So… it’s been a month. A good month, with nice friends, a good church, good job, and so on. But not a very writing heavy month. Nothing on the Parish retreat, work, church, culture, financial education, a lovely supra… nothing on anything.
I’ve been working for nearly four and a half months now as a marketing intern; the company, people, and job are all good, and I suspect that many of us are more reticent about things we like than things we’re irritated by, and that sort of to the point.
I don’t know that I had fully appreciated the extent to which I assume that the main purpose of writing in general is an attempt to dig up some truth which is partly seen, glimmering in the intuition, and haul it into the open, so as to be capable of conscious consideration, resulting in either integration or amendment. That’s more or less what I’m working at now, and it’s the kind of activity I generally mean when I speak about essay writing. If I were to assess my own writing ability, it would primarily be concerning this. I would say that I was a good essayist if I found that I could consistently find and describe these observations so that others could see and consider them as well.
Of course, that’s not what marketing copy is like at all. I don’t so much write for my job as arrange text, and then adapt the text to integrate well with whatever design is happening around and through it. Even I was not so ignorant to suppose that the “writing” that goes on in observational excavation and the “writing” that goes on in advertisement are not the same sort or thing at all. What I hadn’t considered was that the habits of mind needed for each kind of work tend toward interference. The habits of mind I use in blog and essay are at least partly suppressed in design work, because the kind of judgement that can tell me whether a rack card is balanced visually, and the kind of reasoning that can tell me the underlying implications of the thing advertised have nothing to do with one another, and if I were to start in on the second kind of reasoning, I would never, ever be able to advertise it. At best I might be able to explain why it’s a good thing that it exists, and how it might potentially be a good idea for some people to get the loan it’s describing or whatever. But the kind of writing that leads to is not at all the kind of writing needed by a rack card.
That makes it sound like I’m actively trying to suppress the kind of thinking expressed in essays, rather than advertisements, which certainly isn’t the case — only just as concentrating on a drawing tends to preclude talking symbolically at the same time, so does design and “meanings” writing. It’s different than in teaching, where there’s a lot more interplay (and dissonance!) between being *in* a project, teaching specific techniques, expectations, and so on — and zooming “out” to decide what to teach, or whether to teach a particular assignment at all, and why; and then try to communicate that to students. That zooming out and wondering is very rarely a part of my daily work flow, because I’m given assignments to communicate, rather than coming up with something for myself. Also, if a student doesn’t “get” the purpose of an assignment, they tend to be pretty outspoken in demanding an explanation; if someone doesn’t want or need a product or service, they’ll simply ignore it.
I’m not sure where to go with this. I kind of like “unearthing meanings,” but perhaps not strongly enough to continue to do so when my daily activities encourage quite different ways of dealing with words and images.