19 January, 2010

Authorial Duties

I've mentioned before that, as a published writer, I get invited to conferences and to speak to various audiences. Which is part of the job, I guess. Sometimes, I get invited to speak at a school and, late last week, I received such a letter from a librarian at a juvenile facility.
Normally, I'd just confirm and go, but... I dunno. I've stopped officially writing the books that put my name on the list to start with. I'm not so sure that talking about those books - and giving freebies, since I always give freebies - is the best topic for that audience. And, last but certainly not least, the letter is chock-full of errors in spelling, word usage, and grammar.

I'm used to reading things written like this from high school kids, even some college kids (like my daughter who seemed to purposely ignore grammar and spelling because 'That's what mom does, and I can't do things like mom!' I do have to admit, tho, that college English pretty much nipped her crap-spelling in the bud, though. lol) But to have this come from a school librarian, let alone one set with the task of contacting authors to come speak, kind of bothers me.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a grammar nazi. I am fluent in typo (or as a few of us call them, ty-fu aka typing fuckups) but, damn. This isn't chatting or a quickie email to a friend. This is a business letter. To WRITERS.

Mutter mutter. What to do? What to do?


Krista said...

That is a bit disturbing. Unless those types of facilities don't hire graduates of library science, I don't see how the librarian could make so many mistakes. They usually have a graduate degree, which would make it stand to reason that they've written more than their fair share of papers.

Catie said...

Nope, don't do it. Refuse politely or don't answer at all, but this is exactly part of the kind of thing you're stepping away from. It's not a good-for-Tammys scenario.

Maripat said...

I think I'd pass. I mean--seriously a librarian doing that? Maybe someone fudged her name to it...? Strange. It just makes me wonder.

Jean said...

I see two issues here. The librarian's letter is a distractor. First, is what Catie mentions -- is this good-for-Tammy? If no and the second issue does not override, then politely decline saying you're stepping away from writing and appearances for the foreseeable future.

The second is the audience of the talk, which, I presume, is not the librarian but the residents of the facility. It can be tough to get the most studious of kids to read, and these kids aren't likely to be studious. If they ARE reading, your trilogy would probably capture their interest. You valuing them enough to come visit and talk with them could make a huge difference in their lives.

As for the degree requirements, she probably does have a degree and most possibly an advanced one as well. I can't tell you the number of people I know who have both an undergraduate and a graduate degree who cannot write a simple business letter to save their life. It's also possible one of the kids wants Tammy to come speak, and the librarian, to test their desire asked them to write the letter for her signature (bad form to let it go out with errors, though, but I've seen stranger things happen).

I'm not trying to increase your guilt factor, Tammy. I'm just suggesting this is a unique audience, and they should not be punished because someone assigned to get speakers for them cannot write a letter. If it's more than the letter, then you have to go with what's right for you.

Tammy Jones said...

Bill thinks that I should consider talking to the kids not about reading - which is the point of the letter - but about writing to get the bad shit out. The abuse, anger, fear, and whatnot. Writing as a means of healthy self-therapy.

I have a while to decide. There are speaking dates open until June.

Jean said...

Bill has a good idea, and I think it's worth considering.

shawna said...

If it's a not-good-for-you thing, then don't do it... but if you do decide to, I like the writing to get the bad out idea - that's a pretty darn helpful therapy at times, and likely to be a lot more useful to those kids.

And another thought - the title "librarian" for that facility may not be a literal one - it's possible it's a outside volunteer or even a trustee position. (In fact, I'd be really surprised to find a paid librarian with a degree in that type of place, given most schools these days are struggling to afford to keep one full-time.

Maripat said...

Shawna said: "And another thought - the title "librarian" for that facility may not be a literal one - it's possible it's a outside volunteer or even a trustee position."

That's true. I didn't think of that. I had a relative in the system years ago. Many years ago now that I'm thinking on it. Times have changed. Even in my city libraries are closing so I agree it might not be a traditional librarian.

Is it possible to call this person for more information and feel out the situation? Tell them what you feel comfortable doing. Honestly, talking about writing as therapy is a great idea. Though are you sure you're up to it, is the big question.