No! Bad! Stop!

This is a conversation I hate to have, at work:

“I was thinking, uh…could you do it like this?”

“Like that, in what way?” (The awkward shapes? The messy lines? That sense of deliberate incompetence?)

“I don’t know. Just…like that. The feel, y’know?—if you could do something like that, but in your style.”

“So, draw you a horse?”

“But like that horse.”

“A spotted horse?”

“Not spotted, necessarily. Just sort of…the look of it. The general…when you look at a picture, and you’re like, that’s what I want. You know it when you see it.”

(I don’t, though. I really don’t. I see a horrible glob of horsey confusion…and it’s leering at me.)

There’s a literary equivalent, too—you get a bit of awful writing: “and this is the style we’re after.” And you read it, and you laugh, ’cause it says “the sound of the wind blew over the waves, and the sound of the ocean was also perfectly audible,” and that’s not how you describe the shore. That’s not how anyone describes the shore. But at the same time, you despair, because how do you emulate that, without seeming like you’re poking fun?

I suppose you get that in every job. All the creative ones, anyway. Probably in software development, too: “make it like Microsoft Word, only not, and with the cloud.”

Damn it, man…you and the horse you rode in on, huh?