Thursday, June 14, 2012

Around the Word

All Apologies. Speechwriters know that the mea culpa is probably one of the most difficult to write well. The sweet spot at the axis of sincerity and self-preservation can be an elusive target, especially now that everyone can be a critic, and a public one at that. Who isn't sick of the canned "saying sorry without actually apologizing" celeb atonement? That's why actor Jason Alexander's amends for offensive remarks he made on Craig Ferguson's talk show (referring to cricket as a "gay" sport) was the talk of the Internet last week. Bedsides that fact that Alexander (or his PR flack) made the effort to write more than 140 characters, what was most refreshing was the fact that his apology is an actual piece of meaningful and honest self-reflection. 

Face or Kneecaps? You got the job, you've done the work, and now it's time to get paid... or not. Freelancers know that getting that check in hand can be almost as much work as the gig itself. How many times have you finished a project only to have the client decide that it's a good time re-neg, stop returning phone calls, or just plain disappear? How do you deal with a deadbeat when you don't have a goon squad, or any real recourse besides Small Claims Court? Check out this interview with Sarah Horowitz, president of the Freelancer's Union, in which she discusses the Union's new advocacy campaign for freelancer's rights, strategies to deal with the shirkers, and The World's Longest Invoice.

Fail: a Win in Disguise. Last week intern Abi attended a reading and conversation with Joyce Carol Oates and Robert Ford (part of a great series put on by CUNY's Center for Fiction). She found the most instructive part of the evening to be when the authors discussed the role of failure, an all-too-common theme in the writing life, in bringing about some of the most beloved literary treasures. Oates suggested that she wished she'd had a "phoenix experience," a great moment of failure to overcome and rise above. She reminded the audience that if Faulkner had succeed as a poet or Aldous Huxley impersonator, he never would experienced the emotional turmoil that spawned The Sound and the Fury. Best to embody the immortal words of Beckett: "Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better."

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