“We Speechwriters Don’t Get No Respect”

A 1983 essay by late longtime speechwriter William Gavin cites much of the same frustration we have today. Pride, too.

Vital Speeches rhetoric editor Neil Hrab dug up a fine 1983 Washington Post essay, “We Speechwriters Don’t Get No Respect.” The late longtime speechwriter William Gavin’s piece, which contends that the speechwriter is the most important person on a political campaign staff, is worth a read in its entirety. But its conclusion satisfies on a Friday.

Working at this craft offers little fame, few soaring moments of artistic creation and none of the satisfactions other writers may have in knowing that no matter how flawed their work is, it is theirs. A writer gives birth to his work; a speechwriter is in a sense a midwife—we assist, but only the politician can bring the words into the world.

Yet there is one satisfaction and it is not a small one. Writing—any kind of writing—brings you in touch with your imagination, your dreams and memories. Speechwriting enables us to every day use these aspects of our being.


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