Saturday 14 January 2012

C J Daugherty: My Best, Worst and Oddest Writing Experiences (Night School Blog Tour)

As part of the Blog Tour for her new novel Night School, C J Daugherty has stopped by to talk about her best, worst and oddest writing experiences...

My Writing Life: The Good, The Bad and The Weird

My best writing job

Aside from writing Night School (that would be too obvious), my best writing was my first ever proper journalism job at a medium-sized daily newspaper in the US.

I worked the evening shift, from 4pm to midnight with a brilliant crime photographer.
We used police scanners to keep up with the crimes the local force was dealing with. I taped a list of police codes to my computer. I still remember some of them. A signal 14 (one-four in police parlance) was a shooting. We heard that one a lot.

Every night we dashed from one crime scene to another – a shooting here, a robbery there – to get the basic facts from detectives and witnesses. Then we’d rush back to the newsroom to file photos and stories.

It was intense and scary and fascinating. I loved it.

The worst writing job

Well, this is a very competitive category. I’ve stormed out of more than a few jobs. Gritted my teeth and finished many more.

The only one that still rankles was a freelance job writing for a famous international magazine’s website (I’ll name no names). Looking back it’s kind of tragic. I was so excited about it when I first got the assignment. It seemed like a dream job.

Unfortunately, the editor was such a wanker that it turned into my worst nightmare. Pardon my language but there is no better word to describe this man. He kept changing his mind about what he wanted, and each time he’d write me an awful patronising message. These were passed on to me through a really nice assistant who felt very sorry for me and kept apologising.

At first I was nice. Then I was wounded. But after a couple of months of this torture, I’d had enough. And I decided I didn’t want this job anymore. So I wrote him a flaming barn-burner of a response. I’ve still got it on my computer. And it still makes me laugh. He’d asked me to write a sidebar on US/UK language differences, then made fun of my suggestions. So wrote ‘How about this instead?” Then I compiled a list of every obscene British insult I could think of. And after each one I wrote his name.

Strangely, that was the last time I heard from him.

The weirdest writing job.

For a while in the 1990s I worked for a private university in the US researching wealthy students and writing reports about them. I was like an education private detective.

It worked like this. Using public records I’d find out everything about these students and their families. How many spouses their parents had been through, every job their parents had ever worked. How many houses they owned. Where they went on holiday. Every charitable or political donation they ever made. Then these would be compiled in to reports.

The fund raising office would then use these to try and convince the parents to donate to the university. I always imagined they’d get letters that said things like, “If you like Broadway and travel in the Bahamas, you should give to our university for its awesome Travel Theatre Group.”

Anyway, the job was super creepy. But I’m a natural snoop so I can’t say I didn’t kind of like it.
Thanks C J!  I had to laugh at what you did to that editor - classic!

You can find C J Daugherty on her website , on facebook and on twitter.

And you can read my review for Night School here.

1 comment:

roro said...

cool interview/guest post thingy


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