Thursday, August 1, 2019

Letter to a disconsolate copywriter.

I’d be lying if I didn’t own up to something.

I’ve been having a hard time at work of late.

This is not, really, startling. The only thing potentially startling about it is that most often today people put a pangloss on life. It’s rare to hear someone admit that they’re angry or hurt or feeling passed-over or underpaid or neglected. Or simply, not valued.

Everybody feels that way sometime.

They feel that way at work, with their lovers, with their friends, kids. Who knows, they might even feel that way with their golden retriever, but I doubt that.

Being hurt and disappointed and disconsolate about those feelings is a big part of life.

How you deal with those feelings is an even bigger part.

To help myself rebound when I’m feeling like all those old Mississippi blues singers are singing about me, I reach out to friends. I talk to people who know me. Who have known me for years. Who like me--for all my crap, and bullshit, and my odious characteristics.

I don't believe in things like god. But I do believe you can be touched by people who have holy in them. Sometimes you don't even know them and they appear.

We’ll have a cup of coffee or a walk around the block. Or sometimes we’ll just type to each other. Usually I’ll hear a phrase or a sentence, either from them or from my own lips, that nudges me out of my torpor. That reassures me that I’m ok.

There are some things you shouldn’t try to handle on your own. Feeling down on yourself is one of them.

I’ve also been lucky through the years to have people who have believed in me and who have expressed that belief in thoughtful notes. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul…I truck out some of those notes. I breathe in their essence like oenophiles do the fragrance of wine.

I leave these here not because they were written for me. But because they might, someday, help you. You know on those days, those inevitable days, when you feel worse than shit.

(BTW. I’m leaving the typos and misspellings as I received them. It makes the note feel more real and immediate to me.)


Look, you have to have a certain amount of faith in the power of two things:  creative work that is genuinely insightful and well crafted and the willingness to put in the time to do things right.

If you do those things, smart clients love you because their work gets results.  And the others fall by the wayside because hard work trumps a title in the long run. 

It can be a tortuous path, I admit.  You are envied for your portfolilo and envied because the people with money and influence look to you for help - and they can't figure it out (because if they did, they'd have the same relationships). 

But it's better and more rewarding than people who walk around with big titles and empty portfolios.  (Or even worse, the terrible sycophants who glue themselves to a higher up and walk around kissing somebody or other's ass because it's all that stands between them and unemployment.)  If you have the work and the integrity, you get more options.  You have smarter clients.  You have more integrity.  And, if you save your money, you can always walk away and find gainful employment in any number of forms.  The priviledge of the righteous or something.

Ina ny organization of any size, there will always be naysayers and doubters and obfuscators and people who want to distract you with nonsense.  They will find fault with what you do and how you do it - but they will do nothing themselves.  They don't know how.  And they fear people who do.

But there will always be annoyances and distractions in large organizations - keep your eyes on the prize, make the work great, and the world will be your oyster.  If we don't right the problems here one day, we'll all go elsewhere and be successful for somebody else.  That's the ultimate power of knowing how to make things happen.

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