The Candle Burns at Both Ends

For a fleeting moment this afternoon, I felt like walking out of my job.

Better judgment prevailed, but what I was left with for the rest of the day–and quite certainly for the rest of the night–was the dichotomy of doing right by the business and doing what’s right. Period.

Certainly, when you write for a company, everything that you write–even with some creative liberty–must be written tactfully and fashioned in a way that is generally representative of that company.

I get and respect that.

I’ll even admit to you that, all things considered, I was perhaps too bold in making a certain statement or that I just didn’t think about what I wrote as throughoughly as I should have. I couldn’t totally disagree with those who feel that I suffered from brief bout of Too Big For Britches Syndrome (TBFBS). No one who’s experienced any kind of success is immune to it.

But what I can’t stomach, what I haven’t been able to stomach for the last nine hours, is the fact that I had to amend a piece of writing that called out the big guy. The big business that was shitting on the little people. Yeah, you fucks turning billion dollar profits every quarter. You old-school assholes trying to bend the laws so people who’ve already lost it all can eat a little more shit.

Yes, I had to amend a piece of writing because the big guy, who does a fair amount of business with my company, threatened to make a fuss about it.

Let’s not shit on the hand that feeds us.

I agree that from the business [read: monetary] standpoint, amending the piece was probably the right thing to do. No use taking a stupid hit from someone who could detract from our bottom line.

And yet, that’s sort of where it all feels wrong to me.

This, I imagine, is the impass at which every creative person finds him or herself during some point in their professional lives: trying not to shit on the hand that feeds them while trying to work within the bounds of the corporate bottom line that ultimately limits them.


5 responses to “The Candle Burns at Both Ends

  1. I don’t know that every creative person hits this situation in their careers, just the good ones who have beliefs they hold dearer than a paycheck.

    There will always be those creatives who’ll sell themselves no matter how underhanded the message, but I don’t have Megan pegged as one of those people.

    That said, I wouldn’t go walking out of the office over that kind of thing.

    Well, maybe I would.

    The situation begs the question, “if you cave to something like that, how much integrity can you really say you have?” I think part of integrity is not letting yourself be pushed around. Even if it’s painful in the short-term.

    But what the hell do I know?

  2. I appreciate your thoughts, anon.

    Sparing the details, I think my anxiety over the issue came when I had to let people call what I did a mistake and swallow the patronizing that followed.

    Of course your question of integrity is spot on and has been plaguing me all night.

    But where’s the line between standing your ground and picking your battles? How do you, A. happen upon that line the instant that you need to and B. react in a way that won’t get you sacked?

    A friend recently told me that you just say what you have to say, and even if it comes out wrong, at least you learn something in the process, something for next time.

    Prophetic, yes. Easy in these instances, no.

  3. The first comment on this thread was SPAM and was therefore deleted.

  4. I think the bottom line is you gotta be true to yourself. If that means you get sacked, then f*ck ’em. Their loss.

    And yeah, it ain’t easy. But the stuff that really matters rarely is.

    Yes, I stole that line from someone. I’m not naturally that articulate.

    And holy shit, the “word verification” for this post is a finger-twister. “btqduwcu”

  5. Don’t be too hard on yourself about having to retract or re-write something to keep a client happy.

    Consider it a victory that your original draft made a point that hit home. The fact that you were made to eat crow over it reflects more on your employer than it does on you.

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