Sheesh

21 Jan

So remember the freelance article I’m doing on the changes to employment services in BC?  Hmmm.  I’m most definitely less gung ho on the editor there now.  In the latest edits,  she has changed things so dramatically that was has happened basically is that I provided the story idea, I did the research and she did most of the writing.  It is in first person too so it sounds like these are all my words.  I know how editing works and that things must be torn apart and put back together and all sorts and that is what we were doing – she had some great and necessary advice and I followed. 

Because the issue I’m writing about is so complex and tricky to understand, it had to be super super clear.  My drafts weren’t and I realize that – lots of repetition, still some confusion and etc.  I get that.  I expect and want to be told how to work with it.

I don’t expect to have most of my phrasing, words and ideas changed to hers.  I didn’t want a huge anti-government slant (or pro gov’t) but that’s what it is.  She’s a good writer so it all sounds good but it is not mine.  I told her she had some great sentences in there, that her writing is great but that it’s not my writing, not the story I wanted to tell.  I want my concerns about what the government is doing in there but what I don’t want is it all written in such a way that it so blatantly points in that direction.  Sigh.

I think she simply found my writing too sloppy, too repetitive and not comprehensible to a reader who knows nothing about the system in BC.  Fair enough.  And I think we ran out of time so she jumped in and re-wrote it herself.

What remains of me in the piece – and I’m still trying to negotiate – is not much at all.  Yet it will have my name on it.  I’ve asked her to add her name to it as well – since it’s more her piece than mine now.  I don’t say that bitterly – it’s just the reality.

Our loving relationship of almost instant turnaround e-mails seems to have disappeared.  She gave me the new draft on Friday morning (three days late) and said she needs all the changes by Monday.  Interesting, since it involves calling folks who don’t work on the weekends.  I told her I’d do what I could. I told her I didn’t like that it is all her words and made several suggestions. I told her I don’t like the slant.  She’s not so receptive anymore.

Uh well, I’ll do what she wants, get a meagre cheque for it and my name on a story.  But the thing is, I’m not so excited for anyone to even see that story anymore.  Might not even show it to anyone.

Yeah, writers are oversensitive about their work, of course.  But the thing was, I wasn’t here, I was thrilled to have edits, thrilled to have direction.  But to use a poor analogy, I’m not thrilled to have her kick me out of the drivers’ seat and actually out of the car all together.

Live and learn, people.  Live and learn.

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11 Responses to “Sheesh”

  1. Michelle January 21, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    It’s no different than someone accepting someone’s painting in a gallery, then adding dabs of paint ‘here and there’ in an effort to “make it better” and eventually it being a completely different painting. No gallery in their right mind would do something like that. Your art is in your writing; her complete rewrite is her painting over your canvas.

    • jobsearchinginvancouver January 21, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

      Indeed. Although with journalistic pieces, as I say I expect and want editing and need it. What I don`t want is to be edited out of existence.

  2. Cassandra January 21, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    Ah, I can relate, fellow wordsmith! Several years ago I was contracted to conduct a comprehensive study and produced an exhaustive 40 page report full of recommendations. Upon submitting said report to my supervisor, he had commented “if I could write like that, I would be a millionaire” to which I replied “I DO write like that and I am NOT a millionaire.” When he presented said report to the investors and stakeholders, HE PUT HIS NAME ON IT. My name evaporated completely; all of the credit went to him, which included both financial and recognition kickbacks and a more lucrative position with another company. I never heard from him again.

    • jobsearchinginvancouver January 21, 2012 at 8:29 pm #

      wow, that’s awful! The thing is, she is going to put my name on this piece and I’ve written to her a few times asking her to include her name as well. She is either busy or avoiding me. Aaarth.

  3. Joe Segal January 21, 2012 at 10:30 pm #

    I don’t understand ‘I want my concerns about what the govt. is doing in there but what I don’t want is it all written in such a way that it so blatantly points in that direction.’ Is that not a contradiction? Is she not just strengthening your points? Why not be blatantly honest?

    • jobsearchinginvancouver January 22, 2012 at 12:17 am #

      She has completely changed my story – no longer my words, sentences or phrases and I wrote it in the first person, so it sounds like it is all from me but most of it is now from her. The angle of the story is just one of the issues. She took out my voice and my story, it is now her story. And she’s annoyingly now ignoring my e-mails. This is not as simple as my not wanting to be straightforward or any of that. it isn’t my story anymore, i can’t be any more straightforward than that in explaining it.

      • Joe Segal January 22, 2012 at 1:11 am #

        But what the heck. She’s paying you for the article. So let her edit it till the cows come home. I get your point but why let her upset you?

  4. Schnee January 22, 2012 at 12:09 am #

    I’m aghast, both at this ridiculous editing-out-of-existence thing that has happened to you Karen, and to Cassandra’s experience! Utterly brutal! Some people have no shame. Damn, I wanted to put yet another exclamation mark, but had used up my quota. More than, in fact.

  5. Mike January 23, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    So, here is your story, that you pitched and they want to change the idea so it matches their agenda. That must feel awful. Is this the norm??

    And if the story just has your name, it’s more impressive (which may mean you get more work) but then maybe it means you get less work because you’re viewed as having a political agenda. Tough call!

    Ick, ick.

    When you’re writing more for love than money, but the love is stolen, what’s left?

    • jobsearchinginvancouver January 24, 2012 at 2:21 am #

      So true, Michael, so true. The editor has given me a tiny bit more leeway.
      And it is apparently the norm so I think she is rather flabbergasted at my being concerned. Uh well.

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