Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pay the man: part 2

 I have been asked by a few people to update last week’s Pay the man story, so here goes. To recap: an expat client who lives in England hired me to edit his YA novel, was rapturous throughout the process – even asked me to send him a photo of me so he could visualise me at work – until I sent my invoice, lower than quoted. I have since received five long ranting emails about why he won’t pay me. All were tl;dnr but one can skim and get the gist. I haven’t replied to any of them, have just sent occasional polite reminders that he owes me.

In the Fourth Email of Abuse he offered $250 in settlement of my $1000 invoice (which had already been reduced in the hopes of payment rather than argument). In the Fifth Email of Abuse he demanded a refund of the $500 he paid in advance for what was a month’s work. It begins:
You’re busted, you devious little popinjay!

He lost me at “You’re”.

The Fifth Email of Abuse ends:
I’d say you should be ashamed of yourself, but I suspect you are without shame. You are certainly one of the vainest individuals I’ve ever worked with. Typical small-town stuff. The minnow who sees a shark in the mirror. But murder will out...

So I posted this on Facebook:
UPDATE: Latest abusive email, #5 in a series, from this (so far unnamed) client who refuses to pay for my editing of his novel. He has already called me a rubbish editor, a liar, a megalomaniac and a drunk. Now he calls me a “popinjay”. I’m rather flattered by “popinjay”. Don’t know what it means but it sounds well-dressed at least.

Francis Wheen quickly chimed in with this:
Popinjay doesn’t get many outings these days. The last time I heard it used was in 2005, when George Galloway MP went to Washington and denounced Christopher Hitchens as “a drink-soaked former Trotskyist popinjay”. Hitch wore it as a medal of honour for the rest of his life.

I never thought I would be able to boast of having anything in common with Christopher Hitchens but by golly I will boast about this. Popinjays of the world, unite!

Francis followed up with:
Incidentally, Stephen, haven’t you missed the deadline at which you were due to name and shame? Until you do identify the culprit I shall regard all male NZ-born authors over here with fierce mistrust, wondering which of them is the type to hurl the word “popinjay” at a blameless editor.

Francis is a journalist so notices deadlines. But I will keep the naming and shaming within the industry. I fear the author has mental-health issues so it would be unkind to name him on the internet. But I worry about all the other male NZ-born authors in England who will be regarded with “a fierce mistrust”. Though I think this is a sensible attitude to take with all authors.

But back to abuse. After popinjay, what insult will come in the Sixth Email of Abuse? Knave, varlet, scullion, rampallian, knotty-pated fool, coxcomb? I am rather hoping for coxcomb. I’ll keep you posted.

So here is Harlan Ellison on paying the man:


Ron McMillan said...

As an author and an editor of other writers' manuscripts, I say he deserves to be outed. Let him pay for his dishonesty in damage to his reputation.

Unknown said...

'popinjay' was used by someone to describe Lord Mountbatten & I always associate it with him.

Just to be on the safe side: don't go on any boat trips in the Irish Sea for a bit.

Stephen Stratford said...

@ Ron, appreciate the support but if he is, as I suspect, mentally unwell naming him would just make his condition worse. OTOH when people ask me privately who he is I do tell. There are limits to my niceness.

@RBB, I am not quite as pleased to be associated with Lord Louis as I was to be with C Hitchens but is still illustrious.

Stephanie said...

Popinjays of the world must stick together regardless of personal feelings. Although, I have always thought it was a term related to one's style of dress, which may or may not fit your wardrobe.

I await with much anticipation for #6 and the key word!

Food That Tastes Great said...

I've always been fond of "lickspittle" as an epithet that can be delivered with anything from an aggrieved mutter to rage. Perhaps a particularly relevant insult in my day job.

Interesting that the best insulting words seem to have been around for a long time.

Stephen Stratford said...

Yes, the oldies really are goodies. An Indian friend taught me how to swear at people in Hindi but none of the words, however savage their meaning, sounded as good as the English ones.