14 Aug

Never off duty

So there I was, a couple of Saturdays ago, wandering around a party – perhaps just a little bit squiffy – when I spotted something interesting: a woman dressed up in a (sort of) fox outfit, including a tail.

In my drink-addled mind, I found this so amusing that I thought all of my Facebook friends should know about it (yes, I’m ‘one of those’ on Facebook), and put up a status about being at a party where a woman was wearing a tail.
The only slight problem with this was that I spelt it ‘tale’ (no idea why).

I decided to start talking to this tail-wearing woman – taking great care not to spill my Tesco ‘house red’ on her – but not before I’d asked my Facebook friends how you approach a woman in a tail oh the hilarity…
Yet again, I spelt it ‘tale’.

Of all the people to gleefully pounce on both the stupidity of the statuses and my inability to choose ‘tail’ over ‘tale’, my sister stepped into the breach to highlight my error: ‘tale or tail?’
Thanks sis.

No-one else commented on Facebook, but two friends mentioned it the next day and another two made some quip about ‘how do you spell tail?’ later during the week, thus confirming my idiocy.

This is one of the pitfalls of putting yourself out there as a copywriter – you’re always being judged on the words you use and the context in which you use them, whether written or in conversation (obviously spelling and grammar comes into play when actually writing).

I have to admit, I found this difficult in agencies. As a copywriter, it feels like everyone is waiting for you to be erudite, witty, charming, insightful every time you open your mouth… yet every now and then you just want to talk about football or beer, or something really mainstream.

If I send an email, even at midnight, and – through my closing eyelids – I tap out a typo or two, I guarantee someone will call it out.

If a Facebook status or comment has a misspelled word (even if the comment was clearly written in haste) or a misplaced comma, a helpful mate will mention it at some point!

Even when I’m talking to people, face to face, I’m selecting the correct words carefully e.g for ‘naughty behaviour/a naughty comment’, shall I choose risque, controversial, cheeky, awful, underhand, deceitful, duplicitous etc etc.
It’s part of my job to come across as vaguely articulate – who’d hire an inarticulate copywriter? – so my word selection, during conversation, is key in this respect.

In all honesty, I can’t really complain – most of the stuff from my mates is just ribbing.
In any case, copywriting has a degree of arrogance to it – you’re sticking your neck out and saying ‘actually, I think I’m a very good writer, so much so that people should pay for my writing’.
Paradoxically, my writing is only any good if someone else – be they a client or a reader of one of my blogposts – says I am.

Anyway, I’m interested to know if people who work in other fields have the same thing – that they’re never off duty.
Are nutritionist’s mates always waiting to catch them eating a dodgy burger? Do accountants get teased for taking too long to complete a Sudoku or for failing to add up a bill correctly?

Let me know – via tweets or comments on this post – if your work means that you’re never quite off duty.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *