Authorship?

Author:
Publish date:

Ever notice how when you are building a project for a client, you always hear them telling their friends "We are building a…?" It's never "We are having … built for us."

The most blatant version of this is when they say "Bill and I are building a house." What "Bill and I" are actually doing is paying someone else to build the house for us. But we never put it that way. We want to imply that "Bill and I" are actually the ones swinging the hammers and cutting the timbers. We also want the world to understand that "Bill and I" designed the house, engineered all of the structural elements, laid out the mechanical systems and did all the landscaping too. Never mind that there were probably a hundred or more people, none of whom were named "Bill and I" who actually did all of the above. In truth, "Bill and I" did little more than write the checks.

There is a reason for this. People want authorship of whatever is being built. They want to be the ones who did all of that designing and engineering and building. They want and need us to do this work but they don't want us to claim any authorship of our own. They would prefer that we simply and quietly evaporate after the work is done.

It might sound like I'm coming down pretty hard on "Bill and I" but I'm really not. I realize that this is human nature. We all have a need to create, to build, to perform productive work. And there is very little of that need that is satisfied by writing a check. So part of the job is to be able to allow "Bill and I" to have the visceral satisfaction of convincing themselves that they were the ones who actually did your work. It might just be the most important part.

Related Articles