, I had to ring my dad. I then found a couple of people online and went- this guy just said stuff! I then had to go for a walk, which rid me of the jitters, but I still had that hole in my heart. I then had a slouch on the couch with my wife, and started to feel better.
All of these wonderful people reassured me that I am a good writer, and it is possibly something to do with the brief, or the client might not be clear about what they want, and when they saw what they DIDN’T want, lashed out at the person who produced it, without possibly taking time to think of constructive feedback, etc etc By later that evening, while not back on the horse, I was tentatively leading it around the corral and waiting for the right time to possibly get back in the saddle while no one was watching.
The next day dawns upon my world. I am still doing work, finishing up the edit and proofreading of a book, re-writing an awesome ‘about us’ page for a client, who is linking his staff to super heroes. I like it. I keep the basic structure of the piece, get some grammar into it, put some ‘superhero words’, like POW and FLASH and .. stuff, into it. I then wring my hands for an hour or so because of what was said the day before.
NO! I will get this out there, I cannot stop everything I am doing, because clients have asked me to do work! So I send it to this gentleman. And his response was – “I love it! Great work! It has my ideas but reads like velvet!”
Bad experiences will happen, I have been told this, and I have experienced this. But, looking at the statistics, more people say I am a good writer than those who say I am not. But isn’t it interesting how easily someone can be affected by negative opinions of themselves?
As I write this, I still have a lot of work lining up to do. I am still a little shaken, and will be for a few weeks, until I get back into that rhythm of writing, back into my comfort zone. The job for the person who thinks I might not be very good, is still to be reviewed and completed. So, I am not ‘there’, yet. But, I am hardier than I have been in the past. I am closer to the ‘fuck you I so am totes an awesome writer’.