We think of writers working on novels, articles, Pulitzer acceptance speeches and shopping lists, when in reality the bulk of a writer’s writing time is spent in the careful composition of the rarely discussed Nag-o-Gram™. Perhaps the time has come to examine this secret, slightly shameful, yet utterly professional art form.
We all know roommate / family-member nagging, which is essentially reminding someone who if they --
1. Really loved you.
2. Really cared about your wishes.
3. Had been paying the least bit of attention, or,
4. Weren’t lazy-assed turds --
Would not need reminding.
Professional nagging, however, can not be articulated satisfactorily by sighing, eye-rolling, or even whining. Nor can the writer pen a pithy, anonymous, passive-aggressive note to attach to the laundry hamper or empty milk carton.
No. If the person who requires nagging holds the writer's precarious career in the palm of her hand, the writer can’t just dash off the petulant, ‘When are you going to read my fucking manuscript all ready? Isn’t that your god-damn job?’ and expect a productive reply.
No matter how many times the agent or editor or publicist has failed to come through as promised, the writer can't afford to scold or demand. The writer's task is to remain likable, non-critical, entertaining, grateful, publishable -- in essence F-U-N to work with.
Thus, the writer can spend days crafting the offhand, friendly, reminder that she has been waiting, unable to blink or swallow since last Tuesday.
And if the initial nag-o-gram garners no response, the second one poses double the challenge to the writer's skills. How many times can she pretend to be asking after the health of the editor's cat?
And the third in a series of nags? Fourth? Straining the writer’s wits and tricks.
No wonder some agents and editors posthumously publish their writers' correspondences. They are probably the most desperate, delicately wrought and inventive work of the writer's career.
Surely those in power see through the writers' wily attempts.
Maybe they get together and have a good laugh, comparing them.
“HA! Here’s a good one!” they say. “It’s the sick kitty again!!!”