Thursday, March 10, 2011

"Hey, could you make this a little more, uh, average?"

I pitched an idea to a local magazine to use the library of 500 stories that is the Wild Wild East Dailies for a new column and they said they'd consider it. I sent a 6-10 story suggestion for updating blog posts I had done on a variety of subjects from movie reviews, to observations, some satire, music and more, all with the voice that had become that particular blog. Wild, Wild, as you might say. The voice here is different, for different purpose. But the voice on WWED came from a part of my life that I will never experience again and I will never write quite exactly like that again - so it sort of lives in the voice in which it was written. Holden Caulfield was never heard from again for a reason.

A few days after I sent my story samples, I received a note from the editor and three samples from their magazine. "Do you think you could revise your style to be  little more like these?". he asked.

So I read the stories he sent me. He had written one of them. But the interesting thing is that  in moving from story to story, they all had a sameness, a sort of soft edge. There was nothing particularly wrong with them, but there was nothing particularly right about any of them either. They were just sort of straight reporting with little personal angle - and this is a feature publication, not a newspaper. The writing sucked. You could have switched the writing credits between all three and you wouldn't really know the difference.

So I asked myself the question, "Could I make my stories like theirs?",  and the answer was, "not really". But if I'm asked to write newer things in a style similar to something I am given for example, sure. In Korea I taught myself to write brochure copy for the Korean Ministry of Finance. I simply read all the brochures from Financial Times writers before me and put what personal twist I could on that. I learned the lingo and tone they needed and, maybe only because I was a white guy, got it approved with little issue. I got ten grand for a 36 page brochure. It was good money. It wasn't exactly War and Peace, but I was happy with it for what it was. Similarly, I've written for American Airlines, Nintendo, and a plethora of diverse clients and they all need their own particular 'voice'. Not my voice, their voice.

And so it is for work I did for my own purpose, as my own client. It can be edited, revised, updated and have the four letter words taken out where needed, but it can never sound like other stuff that was written from a completely different point of view by other people. Because after that, it's just not fun, or interesting or me. The book Wild Wild East and recently retired blog, the Wild Wild East Dailies are now capsules in time. Products if you will. My job is to sell them as such and preserve as much of the attitude as possible in their publication.

D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
Find me on TwitterFacebook or LinkedIn. Read my blog: The Wild Wild East Dailies and keep up on our efforts with aSaigon/CreativeMorning.

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D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
Find me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Read my previous blog: The Wild Wild East Dailies.