One of the most painful aspects of working as a copywriter is seeing your painstakingly assembled sentences sliced and diced by a client with a fourth-grader’s grasp of syntax.
It’s painful (we’re writers after all, eager for the occasional morsel of praise), but hell, we’re getting paid.
So we suck it up and move on, trying not to let the client drive a stake through our response rate or dangle a modifier in the midst of our call to action.
After all, almost no writer’s work is universally accepted or loved, and anyone who needs a reminder of that little fact might want to peruse an Examiner article titled “The 50 best author vs. author put-downs of all time.“
Even literature’s giants can’t agree about what’s good and what’s not – so what chance do we have?
A few examples of the carnage:
3. John Keats, according to Lord Byron (1820)
Here are Johnny Keats’s p@# a-bed poetry…There is such a trash of Keats and the like upon my tables, that I am ashamed to look at them.
4. Edgar Allen Poe, according to Henry James (1876)
An enthusiasm for Poe is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection.
5. John Updike, according to Gore Vidal (2008)
I can’t stand him. Nobody will think to ask because I’m supposedly jealous; but I out-sell him. I’m more popular than he is, and I don’t take him very seriously…oh, he comes on like the worker’s son, like a modern-day D.H. Lawrence, but he’s just another boring little middle-class boy hustling his way to the top if he can do it.
6. William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, according to Samuel Pepys (1662)
…we saw ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ which I had never seen before, nor shall ever again, for it is the most insipid ridiculous play that ever I saw in my life.
Today’s moral? Nobody’s words gain universal acceptance, and neither will ours. You just do good work, feel good about it all, and move along.
Keep writing, Tom Chandler.