After a big writing project, I occasionally feel the need to crack my skull against something hard to dislodge the aggravation that’s been building there. The cause of my distress? Bad writing. Having encountered a lot of awful literary efforts lately, I decided to focus my next blog on the topic. But in contemplating the thread of that blog, my thoughts careened on a tangent toward bad singing, which led inescapably to reflections on William Hung of “American Idol” fame. Then, of course, I began bristling about why my inspirationally gifted niece hasn’t earned the fame and recognition that her heavenly singing deserves. Which then reminded me again of all the bad writers out there …
Bad singers and bad writers are abundant. Like the tone-deaf family members of the disillusioned singers on each new season of “Idol” (those parents and friends who have encouraged the entertainer wannabes to pursue their “dreams” of singing stardom), you’ll also find many writer wannabes. They are employed by desperate, preoccupied business owners, struggling to use all their resources to stay above water. When they need a brochure, updated web content or a press release for a new product, they stick a keyboard in front of the one staff member who can write without using an emoticon after every sentence. Then they wonder why they don’t get any results.
I’ve seen a lot of communications by individuals who admittedly are eager to create something worthwhile; they simply don’t have the expertise or experience to do so. Then I’m hired. I put the literary electrode paddles to the prose, shout “Clear!” and shock some life back into the unwieldy words. Sometimes it’s a marketing message that got lost in a bunch of techno babble. Sometimes it’s an article where the author forgot the purpose of the piece and strayed off on an unrelated thread.
I’m happy to fix those manuscript messes. I derive a lot of satisfaction from seeing the true spirit of the original communications piece break free. But I wish I could have been there from the beginning. If the people paying my bills had used me at the start of the project, rather than after the mess was made, I could undoubtedly have saved them a lot of time and money.
As for helping discourage those deranged singers who kick off each season of “American Idol”? Our train-wreck mentality will keep audiences watching, so I have little hope of seeing that trend dissipate. I’ll just have to keep plugging my ears until the real singers finally get the main spotlight.