UPDATE (5:45 am, local time):
BLAM! BLAM BLAM BLAM! Die, you zombie project! Die! BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM. BLAM.
There, I think it’s dead. Off to bed.
True story: the paraphrased correspondence between one freelancer and his so-called editor (as patiently translated, or at least paraphrased, by his collaborator):
(A few months ago.)
Editor: This passage, about the chess game. We like it, but… can someone really win a chess game in five moves?
Freelancer: Yup. Apparently you can win in just two moves. I Googled it. I’m a pro, okay? Here’s a link.
Editor: (Without responding, goes off into a paroxysm of horror about how much she has to do one some other project for which the absolute beheading loss-of-job deadline is tomorrow.)
Editor: Um, like, so are you like totally sure that someone can win a chess game in like only five moves? I have to do layout tomorrow so I’m doing every *&@^&#! last thing at the last *@&#^! moment as usual and I’m in the frantic panic in which I end every project in my whole life, but which I’ve never thought about perhaps avoiding in the future by managing time and deadlines better.
Freelancer: Oh, for &@^##%!’s sakes, has you ever heard of the mother^&@^#%$ing Internet? It’s really handy for looking up &##^@& *@^$$^# like this! Oh, hell, here’s a link. (Again, I may add.) Now please stop asking this same question again and again; do it once more and I will kill you to death.
Yes, kill you to death. Think about that.
Editor: (Goes off into a paroxysm of horror about some other random thing that was confirmed weeks or months ago, becausethe absolute beheading loss-of-job deadline for The Freelance Project That Refused to &#^@%! Die is tomorrow.)
(It’s much worse when the repeated inquiries are whether this or that grammatical structure is actually, really, truly correct. After the third repeat, you start thinking of colorful ways to say, “If you know something I don’t, write the book yourself.”)
Oh yes, friends, this is of course from the annals of The Freelance Project That Refused to &#^@%! Die — which is actuall;y about to die, insofar as I’m concerned, tonight. Or, at least, of this I have been assured.Sartre’s line about hell being other people? I was on the verge of reworking it into “hell is other people’s parents” though that’s slightly mean and unfair — “hell is other people’s parents’ hangups” is bit fairer, if less funny (and I can’t find either on Google, so I tentatively claim coinage, whee!) — but now I think I can safely say that hell is freelancing for certain Korean educational publishing company textbook editors.
(Who, yes, actually highlight accidentally repeated words and email the file back with, “This is a repeated word, perhaps unless it is grammatically necessary for some reason we should cut it?” written in blue-colored flowery Korean phrases too difficult to read on sight, instead of just editing the word out like they ought to. And the fact they include smilies with every vague, “This question isn’t good, please put another,” without the slightest hint of why the question isn’t good, that makes me, well, can one use the word feral to connote a desire to tear open throats with one’s bare teeth?)
I should note that this freelancer is actually getting off easy. Someone he knows worked for three years on a textbook, with some bigwigs, and after 3 years, the bigwigs were still nattering on for whole 8+ hour sessions every day for the last week, scrambling to get everything just exactly right. Because 3 years wasn’t quite long enough to finish a few hundred pages of content. Sometimes I wonder if people just crave self-torture as a way of convincing themselves they’ve worked hard. Luckily, this project was nothing so insane as that.
Still, there’s more, so much more to rant about — like how it feels to be reduced to making changes that make no sense, because that will shut up the editor and finish the damned thing sooner, or how it feels to be dealing with people who don’t know how to use a track changes function (well, who probably don’t know how to use anything but the worst word processor around, which, if it has a track changes function, certainly doesn’t have one compatible with anything the majority of Planet Earth uses) — but I’d rather go finish these last three chunks and be done with this blasted thing forever!
Next time someone suggests a freelance textboook gig to you? Run. Don’t walk — run in the opposite direction.