Friday, 13 December 2013

A Small Complaint

I’m not overly fussed about etiquette.  By virtue of being an American in the UK, I’m automatically rude before I open my mouth (but then, I do have an expressive face.)  I don’t take umbrage at spelling and punctuation mistakes in social media (unless it strikes me as funny, then God help you).  My phone conversations often begin without greeting and my guests are expected to raid the fridge.

However.  I’m starting to get annoyed.

I am a person who values . . . now can you guess what a writer might value?  Her thesaurus, yes.  Any other suggestions?  A room of her own.  Okay, all Ph.D. students are prohibited from answering for a moment.  You.  Yes, you, the woman in the back who slept in her clothes and has that look of impatience on her face.  (She’s probably American.)

Communication.  Exactly.

I communicate now to the purveyors of a writer’s work.  When you solicit us.  When you head hunt a writer.  When you want us to spread the word about what you’re doing, you have entered into an etiquette contract with us.

For all the editors who ask us to write something for your publication, the polite thing is to email a response when we ask for clarification or parameters, or to put forward topic suggestions.  The organisers who want your production reviewed, please say yes or no when we ask for an interview rather than pretend we didn’t.  The directors who want your play featured, please keep us in the loop when you change the rehearsal venue or time or both.  The groups who charge double digits for your competitions, announce your short list, because the losers financed that shindig. 
Life can be rough enough without breaching etiquette.  In the bigger scheme of things, of war and poverty, abuse and bigotry, this is a small complaint.  But the way we treat each other in the mundane exchanges can sometimes make or break us. 

Being a writer does not mean I’m a voice activated word generator.  If you want me to write for you, communicate with me.  The rude American thanks you.

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