Monday, January 14, 2008

Manic Monday

God, I am still pissed off, and that is something, as I cannot sustain anger towards anyone or anything.

I am involved in a copyright case that presents truly interesting legal issues and a book that probably only Norm and the P would recognize (Jonathan, Seagull, anyone?), and I am intimately familiar with all of the facts of the case. I am the client's favorite contact, but not her immediate, as I have a lot of competing cases.

ANYWAY. Irritating Colleague, who has a solid background in appellate practice, was charged with writing the brief, which she completed two months ago. The thing about legal writing is it isn't that different from regular writing - authors tend to hate being edited. They are telling a non-fiction story and they know all of the facts that constitute the tale. You have to check your ego at the door. Yes, it might be part of the story you want to tell, but that doesn't mean it is the most effective way to tell the story.

ANYWAY. Irritating Colleague wrote the appellate brief, which was good on some levels, but desperately needed some editing. Our firm associated an 'expert' on certain appellate matters, and I wrongly assumed that meant I would not be needed, aside from a few hours of editing for voice and argument structure. Fuck, was I wrong. I got called in at the very last minute (less than a week before the brief was due) and was tasked with editing someone who hasn't learned to check her ego when it comes to editing.

Long story short, I spent the past week working around the clock, trying to edit someone who refused to be edited. If I were having a moment of optimism, I would say it taught me a lot about learning to surrender my own work product, but quite frankly, it all just pissed me off. I worked all goddamn weekend, making sound editorial revisions and more concise legal arguments, but the author was just too married to her work. Damn near every cut I made was met with a "no, this is how the argument has to sound," and there was no convincing her about the whole 'forest for the trees' perspective. The clincher was last night, as I was readying myself to leave the office after working all weekend, and the author of the brief remarked that she was going to "hit a double feature tonight." This was right after she asked me to write two critical sections of her brief. I finished this task around 1:45 am.

I was up until 2am, and back at the office at 8am. In the end, after much drama and constant revisions, the brief was in condition that I felt our office could stand behind. Irritating Colleague then demanded that my name be added to the brief and I balked. Had I written it, it would have read much differently, and truth be told, I was nothing more than a script doctor. Mainly, however, I am pissed because it is close to midnight and I am not sleepy. My whole schedule was fucked to accommodate someone who doesn't approach her work the way I do.

ANYWAY, this was all good information and confirms what I had tentatively decided. I am ready to move on, in so many ways, and I can't work like this. I am a loner when it comes to legal writing. My office's biggest complaint is that I won't let anyone see it until I can live with it in unedited form. Irritating Colleague will pawn any part off. I can't do that. I can live with editing, but not collaboration, at least in early drafts. Also, she comes to my office at least once an hour, even under a deadline, wanting to shoot the shit. This shouldn't piss me off, but it does.

Clearly time to move on. My only hesitation is that I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been given, and that I know my boss loves me like a daughter.


Talix said...

Jonathan Livingston Seagull? *reco'nizes*

Norm said...

Oh, you'll be bach on trach in no time. ;)

K, you just unwittingly gave me an epiphany. No, really.

I'm having shedloads of trouble here getting some of this stuff done at work that needs doing because ... *drumroll* ... I don't like to be edited. Damn straight. I'm sitting here trying to lift my jaw up off my clavicle because that is my current problem in a nutshell.

Ok, for your next job, don't work with me.

cornutt said...

Norm, no one likes being edited. We have told a story, whether true or fanciful, and structured it the way that we wanted to tell it. Problem is, unless you are in an autonomous creative position - and even this is no guarantee - you are always subject to editing by whomever is invested in your audience's response. Unless you are independent wealthy and can self-publish without regard to your audience, you have to be edited.

I should add that I don't like being edited, either. Hence, this blog. I can say whatever the fuck I want :D

Tal, I am impressed. I had heard of it, but hadn't read it (still haven't). When I can, I will tell you the story. And - while I have you here, congrats on 12 years. You are inspiring.