Recently, I’ve been receiving a lot of requests to write blurbs for other people (for free). These blurbs include stories that cover someone’s family history for their family reunion, dedication pieces, poetry (I’m a fiction major), collaborate on a science fiction piece (I’m a HISTORICAL fiction major) and many other things that make me want to scream:
I DON’T SH*T STORIES, SO DON’T ASK ME TO!
Many, and I can’t be the only one that experiences these kind of encounters, believe that I sit at my desk and just sh*t out a story, like my butt is magical and everything I digest becomes something the masses want to read. That’s not how writing works! I sit at my desk for hours everyday and maybe ONE good sentence comes out. Some days I write an entire short story but even then the whole thing doesn’t come out and is immediately ready to be published.
All I ask, on behalf of myself and any other of my fellow creative writers out there who have run into this issue, if you want us to collaborate on a project, write a dedication or family history for you, let us do it in our own genre. If you ask a poet to detail the history of your family, do not be surprised if they hand you an epic. If you ask a songwriter to collaborate with you on a project, do not be surprised if they hand you multiple songs instead of chapters to be incorporated in your work. We know what we are good at which is why we go by the titles of Playwright, Screenwriter, Poet, Songwriter, Graphic novelist, Essayist,
Author of Fiction.
I didn’t just let someone put the sorting hat on my head and let it delegate that I was destined to write historical fiction. I chose that genre because I love history (and let me stop right here and mention that does not cover ALL areas of history nor does it mean I want to write out the history of your family). I’ve also dabbled in speculative fiction because I wanted to stretch my mind.
But even then, all of these stories took time to write! The worst thing you can do is come to me last minute and ask me to write something for you that is outside of my genre and has nothing to do with fiction. I’m not a computer, I don’t blink and the story appears right in front of me ready to go and I find it really insulting when people just assume that what I do only takes a few hours and then I move on to the next project. I’m trying to create something that will eventually get published which could take years to accomplish. So people bombarding me with projects that are completely out of my wheelhouse is very irritating, along with several of the other questions we majors of English receive.
As an English Major, I am subjected to a lot of ridiculous questions regarding my major and what I plan to do with it. Probably the most common response to “I’m an English major, focus in creative writing” is “Oh, so you plan to teach?” When did “I want to be a teacher” ever cross my lips? I respect teachers and what they do, putting up with students who can think of any excuse not to turn in an assignment on time and asking how to complete said assignment the day before its due is something worthy of respect if you plan to choose that as your career. I love all of my teachers (most of them anyway) but could never put up with what they have to go through on a daily basis and that’s AFTER they teach freshmen English.
No thank you.
I fully realize that at some point in my life choice to be an English major, I may have to teach. But until then, NO I DO NOT PLAN TO BE A TEACHER SO STOP ASKING ME. And do follow up with why. Do you ask other majors why they don’t want to teach? Do you think someone majors in astrophysics because they want to teach astrophysics? Computer science because they want to teach it?
Some other questions that really “grind my gears” as Peter Griffin would say:
- Could you proof read my resume?
- Once again, did you not hear the words “creative writing major” pass from my lips? Out of all the resources that are available of people who would actually read your resume, you ask the creative writing major? When there is a set format for your resume, you ask the CREATIVE WRITING MAJOR. I personally find no joy in reading other people’s resumes nor do I wish to proof whether or not they can list their skills under their specified job listings. I didn’t go through eight years of college just to proof read your resume. Good luck on getting the job though!
- Could you proof read my essay/article?
- This question, while sometimes is a yes, will most likely be a no. I get a lot of psychology and science majors asking me this which confuses me. I read for content and I took psychology freshmen year of college and barely paid attention, hot room plus a monotone professor = terrible combination. My father, a psychology major, would probably have more insight then me.
- For both essays and articles I’m going to be mean and say, if your topic doesn’t interest or pertain to my life then no I will not read it. Forgive me for wanting to read topics that I am interested in when you are not paying me for my advice. If you were paying me, that’s be a different story though my feelings on the matter would probably remain the same.
- Well, you’re an English major, shouldn’t you know how to do this?
- Linguistic Majors: Study language
- Literature Majors: Study literature and even then they have to choose which time period to study.
- Rhetoric Majors: Study the art of effective persuasive speaking or writing.
- Creative Writing Majors: Study the craft techniques of various forms of narrative, pick which narrative form will be their focus and then write in that narrative form while reading several authors who also write in that form.
- My point being, no I do not know how to spell every word in the dictionary nor do I know its meaning. No, I don’t always catch comma splices, misuse or mispronunciation or words. No, I don’t like debating and hence will not impress you with my wide vocabulary. No, I have not read every book under the sun and don’t look at me like that because I don’t know the author you just name dropped in the middle of our conversation.
- Do you want to play Scrabble?
- NO! Contrary to popular belief, not all English Majors enjoy a game of Scrabble. I am one of those people, nor do I enjoy the game that comes in the little felt banana or apple. I don’t know the name of it but it’s pretty much Scrabble so no thank you. I’m not a fan of board games in general, but Scrabble in particular because when an English major sits down and decides to play, they are expected to know every word imaginable and win the game. That’s a lot of pressure for one person to undertake, especially when the point of playing any game is to have fun.
- Have you written a novel yet?
- This goes to my above rant about how I DON’T SH*T STORIES, so don’t ask me to. Why do most people believe it is so easy to construct a novel and get it published? We can’t all be Stephen King and be brilliant! For some of us, it takes time, a lot of effort and patience to see the story through. In the meantime, while working on this novel, our lives are happening around us. English Majors get married, have kids and go to the job that is supporting our decision to write a novel. It’s really annoying when someone asks when your novel will be finished. Instead, ask how our novel is coming along and maybe ask if we’d like to share something about our work in progress. Who knows? You’ll probably be able to point out a plot hole we never really noticed before.
Call me what you want. Mean, irritable, a bitch. I really don’t care, because I know how to say no when your project doesn’t interest me. I didn’t go to school to learn how to proofread resumes and write cover letters for other people and once again:
I DON’T SH*T STORIES, SO DON’T ASK ME TO!
One question I will say yes to:
- Will you proofread my story and let me know what you think?
- YES! Especially when you say I can take my time or give me a reasonable deadline to have it back to you.
As for the other questions which I will always say no to:
sorry not sorry.