Friday, 31 July 2009

The hardest thing I have ever had to do

When I was a wee nipper, back at school (yes, that school), I used to scoff at so much that people wrote. (Hell, who'm I kidding? I still scoff at things people write.)

Specifically, though, what I mean is: I used to scoff – from a child's perspective – at things that adults wrote. What my teachers wrote, in particular.

The school magazine (a ridiculously otiose and protracted tome laughably entitled The Bromsgrovian, as if this were some kind of proud statement of acclaimed identity or tribal allegiance to rank alongside 'The Washingtonian' or 'The Royalist' or 'The Freemason' or 'The Confederate' ... oops, there I go again, scoffing away. Tsk.) ... sorry, as I was saying (David will no doubt object to my laboured syntax, here, as I interrupt my own sentence (twice now) with extended parenthetical observations. So be it. This is how the Hooligan rolls; how the Hooligan rocks.)

[Actually, let's chuck in a paragraph break, while we're at it. David will like that.]

... The school magazine (as I was saying, you recall?) was often crammed with laughably simpering, cliche-ridden tripe.

Meanwhile, termly letters from the headmaster opened – with elbow-ingestingly horrific frequency – with an account of the growth or retraction (depending upon season) of assorted foliage in the school grounds. Autumn, for instance, would invariably be heralded by a headmasterly paragraph on the falling of leaves from the trees around the green. Spring would feature the crocuses (oh! the crocuses!) ... and so on.

Even those teachers whose creative intellect I respected immensely (a group, I might add, that did not include aforementioned headmaster) seemed curiously unable to avoid similar blandness.

In my naive (yet simultaneously sardonic and hypercritical) youth, I could not understand how the authors of these assorted articles and missives could bear to dribble out such tired, anaemic shit.

It seemed to me at the time that I was one of the privileged few who were able to elude such triteness – to cut through the blancmange of cliche with the hacksaw of ironical self-consciousness combined with knowing self-parody and dry disclaimers.

(That's quite a hacksaw, you're thinking.)

Just cast in a few self-aware parentheses (the young Hooligan observed) and it'll all be fine.

But now – now that I find myself writing copy for this place (and, on occasion, this place, whose website I am soon to set about phoenixing the ass thereoff) – I realise with sober horror that ducking out of cheesy writing is the easiest and most self-indulgent thing in the world.

Because serious, non-self-parodic copywriting is the most fucking difficult thing I ever have to do.

No question.

All your defences are stripped away like so much wet tissue clinging to, um, the bowl of a blocked loo, um, being stripped away by, um, some powerful corrosive chemicals or something.


You're suddenly talking to an audience who is not even remotely interested in you or your cleverness. You're talking to an audience who is not interested in you, because (get this, you post-adolescent, attention-seeking squirt) you are not even remotely significant.

Your wit
don't count
for ...

... anything.

Writing 200 words about a school concert is several thousand times harder than writing a 2000-word pastiche in the style of Thomas Carlyle, or taking the piss with perfectly-poised irony out of WB Yeats. (Not that I decry the latter.)

Or writing this incredibly lame blog, for that matter.

I've got more to say about this. But I think I'll spill over into a second post, tomorrow. Ever since my 1,000-word spree, after all, I'm all about serialisation.

Tune in next time, then, for more about the agony of small-time copywriting, landing-page creation and ... probably some more stuff that occurs to me later.

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