Author, advertising and
publishing consultant, former
editor of Chicago and other
magazines, former creative
director of Campbell-Ewald and
other advertising agencies. For
more information, click here. Or
see Who's Who in America or
Consulting editor, historian, poet
and author of several books. For
more information, click here or
BLOGS and GLOBS: I have
been writing a blog since 1966,
only I didn't know it. In those
days, it came out in the form of a
newsletter on paper. Remember
paper? It never got lost in
cyberspace, although if it got wet
enough blog turned into glob. I
called it The Uncommentator,
and tried to make it amusing. To
read some of my favorites, see
Recent Books by the Frisbies.
I DIDN'T RAISE MY SUBCONSCIOUS TO BE A CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR
I subcontract all my work to my subconscious.
For example, a client calls me in and says, "Forget what I told you yesterday. We have a new marketing strategy. What we need you to do is dramatize it in a brilliant new way." I go back to my office and summon Subconscious. "You heard what they said," I tell him. "Now get busy. Remember, the answer has to be brilliant."
In due course, S.C. gives me the answer. Itís convenient when this happens while Iím sitting at my desk. Frequently, S.C. ambushes me walking along the street or underwater in the pool at the YMCA. I strongly discourage him from waking me at night. He says many major scientific discoveries have been delivered at night. I tell him to allow for the amount of billing involved. If his idea is really valuable, O.K.; otherwise save it till after breakfast.
This morning, the assignment was this newsletter. I outlined to him what I had in mind. I told him I didnít want any newsletters about writing a newsletter. I have noticed that newspaper columnists sometimes fall back on writing a column about the difficulties of writing a column. When they do, I conclude they are burned out and would benefit from a few shifts on the police beat to put them back in touch with the real world.
I stared out the window for a while and watered the plants. S.C. came in, saying, "Iíve got a good idea for your new business presentation next week."
I said, "Never mind that. Today is newsletter day. You really have to be more disciplined in your work habits." I might as well have talked to myself. S.C. persisted in describing his presentation idea. I had to admit it wasnít bad.
Since it required props, I went out to buy them while S.C. continued to work on the newsletter. Before I left, I showed my good will by sharpening a few more pencils for him. He likes to have a lot of sharp pencils lying around, although he rarely uses them for anything other than doodling when he should be working.
On the way back, I stopped to browse at a bookstore. Someone jiggled my elbow. It was S.C., recalling a quotation and asking, "Was it Ring Lardner or Damon Runyon who wrote that?"
"Let me explain something to you," I replied. "I donít care. Shut up with your literary allusions and get to work on the newsletter."
But, of course, I did care. The question nagged at me until I phoned the reference department at my favorite library and put it to them. Although having Subconscious do all the work is a great benefit, he does sometimes make a nuisance of himself by raising irrelevant questions and proposing grandiose schemes.
"I have been thinking how to make the office in Arlington Heights more efficient," S.C. said. "All you have to do is install another electrical circuit and replace the casements with windows that donít swing inward and knock things over when the wind blows. That would permit some new ways to arrange the furniture."
I was beginning to lose patience. I told S.C., "If you donít focus your attention immediately on the newsletter and get it done, I wonít take you with me to Paris after Easter. Iíll go without you."
Unperturbed, S.C. came up with a name I was trying to think of this morning ó the name of an acquaintance who greeted me on Michigan Avenue. A lot of good it does me now.
The phone began to ring. I quickly got rid of an investment salesman, a personnel agency and a person trying to call the bus depot in a language apparently derived from neither Latin nor German.The library called back with the answer to my question. The quotation was from a Ring Lardner story, "The Immigrunts":
"Are you lost, Daddy?" I asked tenderly. "Shut up," he explained.
I asked S.C. what he was doing. He said he was thinking of a better way to format an audiovisual script on our computer. Keeping the copy in two columns can be tricky. "Iíll fire you," I ranted. "Iíll get a new subconscious."
Although the outburst made me feel better, I knew I was wasting my time. S.C. is cool. Nothing frightens him. Sometimes I can hurry him by enlisting his sympathy for the urgency of a situation. If I hurt his feelings he sulks. For a moment, I feared I rashly had said too much.
Fortunately, he took no offense. "One, you couldnít find your way around the block without me," he said, "let alone all the way to Paris. Two, your newsletter is done."
And so it was.