Historically Speaking: Work Ethics

Posted by Rita Lorraine

Hi Everybody,
Stopping through to share some wonderful words of wisdom I discovered in an early newspaper from the year…drum roll, please1904!

So I was doing some microfiche research that took me to the year 1904, and while I marveled at that wonderful old Chattanooga newspaper and tried not to let too many astonishing articles and advertisements distract me, I found this article by writer O.S. Marden.

Now, 1904 is before my time; way, way before, so I have no clue who Marden was, or whether he was a featured writer or just an occasional contributor. All I know is, I like what he had to say, and I wanted to share it you.

The article is called, Why He Did Not Get On, and refers reasons a person’s circumstances don’t improve as expected, or why his/her business doesn’t flourish. Since writing is very definitely a business, I feel every one of these “reasons” can be applied to the aspiring writer and his/her success (or lack thereof).

And so, without further ado, here is my writing tip to you. Here is O.S. Marden’s opinion of… Why He Did Not Get On. Most of these “reasons” speak for themselves, but in several cases I just couldn’t resist, and wrote comments in brackets.

Hope you enjoy!




Why He Did Not Get On
**Please assume (for the sake of assuming) that the writer is speaking to women also.**

1. He had low ideals.
2. He did not dare to take chances.
3. He had too many irons in the fire. [doing too many things to concentrate on writing!]
4. He tried to give relatives a chance. [in the case of writing, he asks too many relatives for their input or opinions]
5. He never was a whole man at anything. [could mean he never bothered to choose a genre and stick to it.]
6. He thought a good business should run itself.
7. He was afraid to burn the bridges behind him. [how about forgetting past failures???]
8. He did not appreciate the value of appearances. [be professional at all times, including the way you present your work to publishers]
9. His rude manners drove customers from his store.
10. He loved the pipe and a story better than his work. [Let too many distractions get in the way]
11. He let gruff, indifferent clerks drive away business. [Becomes depressed and disgruntled over past failures, and it shows in current submissions]
12. He trusted incompetent friends with responsible positions. [let the wrong person “edit” his manuscript???]
13. He would not change fairly good methods for better ones. [forgot that there’s always room for improvement]
14. He did things over and over again because he lacked system. [Didn’t attend workshops; didn’t listen to what publishers/agents said about weaknesses, etc.]
15. He thought he knew all there was to know about his business. [didn’t keep abreast of what’s happening in the writing world]
16. He tried to economize by cutting down his advertising appropriation. [didn’t properly market himself]
17. He was a good, honest person, but did not do business in a business way. [It takes more than talent. You must be a professional, too.]

Good stuff, huh?

Best wishes and happy writing,

Rita Lorraine

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