Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Are the planets aligned in some weird way?

Cosmically, it's been an odd few weeks, culminating with the anniversary of 9/11 .

What are the odds that Steve Irwin would die by a Stingray's barb through his heart? In Australia, there have only been three reported deaths by Stingray in the last 20 years. This guy wrangled with Cobras, Green Mambas, and Crocs!

He went up on the irresponsible meter with me, when he took his baby son in one arm, held a piece of red meat with the other and teased a Croc with the meat.

Even with that, he was a good kind of crazy. He and his wife were all about conservation, period. He was an affable, lovable chap and he died in a very strange way. I'll never forget how excited Steve would get when he found animal droppings.

He'd excitedly hold up some piece of excrement from a Komoto Dragon, get that intense look in his eyes, stare at the camera and with his thick Australian brogue he'd blurt out, "Look! POO!"

Next, comes a strange tale from the house of Anna Nicole Smith. Tell me what the odds are for a mother giving birth to a child and three days later her 20-year-old son dies in his sleep, while sitting next to her hospital bed?

The writers of Six Feet Under could not have thought up a more odd death than this one. You know, Anna Nicole is a force unto herself, and I have made plenty of jokes about her. I do my "Trim Spa Baby" commercial, where I flail my arms around, take a big sip of red wine and yell out her signature line, "It's Trim Spa Baby," while the wine spills down my chin. Well, it is amusing when you are in the mood to laugh at anything.

But I don't wish that fate on anyone, period. That's really awful and heartbreaking. How does one recover from giving birth, begin the nurturing process to the newborn, while grieving over another child's death?

These are odd deaths within the universe. There just seems to be a lot oddness going around.

With that said, I feel compelled to post about my experience with a poster from a writing board that I visit frequently. Actually, what this exchange proved to me is that I need to practice what I preach about mercy, no matter how I feel about the individual. But as you will see, I am as human as the next person.

I make no bones about my neuroses, or my anxiety--at times--when it comes to the wonderful world of writing. In being that honest about my emotions, it leaves you open to criticism and it forces others to look at their own issues surrounding the anxiety of trying to write for a living.

(The post that was on here, yesterday, will return, but I wanted to edit it a little)

It ain't for sissies.

A few weeks ago, I posted about this jerk client I encountered. Basically, I didn't stand up for myself in the first place, I feel, and establish my rates, but he also took advantage of me in a big way. It was the first time I ever took on an assignment that entailed writing a detailed White Paper.

However, that's not how my client presented the project. It was to be a 1500 word 'article' about a certain Accounts Payable topic. Anyway, it turned into a 5000 plus word project, which certainly didn't bother my client, but it bothered me.

Succinctly, I got hosed with a bad contract. Though I am mad, I'm no victim. At the same time, this guy really did know how badly he was taking advantage of me and certainly didn't care.

Well, I was so angry about this guy having me write a first draft and then he turns around and says the first draft, 'isn't what he wanted.'

It was in the middle of this awful deadline that I posted about what was going on with me. I was really pissed and the lack of sleep added to it.

I posted about it with the feelings I was having at the time. After a day or so, nobody posted back so I thought I had really freaked out too much. (don't you love neuroses?) Two people posted, one being this guy who has followed my every post since I joined this board.

Backstory: When I was working a tech writing job a few months ago, I posted about the political games taking place onsite. This guy proceeded to post and tell me how naive I am, that I must be a 'newbie' writer, and that I better call my agency, because he knew for a fact that my client was going to end up firing me.

Through his dramatic interpretation of my problems, he did offer some good information. I felt he was being sincere, so I responded rather kindly to his post, but set him straight on a few things.

Others, however, posted in my defense and sort of shut down this guy and his posts.

Anyway, he, again, read my post on the jerky client, and offered his advice. Again, he also made sure to point out that I had a previous problem with the tech writing client, and now I have a problem with this client. He offered good advice, peppered and tempered by his jabs about my lack of experience, and how I should go and do research before I post again.

When I thanked him and the other poster for responding, I added, "Well, maybe I'm whining too much, because it seems nobody else is interested in posting."

It was an anxiety-laden moment. A real knowledgeable lady, who always takes the time to answer questions from newbies, got really pissed at my reply. Rightly so, though she took it personally.

This led another guy--he left the boards in a huff over a conflict with the owner--to post a "yeah, me too" post.

It was evident that I probably exposed too much of myself on there. Anyway, the know-it-all guy, I'll call him PJW (Pompous Jerk Wad), remained very intent watching the responses and throwing in his two cents.

All others who posted to me were supportive and understood what I was going through, as they had gone through the same things as well. Some of them felt bad for me, as they knew what an exposed nerve I was at the time.

Then, PJW felt the need to respond again, after I left an update about what happened and basically let me know that everyone on the board knows I am an amateur, but he's a professional.

I skipped over it, but apparently I wasn't the only one that was bothered by his demeanor. The board moderator took him to task for denigrating any writer for being a beginner, etc.

He didn't like that reprimand, and he posted some sullen response to her. Since that time, he hasn't posted on that thread, period. Not that I have noticed, at least.

Well, I kept updating the thread, as my travails with this jerky client reached the point where I had to tell him I would not continue working with him for the pittance he gave me on the first assignment.

This time, instead of posting his pearls of pompous wisdom on the board, he decided that I desperately needed to hear what he had to say to me, so he sent a private message through the board.

Wonder why he wouldn't just post on that thread?

Here's PJW's PM in full glory:

The moral of the story is as old as time itself - we all must pay our dues. The simple fact of the matter is that you were naive (and hungry), and as a business person, he could see this and operated accordingly.

It is otherwise known as 'business'. And this is the way it is.

You have indicated that you have done your homework (as had been suggested), and now you are in a stronger position in negotiations. Editors such as this know that they will get you once at least, and moreso the hungrier/needy the writer.

It is a bitter pill to swallow, what the writer perceives as being screwed by the 'managerial class'. It is the wider and classic labour vs. capital battle - your politics and class will determine much of how you perceive it (and for some, how they align themselves). Of course, there are other editors out there that pay higher fees and treat their service providers well. It is a case of weeding out the 'good' from the 'bad' of such editors.

There are quite a number of bumps and hits that we must endure along the way to get to a suitable, stable position. You must become proficient at negotiations, and managing the 'business' if you are to survive and thrive.This is the very distinct difference between the many hobbyist-dabbler-dilletante members here, and the fewer but successful long-term full-timers.

Yes, it's all good information, but he's repeated the 'naive' ''hobbyist' 'amateur' stuff in almost every response he has to my posts. Moreso, he has a real fascination with proving to me that he's got it all together and I don't. Well, that's how I have perceived it.

His PM reads like some attempt at a Valentine's Day card from Fyodor Dostoevsky to his daughter. I feel like printing it out and pasting it into a heart.

It's not so much what he says to me, it's his delivery. He's very pompous, period. He's quite fond of pointing out that he's so successful in writing, so wise, never makes these 'amateur' mistakes, that it's ingratiating. He's also fond of making sure to point out that he's a 'real' writer, and others--including me--only wish to be.

If he hadn't previously posted to me, making sure to always point out that I'm naive, I must not have any writing experience, and why don't I do my research before I post again, I would not have been angered by his private message. But I've just had it with his attitude, and he keeps feeling the need to seek me out to tell me about what he perceives as my shortcomings. He's just really odd, as I know he thinks I am, also.

Usually, I dismiss his blather, because he spends quite a long time--every day--on those boards. I think he's posted over 700 times, in the past year. I get the feeling that he's sitting in some 'Cold War' prison cell, with a dim lightbulb as his only source of light, and that the board may be his only connection to other people. Who knows?

I only go there, when I have a question, or when I want to answer someone else's question. I've posted about 40 times, I believe, since February of this year.

It's a lively place, with a very lively bunch of writers, but I don't always have time to look at everything. I've perused some threads, but I haven't had the time to post a lot.

In time, I hope I can check all of the folders out. One thing that does impress me is board owner's honesty about her road to success in the freelance world, while she battled and overcame some debilitating social phobias. Even in this day and age, many creative people are still afraid to talk about anxiety disorders, panic disorders, for fear of ridicule. Through reading about her background and life, I found out about how open she is about her battle with anxiety. I really admire her for that.

Anyway, I was already sweating out this month's bills, yesterday, while I await payment for two articles. I wasn't in the mood for his BS, period.

I won't bore you with my exchange, other than to say that I basically told him I thought he was a pompous ass, and though his advice is very good, I usually can't get past his condescending manner when he writes. I also informed him that I have been working as a professional writer for over a decade, and that--due to health problems, and the economy crashing in the early 2000's--I was out of work for a long period of time.

When I returned to the work world, it was a different ballgame indeed. Not that I needed to even explain things to him, but he seems to want my attention for whatever reason.

As well, since he acts as if he has no problems as a 'professional writer' and he doesn't whine and complain like 'amateurs,' I decided to take a look at some of his own posts.

Oh, you should see them. He complains about not getting paid on time, he complains about anxiety over not getting paid, he whines about editors not getting back to him, he concludes in one post that it's an evil woman that's behind his problems with one client. He had to make sure to point out that it was a woman that did him wrong. Interesting.

I wondered why he felt it was okay to keep telling me what I need to do with my writing career, or that it was okay to insult me about his perceived level of my writing experience, when he deals with the same issues as well.

All writers do at some point or another. I decided to give him a taste of his own words, using his posts. He sure didn't like that at all.

If you want to see my PM, feel free to email me and I will show it to you, so you do have a reference to his meltdown. My replies are too long (same issue I have here on the blog).

He wasn't really happy with me turning the tables on him at all. Probably not, since I was going out of my way to treat him the way he treats me.

His response? Now, remember he initiated a private message with me and felt that I really needed to hear his sage wisdom. I don't engage him. I've never been rude to him on the boards, and I never read his posts, period. Once I see his name, I know the post is going to have the cadence of a Nazi SS soldier.

Here it is:

Up until your initial post, I was prepared to accept that there might be some merit in what you had to say.

With your most recent tirade, I can only let you know that it is the mark of a severely psychically scarred individual.

I have always had the sense that your words contained within them the psyche of a tight, stocky pugilist, constantly seeking and itching for a fight. Your recent posts in the freelance forum and the most recent PM to me have confirmed this and more.

You have a psychological problem, on top of your physical problems, honey. Your recent post is clearly one of projection.

No, let me thank you - for taking soooo much time to undertake a review of the archives in the hopes of distortion to 'catch me out', and score points. Indeed, one of the oldest tricks in the book - and terribly boring. I hope you gained satisfaction from it - no sense spending precious time doing something you don't enjoy now, is there?


XX

After I stopped laughing, I really took a look at what he said. His description of me is very vivid in its detail, especially given that I am female. Honestly, it's about the most creative thing I've seen him write, but it's sort of scary/creepy, especially the whole 'honey' thing.

It seems he's been following my every post, but if that's the case, and he clearly doesn't care for my posts, or me why is he reading them and why is he contacting me??

But I have to say that his description of me is the most passionate thing I've seen him write. Oddly, that passage proves to me that he is a good writer, but its what spurs his passion that concerns me.

What's even more interesting, to me, is the whole 'in hopes of distortion to catch me out and score points.'

What does that mean? He contacted me, not the other way around. I also love it that the title of his message was "Final Word."...wow, a big, anal control freak!!! Imagine that?

I should have just let it go, but when a seemingly misogynist male makes a comment like "Final Word," it's just too much fun to let it go at that, right?

My last response to him, before he went on Ignore: (I think he's probably got me on ignore, but I have a feeling he's already viewed this blog)

Gosh,

For someone who thinks I'm pretty screwed up, mentally, you sure do follow me around a lot, read my posts, analyze them, and send me private messages.

I didn't initiate a conversation with you, and I gave you a taste of your sadistic medicine, which you didn't like.

I didn't have to dig hard to find posts where you whine and complain about the same issues as I do.

You really seem to hate women, which comes through not only in this PM, but also in your posts.

If I had to guess, I'd say you are a repressed homosexual, who has 'mommy' issues, but who cares?

Oh, and a Narcissist to boot. Not a good combo, but I'm not qualified to delve into your personal life.

But I must say your description of me was very entertaining. Such anger was feted all over that paragraph, and you even used the word pugilist!!! I love it!

Again, remember that it's you who have followed my posts, and you who initiated this PM. I think that says loads about your own mental condition, 'honey.'

But I'm not sure **board owner name deleted** would appreciate a member here trying to use mental illness as a defamatory comment against another member, whether in a PM or on the boards.

Don't communicate with me, again in PM or on the boards. I don't read your posts, and I'm not interested in your pearls of wisdom.

I'm too busy getting all tight and angry, and ready for my next boxing match, 'honey' (two circles and a snap)

In retrospect, I should have just ignored him from the get go, as I have done previously. But it was one of those days, and I was really over his "I'm a professional. You are not" schtick.

The above conversation further confirms that we are indeed in the middle of some sort of planetary shift.

I just find it sad, in this day and age, that people who want to hurt others, do it with the mental illness moniker, as if it's demeaning to have a problem like that. It's such a pot shot. Yet, I returned the favor.

My father is bi-polar and I've watched him struggle. I struggle with anxiety and depression, and so does my partner. Most of the friends we have are either in therapy, been in therapy, or are on medication.

People like PJW use anything they can to crush someone that reminds them of their own weaknesses and shortcomings. They find it a sign of weakness to admit that they, too, deal with the same anxiety laden issues, so they find someone they can try to pummel, in some sick attempt to make them feel better about themselves.

I hope PJW comes back to my blog and reads this. Unfortunately, he won't have the last word here!

Well, I'd write more but I'm in training for my next fight with Evander Holyfield.

For training, I thought I'd pick a fight with the mailman today, or maybe I'll kick the crutches out from under my neighbor, who broke his leg...you know, just to release the pent up anger.

You know me. I'm always lookin' for a fight!!!

Put em' up!

1 comment:

Terry Carroll said...

What a GREAT post!

Yeah, some editor somewhere would probably say it was "too long," but who set the rules on how long it's supposed to take to say what you think needs saying?

I once read something from an equally pompous jerkwad to the effect that REAL professional writers NEVER write anything for FREE. By that thinking, NEITHER you NOR your obsessed jerkwad are professional writers. If you're a professional, your status is determined by the fact that you get paid. You don't just "give it away."

My son, who blogs for ZDNet, wrote for them FOR FREE for over five years. It never occurred to me in all that time that he wasn't a "professional" writer. He was a "professional" because respectable people wanted to publish his writings. THEY must have made some money from it, HE didn't. But he wrote anyway. Why? Because he likes to write! It's an integral part of "who he is."

Obviously he wasn't trying to "pay bills" with his writing. He did (and still does) have a "day job." But it was important to him to write, and a real delight that someone else found him interesting enough that they would publish him, even though a case could be made that they were "stealing" from him. He didn't care. He's just one of those people who need to write like others need to breathe.

It seems that you are much the same way, although you do have the unfortunate necessity of having to consider some things that he doesn't (to pay the bills). But it's undeniable that you write because you need to write. If this isn't true, offer me an alternative explanation for the very existence of your wonderful blog!

It would be interesting to ponder the far deeper question "why do writers write?" "What makes a writer?"

Hubert Selby, Jr., author of "Last Exit to Brooklyn," "Requiem for a Dream," and others, was practically illiterate, and not a little crazy, but decided to be a writer. It borders on the miraculous to read one of his books and imagine his first meeting with an editor. Some editor HAD to have said "you can't be serious." But, if you can ignore every rule of English grammar and spelling, and still write AND publish AND sell movie rights, the answer to "what is a writer?" becomes too difficult for uptight jerkwads to even imagine.

I think what you write on your blog is interesting, thought provoking, WELL written, SELF revealing, and even UPLIFTING, given the stark "take no prisoners" honesty you have with yourself and whoever is fortunate enough to discover you. I can say I am not alone in this opinion, because I've heard variations on the same theme from everyone I've pointed to your blog.

The way we treat each other and, sadly, ourselves, too often sucks. But far better that you gave us this wonderful "real life story" in beautiful prose than that you hunted this guy down and killed him!

I think I was paid $150 about 20 years ago for something I wrote. So, technically, I'm a professional. I got paid for writing.

Since 1996 I've been paid to be mentally ill. I've often thought that if a person isn't depressed and/or anxious, they're just not paying attention.

Imperious condescension is sad. Everyone, even your pompous jerkwad, needs a little mercy every now and then.

Sorry this is so long. But, then it wouldn't be me!