Re: Drafts -- some people not clear on the concept...

Subject: Re: Drafts -- some people not clear on the concept...
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2002 18:17:24 -0700 (PDT)

--- Steven Oppenheimer <writer -at- writemaster -dot- com> wrote:
> 1. Jobs where a boss or editor grabs a draft off a desk, or off the
> network drive, before I've told them it's ready -- and then they go
> ballistic, when in fact they are looking at writing in such a rough stage
> that I was not ready to show it to anyone. Their behavior is rude,
> impulsive, and just plain dumb.

Yes, but its a fact of life in some environments. People will grab your work and
see what you're up to. I am not condoning it, just saying its not surprising.

And you won't make any friends attacking them or raising a fuss. Use a little
diplomacy. Shake it off. Forget about it. Rise above pettiness.

> 2. An inability to prioritize flaws in a draft, and -- a closely related
> problem -- an inability to see the forest for the trees. ...
> In short, I had taken their half-baked, disorganized thoughts
> about their business, and I provided a terrific FIRST DRAFT of the document
> that would serve as an excellent foundation for laters drafts, and for
> planning the running of the business itself. Then one of the businessmen
> went ballistic because I has misspelled his name, and also because a single
> technical number in the document was mistaken -- both trivial errors,
> easily corrected with a word processor.

Some people are like that. Its just the nature of any complex endeavor. People
miss the 10000 things you did right to focus on the 1 thing you did wrong. You
have to learn to take it in stride and diplomatically solve the problem. I know
it sucks, but its par for the course in any writing job.

Moreover, don't fall in love with your words or abilities. You are only as good
as your weaknesses.

> And, I am not at all sure that these errors were mine; I have yet
> to review my tape recording of the original meeting, for all I know they
> may have provided me with the wrong information in the first place. But
> even if the errors were mine, they were trivial and easily corrected. I
> have no patience for clients like this. Then again, these guys were pretty
> much amateurs, and my main mistake was not seeing that in the first place,
> and so agreeing to work for them. So far their business has gone nowhere,
> and I suspect that that is where it willl remain.

If you have no patience for customers that demand excellence, then stick to
customers than demand substandard work (and pay substandard wages.)

The fact is, people nit pick these details. And I'm sorry Steve but misspelling a
key stake holder's name is the kiss-o-death. It angers people and makes them
question your ability. Most people don't like paying somebody to misspell their


How a writer responds to criticism says a lot about their abilities. And in
general, I have found that people who cry foul that they are being unjustly
edited are the people who most need harsh editing.

> 3. A good boss -- my definition, of course -- does not mind looking at a
> very rough, crude, even sloppy first draft. The purpose is to make sure
> that the writer is not, in some sense, headed down the wrong path on the
> project. A capable reader, and a capable manager, can read for the general
> direction or sense of things when necessary, as well as reading for details
> and fine points when appropriate (generally at a later stage of a project).

I would agree with that in theory. But some people like to drill in and nit pick.
Again, if you respond to this with hostility, then they will probably keep doing

> In any event, I'm always open to constructive feedback and corrections on
> my work. But I do appreciate it when the merits of my work are
> acknowledged and appreciated alongside the necessary and inevitable
> corrections.

That's not how it works, Steve. You're not up for an academy award. You're hired
by people to do a job. And when you do LESS than is expected, there is a problem
and that needs to be corrected.

> But once again, details are so easy to correct with
> word processors, I see no reason for readers to get upset over minor,
> easily corrected errors.

Again, this sounds good in theory, but rarely holds up in practice. If the errors
are so easy to fix - then why did you make them in the first place? Don't make
those errors again and then you won't have to worry about them nitpicking.

Andrew Plato

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