Saturday, January 14, 2006

Write and wrong

I write for a living. I’m very lucky cos I get paid for doing what I love.

But every now and again, I get asked to write stuff which I have problems with.
It’s not the writing itself.
It’s...well, you’ll see.

Resignations
Colleagues in practically every company I’ve worked for have asked me to write theirs. I’ve written so many that I’ve actually got a protocol. First, I tell them:
  • Resignations are private matters, and best done by one’s self.
  • Resignations don’t need to be creative. Just clear. And the message is remarkably consistent, regardless of position or industry (I’m leaving, duh).
  • There are several excellent websites from which you can grab templates. Just Google ‘resignation letters.’
Course, this does nothing to deter people.

Firstly, they want to send a message. They range from “I want to say I’m happy to leave and fuck y’all, but I don’t want to burn any bridges” to “I don’t want really want to go, but I want it to sound like I’m very serious about it.”
Right.

Worst of all, my suggestion to download a standard format is met with “Yeah, I’ve seen those. I want something different. I don’t want what’s out there already, y’know?”

It gets worse.
I sometimes get referrals from people who’ve resigned, and they say “Your last few letters are starting to look the same. Can you gimme something different?”

Complaints
I have written complaint letters to:
  • Banks (a lot of banks)
  • Internet Service Providers
  • Neighbours
  • Pet Shops
I try and persuade people to give these establishments a call and do it on the phone.
Plus mail takes a while to go through ‘the system’ (they all got some kinda system). Calls are faster and more direct.

No dice.

“I want to sound very unhappy! I want it to be strongly worded with…strong words!”
And almost all of them want me to end on a threat. Preferably something about going to the papers.
But when I say “Ok, which paper do you want to cc on this little note?” they go “Er, I just want you to imply it.”

Emails of generally dubious intention
Requests I’ve entertained (sometimes with regret):
  • Rejecting an unwanted date (“He’s such a fucking creep. But don’t be mean. He's my boss.”)
  • Asking someone out (“Try not to make me sound needy. Don’t do it like you do it.”)
  • Various email wars about various stupid company matters (I’ve actually stopped doing these since I’m very uncomfortable with my writing being the match that ignites the shitstorm, not to mention being very frustrated when the person complains that “It doesn’t sound like something I would say.”)
Which brings me to the problem I have with all this.
Is that how people see me?
A writer of nasty letters?
Do people see some vicious streak they find handy in unpleasant situations?

I love writing.
It’s something I want to do forever.
Something that has my signature on it.

But is that what my signature reads?

‘Asshole. But useful.’

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