I just turned down some paid work and I have no idea how I feel about it.
A few days ago I got an email about doing some corporate training videos: would I be interested?
I already write corporate stuff for a friend’s company. He pays me, which is great, but I mainly do it because I like working with him. This isn’t an area I particularly want to get into, I like writing because I like telling stories (lying); but hey, it’s writing and it’s paid so why not?
Today I got the brief for the work and I realised I just can’t do it, for several reasons:
- I can’t get through the brief without falling asleep.
- Every time I read phrases like ‘Unique Selling Point’ or ‘Cadence of Commoditisation’, I want to punch people.
- I don’t find this stuff interesting, how can I make it interesting to anyone else?
- And this one shames me the most, I don’t understand a fucking word of it.
I really, really don’t understand business-speak. I just don’t get it and that makes me ashamed and angry. It seems like everyone I know has a degree which is ‘something’ and business studies: physics and business studies, flower arranging and business studies, vampire fiction and business studies – and I have no idea what they’re talking about.
Particularly the vampire fiction and business studies girl. I mean really, vampire fiction? As opposed to vampire fact? Although I do tend to link the word business with vampires so it’s probably quite apposite.
I don’t know if I’m just not clever enough to understand the terminology or if I’ve been listening to too many Bill Hicks CDs, but I just spent a morning staring at pages full of phrases I can’t comprehend and feeling very, very stupid.
When I work for my friend, we have to sit down for hours while he explains what he wants in increasingly smaller words until it finally clicks.
“Oh, you’re saying if you’re nice to people, they’ll buy stuff from you again? And people need a training video to work this out?”
Global brand positioning, B2B marketing strategies, positioning statements – I don’t understand any of it.
And then this key phrase from the brief keeps jumping out at me:
“Each video needs to be stimulating, engaging and informative.”
And I know I’m just not capable of doing the job required.
But that decision pains me. John Cleese did a lot of training videos, if it’s good enough for him it’s good enough for … nope, doesn’t work. I just can’t think of a way to make this information interesting.
So I’ve emailed back and politely declined. It’s very rare I admit I can’t do something. I’m normally stupid enough to have a go anyway and see if I can just muddle through – and to be fair, I usually manage; but in this case I wouldn’t be doing it because of any genuine interest, I’d be doing it because I wanted the money.
I need the money, as always, but it I just don’t think I’ve got the skills to do the job. Plus, there are two potential feature writing gigs on the horizon and if I commit to writing these training videos, I definitely won’t be able to take them on.
They may not happen anyway, but it seems a risk worth taking.
There’s this little voice in my head shouting at me and calling me names for quitting, being a bit shit and passing up an opportunity. Meanwhile, there’s another part of me which is obstinately folding its arms and refusing to budge from what it knows is the right choice.
Both of which have left me feeling a bit … meh.