I haven’t been posting here, or at YellowBalloonPublications.com or at KrisandKritters.com or anywhere else very recently because Scholastic (my favorite high-profile client of all time!) has been keeping me busy.
I don’t think I’m allowed to tell you what division of Scholastic, or specifically who the people I’m writing/editing/copy-enhancing for, but I can tell you that if I were allowed to spill the beans, you’d be impressed.
But here’s the main thing. I’M impressed. I’m so happy to be helping this company that I’d do cartwheels if I could (without ending up in the hospital or in traction).
These are really great people! This is a really great company.
I’m a Scholastic kid. If you grew up loving to read and went to school in the past sixty-plus years, you’re probably a Scholastic kid too, no matter how old you are.
So when I was tapped by them to help with writing/editing/enhancing three years ago, I was over the moon. I still am.
I couldn’t work for a nicer, more appreciative bunch of people.
Yesterday I was given some warp six “stream of consciousness” talking points for a page and a half internal memo and asked to do my best to unscramble it and create a semi-straightforward first draft that they would tackle today or Monday (“to the best of your ability: I know it’s a mess”; that is, the requester didn’t expect a miracle; didn’t really expect me to “make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”).
So I went to work and then sent it over. (It took about 90 minutes. It was a serious challenge!)
The email I got back contained a single line. “Thank you! This is too good!”
What that meant (I surmise) is that they won’t have to do much more with it, if anything. It’s done–signed, sealed and delivered.
And I even surprised myself with it. I loved it. I re-read it three times yesterday and twice today. I’m sort of blown away by it. That happens sometimes. I wish it happened more often, but I’m my own worst critic, so it doesn’t. (I do get frequent replies like the one above from the three Scholastic people I support–all of whom are, by the way, competent writers. It feels great!)
So today I got a few more things to tackle. Only this time the requester trusted me to read something and then write a response from scratch (without being given a bullet list of talking points). This has happened once or twice before, but never on something as important as this particular thing. The response: “Thank you. I am in awe of you.”
*sigh* That made my day for the next month and a half!
What this means to me is, they know I totally “get” them (I understand their company culture and how to communicate within it the way an internal executive does) and they trust me to write by the seat of my pants. What that means is, I’m taking a lot more off their plates so they can focus on other pressing matters.
I’m lightening their workloads!
I did this at Warner Bros. when I worked there, and I did it for DeForest Kelley when I worked for him and he had to dictate letters for various reasons. At first, he would dictate them. But then, when he got really weak, I told him, “I know what you want to say. And I’ve received lots of notes and letters from you. So I can write this without your input. Let me try.”
He was amazed. He said, “That’s exactly what I wanted to say, and how I wanted to say it. How do you do that?”
It comes from having a sort of audio-graphic (is that a word? The WordPress dictionary doesn’t think so!) memory for the way people speak, write and think. If I get to know someone well enough, I can write like they do, and usually think like they do. I’m sort of a chameleon in that way. Which can come in mighty handy as a copywriter, editor and enhancer!
I remember in junior high I was really into Mark Twain so I wrote a story as Mark Twain using some of his characters and gave it to my English teacher, Mrs. Rossetti, to read. She was floored. She marveled, “If I didn’t know better, I would swear Mark Twain wrote this!”
So yeah, I’ve been at this writing game for a long, long time…more than 50 years seriously. (Ouch!) My first nationwide published article was in 1969 two months before my 18th birthday. (TV Star Parade Magazine, January 1969 issue. And the editor didn’t change a word.) By that time I’d been writing for eight years already. I started out writing Roy Rogers and Dale Evans stories for my own enjoyment–and, as it turned out, for my grade school classmates’ enjoyment, too. (The teacher read them in class and I just about died of embarrassment because I was so shy and had just moved to Cle Elum from Tacoma.)
Scholastic encouraged me to be a reader as a youngster (age five or so) by publishing engaging books that were affordable. I think I’m as bright, as well-read and as creative/imaginative as I am because of Scholastic. So to be using my skill as a writer and editor to help Scholastic is definitely going to be one of the proudest pieces of my legacy…
The other parts are the books I’ve written, the friends and employers I’ve helped in big ways and small, and the millions of words I’ve written for thousands of clients. I don’t have kids, so these are the things I’ll probably be remembered for…
And it feels good. Especially this.
Oh! And as an additional thank you, I’m getting branded Scholastic mugs and a jacket. How cool is that? I’m going to look like the contractor I am–all tricked out in a turquoise Scholastic jacket! I can’t wait!!!
We’re a mutual admiration society, we are!
P.S. SCHOLASTIC TURNS 100 IN 2020!!! A century of service to school age children, teachers and librarians… That’s impressive!