Every day, or nearly every day, at work, I hear with the persistence of a fly that won’t stop buzzing in your ear, that no one no one no one reads anymore and that we must write copy shorter shorter shorter because people have attention spans the length of the aforementioned fly.
It doesn’t matter that statistics show that more books are being published in Amerika than ever before. It doesn’t matter that even this humble blog--which is all words-- reaches nearly 20,000 readers on a typical week. It doesn’t matter if you quote Howard Gossage and admit, “people don’t read ads. They read what interests them. And sometimes it’s an ad.”
No, we are to subsume what we know and comply to this dumbed down edict that even though the “Times” can run a “most read” article on a pencil factory, of all things, we live under this Trumpean nonsense that no one anymore reads. And so our copy gets shorter and less persuasive than ever, and soon we’ll wonder why advertising, such as it is, is no longer effective.
In any event, all this is to say that last night I had the strangest dream. I was taken by some clients to a restaurant, a very nice restaurant. It was just me and them, none of my work cohorts, and after having had a bit of nice conversation and more than a sip or two of our drinks we got up to go to the salad bar.
Only it wasn’t a typical salad bar like the one we went to in Kansas City that time. Instead of various leafy greens and tomatoes and the like, this salad bar was different. There were bowls of course and heaping plates and platters, but rather than being filled with comestibles and vegetables, this was an “all-you-can-write” salad bar.
“George,” my clients told me, “we took you here especially.” I hardly heard them for I was reaching for a pair of oversized tongs and grabbing out of a deep bowl of gerunds. I piled those “ings” on my plate and moved down the row of offerings.
Let me get some prepositions, I scooped. Oh, and there’s an imperative. I took a dozen, looked around to see if anyone was looking and spooned in a dozen more.
I sidled down the line, my plate already, heaping with parts of speech. Man, I said to myself, pronouns! I ladled a heap onto my plate tasting a few along the way. Delicious, I thought. They I came to a lazy Susan full of verbs and I went to town.
In just about five minutes my plate was brimming with parts of speech, and I headed back to our table. But my clients were no longer there. In fact, the table was no longer there. No tables were, nor, looking back was the word-salad bar. The whole thing had disappeared like a fist when you open up your hand.
I looked down at my plate. All that was on it was a desiccated carrot stick and a few small leaves of spinach. I dumped them surreptitiously onto the floor and then I woke up.
And wrote this.
All of which you’ve read.