The long shot: taking the time to stand out in word and deed

In writing, briefer is often better, but there’s only so much you can leave out, before, in fact, you’ve left out everything. Like the truth of your life story, for example. Or the guts and glory of a real competitive advantage you hold in the marketplace. Not everything worth saying can be collapsed into a[…]

The inaccurate insult: how politics makes for idiotic word choices

During a break between observing focus groups for an unrelated project, with nothing but M&Ms for sustenance, I started researching an essay I was writing about former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. The client happened to walk up, and, bored as I was, he glanced at my screen. “Janet Napolitano,” he said, “what an idiot.” “Hold[…]

Sex and sleep: what’s the difference?

If an observer from another reality suddenly started reading American English, they could easily conclude that our culture holds the act of slumbering with others – thy neighbor’s wife, the enemy—as highly taboo. Indeed they would be led to believe, whether or not rapid eye movement in fact ensued, either for one party or the[…]

Two stories within one: ghost writing that reveals both sides

Good book writing reveals that a story is never just about one thing. Ted Turner’s autobiography Call Me Ted tells a lot about Turner’s expansive business career. But the writing is personal enough to also convey the restlessness born out of aleniation from his hard-driving, alcoholic father. So while Amazon lists it as a business[…]

Owning the edge: signaling difference when claims all sound the same

I heard London Calling by the Clash playing on the Muzak in the frozen food aisle of Trader Joe’s recently. I quite enjoyed hearing it, but had to chuckle: If the Clash is playing on Muzak, where is the edge these days? It’s gotten so cool to be different, that everybody claims to be different, typically[…]

Writing into seashells

The Online Etymology Dictionary conjectures that the term niche, so relevant in all things marketing today, evolved  from nicchio, an Italian term for “seashell”. That’s illuminating, because  what is good copywriting or good writing in general if not the endeavor to draw audiences out of their shells, to buy what you’re selling or read what you’re writing.[…]

Books and boredom in Las Vegas

If art is about invention, why are so many artists inventing themselves into a corner, where they have few options to thrive and particularly to earn? I recently attended the Las Vegas Book Fair, a weirdly sinless event for that city. An MFA student from UNLV read a short piece to an audience of about four,[…]