Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Worst Writing Job In The World


Me, yesterday.

I've been reading a book called L.A. Diaries, by one James Brown. No, not the Godfather of Soul. No, not the lad-mag hero and editor of Loaded. No, not the publisher of Viz and the Fortean Times. Sorry. This James Brown is a California-based scriptwriter and novelist; the book is an account of his life in literary La-la-land.

It's quite a good book. Harrowing in places, amusing in others, a deftly written piece of (occasionally maundering) confessional.

It also has this story about one of James Brown's writing chums. This guy once had this.... writing job. Which I think takes the biscuit as the worst, most demeaning writing job in human history.

All freelancers have to do crap jobs from time to time. I know writers who pen 200-page brochures for camera companies. Others are asked to write the stuff that goes on wine labels, the guff about soil and oak ageing (these label puffs are known as 'gurgle-blurbs', in the trade). Indeed, I once thought I had the naffest, silliest job in the writing world when I was reviewing Lego for amazon.com.

Yes, Lego.

But this friend of James Brown, he had to write the words.... used by Action Man. That's right. The one-liners the plastic doll comes out with when you pull the cord on his back. The crisp commands, the navigational queries, the heroic expostulations. Of a doll.

It's hard to believe the makers of Action Man actually employed a writer for this. But they did. What's more, they were very demanding, apparently. The writer only got paid for the lines they actually used. Which was about 1 in a 100, he reckoned.

If anyone's heard of a worse writing job than that, do please let us know at the toffeewomble. But I doubt there is one.

1 comment:

Tim Worstall said...

How about $2.50 per 800 words on keyword pieces for search engine optimisation?

Down from the $15 when I used to do them.