Thursday, October 31, 2013


About ten years ago when I had a big office my wife decided to help me decorate it with some former tools of my trade. She bought me a working 1920s Smith-Corona typewriter, a stand-up model that was boxy and upright and measured around two-feet by two-feet by two-feet.

Some years after that, I picked up a small portable Olympia in robin’s-egg-blue. Since I now inhabit a corner, rather than a corner office, I’ve never taken either of them in to work. There is simply no place for personality in the modern work space. Besides, these machines are relics and it’s likely I’d be regarded as one if I had these typewriters with me.

Still, they are great machines. Iconic in their own way of the eras in which they thrived. And who knows what was typed on them by owners before me, rivers of prose or columns of numbers or, simply, letters telling people that their rent was overdue.

I was thinking this morning about writing and about this blog. My readership, for whatever reason, has dropped precipitously—I’m down to about 200 visitors a day—and I worry that the whole thing is getting tired. At times writing, which often comes easily to me, has been strained of late. Even my passing nights at the Tempus Fugit have become less exhilarating.

So, in short, I am not getting joy where I so often do, from the work, the craft, the fitting together of words into sentences into thoughts and ideas. I’ve been thinking that maybe writing has become all too Mac-ized, quiet, efficient and simple. Maybe, I’ve been thinking I should bring back one of my old typewriters. Maybe I need to hear and feel writing. The clackety clack of the keyboard, the grind of the paper being cycled in the roller, the ding-whirr of a line being finished and a new one started. Maybe I miss the visceralality of typing, actually, physically typing on a real mechanical keyboard.

Of course that’s stupid. The computer is infinitely easier, faster, smoother. I will stick to the world’s knitting and use the world’s accepted devices. I will get out to my writing slump and will be able to write again. But for now, I look longingly at dead machines.


Rob Hatfield said...

I hope it helps for you to know that I derive great pleasure from your writing. It sends me to the dictionary regularly, therefore expanding my vocabulary. And I actually look forward to seeing New York and your world of advertising through your eyes on a daily basis. It strikes me that even though I am in Alabama at a very small agency, the issues and indignities we face are surprisingly similar. Although I do have an office. for that I am thankful.

Todd said...

I find that three things fuel my writing:

1. Anger
2. Enthusiasm
3. Coffee

I remain a loyal reader.

Anonymous said...

I think your venom towards the younger gen, all things digital, and the agency you work at has turned off a chunk of your following. I'd urge you not to become a ranter. You're clearly bright, articulate and very well read..use that as a jumping off point to something else to write about. When it becomes unbridled, smug carping its a guaranteed readership killer.



The problem is purpose for a blogger in our industry, and that is to criticize it. Praising it and promoting it and kissing its ass is the province if the trades.

But criticizing something everyday of the week becomes tiresome, thankless, and exhausting. Believe me, I know.

Anonymous said...

Please don't give up this blog. I, too, learn a lot from reading your posts, but mostly they bolster my spirits on the days I leave the office feeling wrung out. They give me hope that there are others of us out there who are fighting the good fight, every day.

Rich Siegel said...

More unbridled, smug carping please.

Tore Claesson said...

I think you have to be even angrier. Then it will be truly impossible to miss.

davetrott said...

George, why are you bothered about numbers?
I thought your original purpose was to write for yourself, for the pleasure of writing.
Who cares if no one reads it as long as you love doing it?
Don't turn it into another fucking job.

Owen Stevens said...

Sound advice about the numbers. Thanks Dave. I'll remember that one myself. As for the typewriter. Bought myself a Remington 5 deluxe 1942. I can hear it smell it feel it. There isn't an app for that and there never will be. There are only two blogs I read regularly. And this is one of them.

Mark Wanczak said...

As a member of the "younger gen. all things digital" that Anonymous reference in his comment, I think your blog is immensely helpful in keeping all thing advertising in perspective. It's easy for those starting their careers to drown in all the digital Kool-aid without fully understand how things were done prior to Facebook and how those things are still effective.

This group of bloggers (George, Bob, Rich, Trott, etc) has taught me more in one week than Mashable or AdAge will in a year. I've been reading all of you for years, please don't change a thing.

You're the constant lighthouse in a misleading, trend-chasing sea.

Jeff said...

Giving up writing your blog? That's just crazy talk. Besides, as a friend once told me, venom is your best medium. As far as typewriters go, I can't tell you how badly I miss my IBM Selectric. I even posted about it in my blog, which by the way has considerably fewer readers than yours:


Kate said...

Take a break if need be. Rest. Get your energy levels back up. But please don't quit the blog permanently, it's one of my personal favourites. Look after yourself, George.

Adrian said...

As a young-ish, in comparison to you anyways, copywiter, I second the other comment about learning more from you, bob and trott than I have from anywhere else.

Not that you should give a shit about the numbers, but I notice you have about 200 people who read your posts via feedly every day. So you're doing twice as well as you thought.