Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The manic muttering of an overwhelmed writer

I have been pleasantly busy at work today, just one level below "slammed" -- it's a good pace and keeps me interested without stressing me out too much. However, I've been working on this paragraph for several hours now. Yes. One paragraph. Other copywriters will know what I mean (Babs) when I say sometimes three to five sentences are the hardest of all! Gosh, I can babble on for pages, given the opportunity, it's the "paring down" and making it "exciting" part of my job that gets me.

Those who know me know that I like to talk. Just a little bit. And I like to tell stories. Shoot, if you've been reading my blog for awhile -- well there you go. So the irony of my job is not lost on me -- that I spend most of my days cutting, cutting, cutting my brilliiant copy to fit a tiny space designated by an art director who doesn't even read it. Tech writing was somewhat like that, in that I edited everything to be more concise. The trouble w/advertising is you're trying to say something really impactful in as few words as possible. Not only must it be concise, but GRIPPING. Thus, one paragraph can indeed take several hours and I'm NOT retarded.
Here's an example:

Normal Sentence:
The dog decided to chase the cat through the living room, over the couch, around the chair, down the hallway and up onto the ledge by the staircase.

Tech Writing Edit:
The dog chased the cat around the house.

Marketing/Ad Edit:
The determined dog chased the crafty cat throughout the tiny house, over the shabby-chic furniture, and finally onto the only dangerous precipice he could find. He then waited patiently for the cat to plunge to her death. But after about 5 minutes of waiting and watching, the dog became distracted and wandered off to find a bone. The cat sighed and jumped delicately to safety, heading under the bed to nap for awhile before the antics could begin again. She called this pastime "Kitty Cardio" and swore it helped her stay svelte.

Ok, so forget "concise" in this case...

Anyway. So I'm sitting here busily working on my paragraph, cruising around and trying to find better words. But I suddenly realized that I was MUTTERING out loud for all to hear. It must have sounded much like this:
"Special.... hmm. Best? Different? Uh, no... AHA -- Distinguished! Perfect."
And onto the next adjective.
Then it occurred to me: do I always do this? Do I talk to myself when I don't even realize it? OMG. I am in a cube, with a mere two inches of fabric protection on three sides, and EVERYONE can hear me!!! They must think I'm crazy. The crazy copywriter who swears and mutters all day. Great.

I quickly messaged another writer, who sits diagonally from me, and asked him if he could hear me. He was like, "which time? just now? or earlier, when you dropped your lipstick?"

Whoa. I mean, I knew I talked in my sleep, because I often wake myself up and find 4 cat eyes staring at me with disdain, but muttering? at work? Gotta stop that.

Let's see... stop?...or end. No. Desist? Nah........................ Oh, I know:

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