The Write Slave Trade
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 93 22:46:44 PST
Subject: The Write Slave Trade
They came in a large caravan of unmarked U-Haul trucks, carrying shotguns
and electric cattle prods. Me they got at the Chicago MLA meeting, others
at poetry workshops or writing seminars all across the midwest. A couple
of poor slobs here claim they got the entire Ohio State English department,
and I believe it. There's a big demand these days for cheap writers, and
that means a pretty price for the slavers.
One thing you got to give the slavers, they are an efficient and
businesslike bunch. Like the way they got me: gunmen were placed at every
exit of the big lecture hall except one, and when they started firing we
stampeded out the unguarded exit right into their trucks. They must have
got about two hundred of us in less than ten minutes.
And another thing: when they took us out of the trucks, they tied our hands
carefully with nylon ropes, not handcuffs or anything like that. It just
wouldn't do to hurt our oh so precious hands.
So now I'm in line, waiting for the block. If I'm lucky, I'll be bought by
one of the Harlequin conglomerates. Sure, they expect the output of a
Stephen King, but they're lax on quality control; I could pump out drivel
for years without firing a neuron. Worst would be copy editing for some
Hyperprint rag. Severe beatings are routine for shoddy work, to say nothing
of what would happen if a typo was published.
But odds are I'll be bought for technical writing, thrown into a basement
with all the others, and chained to a wordprocessor to produce manual after
dreary manual. An editor in the front of the room, and a slave master in
back, making sure my wpm doesn't fall too low. After a couple of years of
that, you start to dream about getting CTS. At least then, they would take
you out back and kill you quickly with a shot to the head, like you were a
© 1993 Peter Langston