Friday, June 06, 2008

This and that

On the road with Charles

I’m in Boise, Idaho this weekend for Murder in the Grove. If you’ve never been here, start by picturing what you think Boise looks like. Ok, you’re wrong. At least if you were thinking along the same lines as I was thinking before I got here. If I had to pick one word to describe Boise, it would be cosmopolitan. I know, it sounds wrong, but the place is lined with night clubs, art galleries, progressive (read Liberal) bookstores and coffee shops, cute little shops, interesting public art—it reminds me of a scaled-down version of Toronto’s North York area and parts of Queen Street or, if you’re from Rochester, the best parts of Park, East and Monroe avenues. No idea what the event will be like, but if it’s as eclectic and unexpected as the city, this is going to be a great event

Speaking of Great events, Bloody Words is taking place this weekend in the aforementioned Toronto. I am looking forward to a full report from Vicky and Rick.

And speaking of Rick, his last blog entry got me thinking (a lot) about writing as a career. As a copywriter, I can say I make my daily bread with my writing—well, not my writing, the writing I do for clients of Dixon Schwabl. I have been curiously surprised that I find writing ad copy creatively stimulating and—god forbid—fulfilling. I know, it’s advertising*, but the challenges are engaging and the creative energy in the place is invigorating. The writing I do for me is better because of the time I spend writing for them.

But the problem with being a writer—and this comes back to Rick and his dilemma—is that everyone can do it. No client ever looks at the graphic layout and thinks that they could have done it, but client after well-meaning client love to point out that they could have written the copy. “Two hours to write a billboard?” is a line I’ve heard often, followed by, “but it’s only five words.” They never say ‘five perfectly-selected words that sum up the essence of our brand, our message and our offer while simultaneously being clever and memorable and fresh, without being childish or offensive.’

Rick is a great writer, but to many folks it’s just lining up letters to make words and words to make sentences, something kids learn to do in kindergarten. Making it look easy? Well, that’s the trick, isn’t it?

*Be sure you say it with a dismissive, oh-how-crass, voice.

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