Sonia Said: P.S. Please, reply
I had a plan for a great weekend. Get up early (which I forgot meant going to sleep early, too), eat a nice breakfast, go to a coffee shop and work on some freelance articles that have been in my head. I have failed already, having woken up just after 12, sitting in my pyjamas, not eating, but settling for a black coffee, writing my whiny column instead of focusing on that piece I thought could be great.
A friend once said to me: you can't be what you can't see. And I really did see myself in that coffee shop, fresh and enthusiastic about researching a topic I care about, writing it, pitching, and then...well that's where the fun starts.
I've recently done a little poll on Instagram asking people if they had ever pitched something and been completely ignored. What was the result? You guessed right, 100% said they did. This is wrong on all levels : levels of people spending their free time on something, levels of hope that their work – if not published – will at least be acknowledged. Levels of not just being rejected without actually being rejected, not to mention the feedback part. Because if someone is kind enough to send that short note that starts with “unfortunately...”, big chances are you won't get a feedback.
So, there you are, scratching your head, wondering if that application/pitch was even received. “Due to a high number of applications...” the ad said. You roll your eyes and try to forget about it. Two months later you get an e-mail from a company you've long forgotten about a position you don't remember, saying you don't have that job. I already wrote about a long application process that doesn't seem to be working for interested people or the employer. But there is a whole other issue within the creative world where piles of good work are just left there to sit in someone's inbox – unread and unheard and so are voices of its authors.
This is how and why I am so reluctant to spend serious time on serious work on a Saturday afternoon, already worried that my writing won't find its place. A process that should be an inspiration and hope is ruined by unpleasant experiences. Yes, we know there are just too many people and not enough staff but I find it to be a lousy excuse. If you open a call for submissions – you are responsible for every entry that is sent to you. If you're a magazine/paper reflecting a voice of society, you ought to respect all of those voices. If you can't handle it – simply design an automatic response to let someone know you’ve received their message. Hell, even add a note saying that if they don't receive a further response, they've been unsuccessful. It doesn't cost anything, not even time, so why is it so hard?
Maybe it's some kind of prestige – you should only be so lucky to establish any contact with people who have that power over you. But I feel like these days are gone. Interning at Vogue isn't a big deal any more – people are realizing that free work is more often just free work with no other result when there are thousands of people waiting in a queue. So what should we do? Go and create, don't let them get you down. Your work is meaningful because it comes from pure passion. Create, write, apply and make them listen. From now on, I am vowing to add a note to every e-mail: P.S. Please reply (don't write that, make it sound more professional) and then again and again and again, until they are forced to respect your time and see you as equal, or someone they surely once were.