First comes the original e-mail, a rejection letter sent to some 900+ applicants who didn’t get an online writing gig. Read it within this Gawker article impaling it as “42 dos and don’ts from a dick.” You can then read the original author’s logic and rebuttal at Salon.
When I look at the anger Shea’s long list of advice has generated, my thoughts include:
- Wow. No good deed does go unpunished.
- These people are not cut out to be writers at all. They cannot take constructive criticism. I wouldn’t have hired them either.
- This is a perfect manifestation of the “I’m So Awesome” generation that got a trophy just for deigning to show up.
- What part of ‘follow the directions’ is so complicated?
I find this all very revelatory. It’s helpful to me, because there are a couple of errors mentioned that I can easily see myself making, and would rather not make them. (Thanks, Shea!) What it reveals to me is that I haven’t been wrong about the Amazing Ego Based Upon Few Results mentality so common today. Anything that sounds like negative feedback: “That’s disrespecting me!” Respect is earned, sorry. Advice offered: “How arrogant to think you know better than me!” Uh, he does; he’s in a position to hire, and you are not.
Think on it. They would rather have been ignored than receive help. They would rather flounder in ignorance and mediocrity than take a bruise, suck it up and grow. Anything less than “You’re so awesome!” is a boot in the groin.
How did we wind up raising young adults this way? Is this a young adult thing, or a writer thing, or a young adult writer thing? Feel free to educate me. Because when I get a list of 42 things I might be doing wrong, I want to bless the sender. That’s 42 things I should never do wrong again.
I promised you a dirty little secret, and you shall have it. Truth: I didn’t succeed as a ‘lancer because of busting my butt, nor by being a brilliant writer. That isn’t self-deprecation; I’m not saying I didn’t work hard, nor that I’m untalented. I succeeded at freelancing because most of my competition took a look at its path ahead, sowed as many mines as possible in its path, concealed them carefully, went away for a while to forget where they were, then just waltzed on through the self-made minefield. Over, and over, and over. Most of my competition suicided on the way to the finish line.
I didn’t have to beat them. They beat themselves.