Monday, October 12, 2015

Woody Allen, Norman Mailer and the Bukake Phenomena

I know this post will have the appearance of me whoring my new book (and we can never have enough of that) but trust me it's not.

Resisting all temptation, I will not even include a link to the 67,314th best selling book. Or even a gratuitous shot of the cover -- particular since a hi-res version sits directly to the right.

But seriously, this post is not about selling the book. It's about writing the book. More accurately, taking on the endeavor to get the book out there.

Because therein lies the greatest reward.

If you are an advertising copywriter or art director -- and my amazing research staff tells me you are -- or even if you have the slightest creative inkling, you know how difficult it can be to take the flint of an idea all the way to fruition.

In the corporate world it just doesn't happen.

There are a thousand "No's" for every qualified "yes". And for every qualified "yes" there are a hundred ass-covering sycophants who don't sharpen a pencil without cc'ing the Boss. And for every clueless boss there are the privileged few in the C-Suite, who have Peter Principled their way to the top and have no problem saying, "this is nice, but we need to go in a different direction."

If I've seen this phenomena once, I've seen it 1,894 times in my career. Not that I've been counting. Or keeping track. Or writing names down on a list.

Let's say an idea does make it to the point where invoices are created and checks are being written. Let's say you're moving into production.

That's when the real fun begins.

It's been said that success has many fathers. I'm not fond of that imagery. It denigrates fatherhood and it diminishes the sense of responsibility. In the ad world, if an idea moves forward, it's more like a thousand-participant bukake.

(I'll pause here to let those who are unfamiliar with the term, Google it.)

By the time everyone and anyone has "put their two cents in", the thing that started as an idea now looks like an industrial accident at a lotion factory.

"Clean up on Aisle Five... And aisle six... And seven."

Which brings me back to the book. Again, no selling.

Three years ago, I had this crazy thought that I should experiment with longer form writing. Longer than the 700-800 words that usually go into a blog post. I learned that most short stories are about 4,000 to 5,000 words in length. So I started digging through my mental files for stories I had accumulated in my 44 years on this Earth. Then I started writing them out.

The first few were no good. I decided to switch from first person to third person. And freely borrowed some techniques from Woody Allen, Jean Shepherd and even fellow copywriter Shalom Auslander. I took my time and slowly amassed a collection that met my admittedly low standards.

Yes, I had help from my friends Robert Prins (who designed the cover) and Rachel Plecas (who did the first round of proofreading) and Theo Wallace (who did the second round of proofreading) and Bonnie Miguel who helped with the formatting, but in the end, my idea for a book became a book.

And it came out better than I thought it would. Without the watchful eye of an ECD or CCO. Or  meaningless input from a client who has never crafted anything more complicated than a bowl of macaroni and cheese. Nevertheless, it's something I can look at and say it's good and was worth the work.

Mind you, the Pulitzer people are not gathered around the table for late night discussions on the merits of the storytelling…

"The intricate weaving of Feldman's professional woes and his personal demons reminds me of the early works of Norman Mailer."

But there is an undeniable satisfaction stemming from the simple fact that I did what I set out to do. "How satisfying?" you might ask.

Ironically, I'm at a loss for words.

No comments: