Archive for the ‘Writing to build community’ Category
Hint: It’s a crazy idea that just might work
Can you ever see from someone else’s point of view?
“No,” some say. We are entirely bound by our own way of seeing. All the world lays before us—all the friends and enemies and acquaintances and mobs, the institutions, the physical world, all the influences, everything that is, was and ever will be (amen)—all of which we perceive from our own vantage point. We fill our brain pan using our eyes, our ears, our sense of touch, our taste buds, our sense of smell.
It’s always me looking out at you.
There are manufactured instances, though. Huge numbers have already bought Star Wars: The Force Awakens tickets for the very experience of looking out at a favorite world through JJ Abram’s eyes, who happens to be channeling George Lucas’ story-brain. We reread Harry Potter or Tom Sawyer for the joy of seeing from someone else’s perspective.
Stories get us close to seeing from someone else’s eyes.
A primary challenge in teaching copywriting to English students is asking them to see from someone else’s perspective. It’s an invitation to awaken the force (as it were) of caring about someone else’s issues and feeling the weight they feel. And though we see and feel imperfectly, it is enough to begin to engage our imagination. And it is precisely the imagination-engaged that produces satisfying, potentially useful copy that has a chance of meeting some human need.
I want to think that as we age, we become better able to see from someone else’s perspective. But my experience says otherwise: it is all too easy to let my world close in to include only what impacts me directly.
Hard work, it is, to begin to see from someone else’s perspective.
And good work.
Dumb Sketch: Kirk Livingston
I’ll be absent for a month or so.
November is National Novel Writing Month. Last year I wrote the 50,000 word Fresh Water Fetish. This year’s 50,000 words are dedicated to story and explication around what it means to live a creative life. This may be a novel. It may be creative non-fiction. But in 30 days and 50,000 words I’ll have a better idea.
If, in my absence, you wonder what “conversation is an engine” might say about any particular topic, just type your term in the search bar. There are more than 1130 posts here–feel free to browse.
Alternatively: write your own novel for NaNoWriMo!
Feed your existential intelligence
I’m gearing up to teach again: freelance copywriting and social media marketing. My understanding of communication and writing and the volunteer social-media tethering we do continues to evolve. I can talk and teach and speculate about what works for communication and how to provide what a client needs. I can talk about how we need to help our clients think—that is a piece of the value-add a smart copywriter brings to a relationship. But these days I’m seeing more limits and caveats—especially in the promises inherent in social media.
These are English students and communications and journalism. Some business students. Juniors and seniors. Many are excellent writers. Many, if not most, have worked hard to develop an existential intelligence, as Howard Gardner puts it. I teach at a Christian college, and from very many discussions with students, I know they will seek a place for faith in their life and work and life-work balance. Many if not all are just as eager to make meaning as they are to find a job.
That pleases me.
That’s one of the reasons I like to teach there.
One thing I’ve learned is that work alone does not satisfy the meaning-making part of life. Nor does work itself feed the existential intelligence. Craft comes close. Especially when we grow in our craft as we seek to serve others. But work and craft and meaning-making must be purposefully-pursued.
Because if we don’t pursue them, we fall prey to entertainment. We gradually anesthetize ourselves and starve the existential intelligence with the well-deserved zone-out time in front of the big screen TV. I’m starting to wonder if some of our social media habits also starve our existential intelligence.
I wonder because I wrestle with these impulses.
No. One does not fall into meaning-making. It takes work to make meaning.
I suppose that is the work of a lifetime.
Dumb sketch: Kirk Livingston