It is that time of year again in my day job. Everyone’s least favourite hour in their working day. No, not 8:00am on a Monday, but performance review time. Two pages of inane questions to which you have to answer what is basically the expected path. You can’t say what you really think. You can’t make a joke and move on. After all, the annual pay rise at least partially depends on it.
Before I go further, I’ll say that the last couple of years have been a cruise for this. I work for a great person, and the firm is pretty relaxed. Performance reviews are not the black day that they have been on occasion in the past. But despite that, the form is still sitting there, demanding to be completed.
You can’t talk yourself down too much, as that piece of paper sits on your file. So you can’t say you’re crap at teamwork and would rather work alone in the corner office with the door closed. Neither can you say your career goals for next year are more money, every Friday afternoon off, and a parking space out the back. You have to use words like promotion and company values and career driven. But the horror if you rate yourself highly only to be shot down in flames.
As a writer too, we have a de facto performance assessment every time a reader leaves a review, and like workplace ones, reviews can’t possibly be all good all the time. That’s okay. As in the workplace, not every reader will like what you do. Poor reviews are a necessary evil.
But what if, as writers, we had to do our own performance review? Rate our strengths, our weaknesses. Areas needing improvement. How can I rate myself for my ability to put commas in the right places, for the proper use of Chicago Manual of Style, and hanging prepositions? Then there’s character development, pacing, overarching plot, plot holes and lack thereof. Then the teamwork – does the writer play well with others? Does she tweet her fellow writers’ good reviews, comment on blog posts, stump up a blog post for her publisher when required?
What if our editors ticked off on those boxes? Now that’s a scary thought. No pay rise for this little black duck.
I think my writer’s performance review would mark me down for repeating words, woeful use of commas, and incredible ability to write sentences in any number of tenses except the simple past. Maybe, if my editor was in a good mood and had had her coffee that morning, she’d mark me up for my ability to set the mood of a story, characterisation, and a pleasing undercurrent of humour.
I wouldn’t fare so well in the teamwork section. Sure, I like to give shout outs to other writers, promote their releases, and occasionally review their books. I can retweet with the best of them. But my lack of a Facebook account… ooooh. Not good.
Book sales. Um…. I’ll tick the middling box. Definitely not the best, but I don’t think I’m the worst either.
Writers, readers, reviewers… How would you go if you had a performance review for this?
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