Do you have a friend, relative or colleague who puts in more time pestering you to do their work than they ever would if they’d just do it themselves? Well, I do! Following is a rant I posted a couple of years ago, but I’ve found it to be as true today as it was at the time I posted it.
I need to blow off a little steam, so I hope you’ll indulge me.
I created this blog to help emerging and newbie writers find other writers like themselves, and locate writing contests and opportunities that will help to hone their skills. I don’t ask anything in return…except that you take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and post a reply to keep me encouraged.
This is just something I want to do…to share what I know. I was a newbie writer once. I didn’t know where to go, how to get started, or who to ask. So now that I have a few connections and a little experience under my belt, I wanted to post some “self-help” pages for others.
That being said, THIS SITE IS NOT FOR SLACKERS. It is for writers who are willing to pull themselves up by the bootstraps, sit their butt in a chair, and go to work honing their gift. It’s for writers who are willing to search out publishers, editors and/or agents until they find the right one for them. I provide the links, YOU do the detective work. In short, this site is for WORKING WRITERS.
What has me so vexed? Well, let me tell you! Can we talk????
I received a telephone call from a personal friend who is also a writer — the type of call every hard-working person dreads, because they know they’re going to be asked to do something for a person who could just as easily do it for themselves.
Here’s how it went. Of course, the names have been changed (or deleted) to protect the innocent!
THEM: Hey, girl! I was just wondering what you’ve posted on your blog lately. I’m finally ready to get back into my writing.
ME: Well…I’ve posted lots of things. Just go to The ShadesWriter and look over the site. I’m positive you’ll find something that fits you.
THEM: Yeah, but what kinds of things have you posted? Got any contests for love stories?
ME: Yeah, I remember posting a few romance competitions. Just go to the website.
THEM: Oh yeah? What were the names of the contests?
ME: I don’t remember the specific names. Just go to the website. In the meantime, I think I’ll add a category for romance so this type will be easier to find.
THEM: You don’t remember the names? Really? And you posted them? How odd. Well, how many words were they looking for?
ME: I don’t know. Go to the website and see what you can find.
THEM: Hmmm…don’t know how many words, either? [emits a loud, disbelieving snort.] Well, what was the deadline?
ME: [trying not to grind my teeth] I DON’T KNOW! I really don’t. Go to the website.
THEM: What did you say that address was?
ME: www.RitaHubbard.com, and click on TheShadesWriter. Maybe you should write it down.
THEM: I don’t need to. It’s all up here. [I assume she’s tapping her temple.]
ME: Okay, but you know…one wrong letter or number and–
THEM: [interrupting] I’ll remember. So you can’t give me any contest names off the top of your head?
ME: Not names, but I remember genres–
THEM: [interrupting again] Genres? Are you trying to sound proper? What’s a genre?
ME: A genre is the category your work falls into, like Romance, Screenwriting, Western, Gothic–
THEM: [interrupting yet again] Oh yeah, I knew that. You don’t have to explain anything that simple to me. So what are some of the competitions?
ME: [emitting a long, deep sigh] Well, I just posted one for Playwrights. It’s called “The Funniest Play on Earth,” or something like that.
THEM: I don’t have any funny plays.
ME: Well, I remember posting one for any play, as long as it’s original.
THEM: I don’t have any original stuff.
ME: You know, you really need to do this yourself. Just go to the website and browse at your leisure–
THEM: [interrupting a fourth time. This is becoming a habit!] Do I have to type my manuscript, or can I write in long-hand?
ME: Errrr…I don’t know any sponsor that accepts long-hand. Everything has to be typed these days.
ME: I’m pretty sure of it.
THEM: But I don’t have any typing paper at home.
ME: Then just type your entry on your computer and save it on a CD or Flash Drive.
THEM: Flash Drive? Who can afford that? Not everybody has it made like you do.
ME: But I don’t have it made–
THEM: [emitting long, disbelieving sort]
ME: Well anyway, save it, then take it to someplace like Kinko’s and have it printed out.
THEM: Kinko’s??? But don’t they charge?
ME: EVERYBODY charges these days.
THEM: Well, of course. Naturally. But I don’t have the internet at home, so I can’t go online. Can’t you just tell me what you’ve posted?
ME: No…it will be easier if you look through the site yourself. Why don’t you go to the library and use one of their computers? They let you use the internet for free.
THEM: I don’t have a way to the library. Plus, I don’t know your website address.
ME: www.RitaHubbard.com. You really ought to write it down.
THEM: Why would I need to, when I don’t have a way to the library in the first place?
ME: Can’t you catch the bus?
THEM: I would have to walk three blocks to the bus stop.
ME: [sighing. The noose is, after all, tightening around my neck…] Well, I’ve got to come out your way anyway. Want me to pick you up and take you to the library?
THEM: Well, how would I get home?
ME: [losing the self-control I’m so proud of and snarling like a rabid dog with a flesh-picked bone] How would I know??? Don’t you have three daughters and two sons-in-law? Can’t one of them pick you up?
THEM: I don’t like to ask people to do stuff for me. You know that!
ME: Well, sorry; I’m fresh out of ideas.
THEM: Don’t you have the internet at your house?
ME: [thinking really, really fast, because I see where this is leading. She plans to come to my house to do her work so she can use my computer, my printer, my ink, my paper…AND block up my time having me read over her stuff so I can tell her where to send it!!!]
[I think and think, and finally spit out the answer that works every time!]
Yes, but I’m having maintenance done on my computer right now, so it’s out of commission.
THEM: Maintenance? Sounds like road work or something? What is it, exactly? Well…never mind; can’t you just print a few contests out and bring them to my house?
ME: [deflated and defeated, because I really am a nice person, after all] Okay, sure. I’ll be by in about an hour. Will you be home?
THEM: Yes. I don’t go anywhere. I don’t have a way to get anywhere. People just don’t know about my life. People like you, who have it made, have no idea what people like me have to go through everyday. Of course I’ll be here. Where else would I be? And how would I get there? Really, you can be so thoughtless sometimes…
So I get off the phone and log onto my blog, and go through every post I’ve written (and believe me, there are dozens of them!) so I can find a competition for my friend. My esophagus bobs and twitches. It is backed up with bitter bile as I concede that I have once again been tricked into doing someone else’s work.
Why won’t people do their own work? Why??? After all, I have provided information and links; I’ve provided contact persons, deadlines and word lengths. All this friend–or any other writer, for that matter, has to do is log on and look over the website. But I couldn’t even get her to do that. In the end, I do it for her.
I wanted to “Just say no,” but for some reason, the words wouldn’t come out. Where the heck is Mrs. Bush when you need her?
So I grudgingly locate and print out three contest summaries and head to my writer-friend’s house…and guess what? She’s not even home when I get there!
What lesson did I learn from all this???
a. Don’t, under any circumstances, answer the telephone ever again!
b. Delete my writer’s blog so no one will ask me anything about it ever again.
c. Tell my friend to go jump in the lake…then offer her a ride if she doesn’t have a way to get there.
d. Tell her and people like her to “Do Your Own Damn Work!”
Best Answer: D: “Tell ‘Em to Do Their Own Damn Work!”
Best wishes and happy writing!
PS – Thanks for indulging me!