May 27, 2020

Congestion

Sometimes you just look at a word and it speaks to you.

I recently ramped up work with Gikken, a Berlin-based boutique Apple software company. Alex from Gikken introduced me to a newsletter called Dense Discovery. Upon reading Dense Discovery this evening, I tripped over an American indie magazine called Fifty Grande, wherein I was drawn to an article about folk artists living out of a van. I thought: Hey, that’d be pretty damn cool to live out of a van.” It’s a thought I’m sure you’ve humoured at some point. In that article, I read the word congestion. It spoke to me.

Why is congestion speaking to me? It’s kinda gross. What does it connote? Mucus? Traffic? Blockage? I’ve dealt with an embarrassing amount of glottal mucus all my life, having been raised in an agrarian suburb. We’ve taken a turn for the intimate.

No, these superficial connections were not, in this instance, what first came to mind. For some reason I read that word like it was brand new. Thought of the raw meaning of it—what might be a definition stripped of allegiance to any particular congestive circumstance. I got all philosophical.

I studied comparative religion in college. My brother asked me on a walk today whether I’m an atheist. I won’t get into that here. Brought this up because my philosophy of religion courses often used ancient allegories to illustrate spiritual concepts. Once meditated on a blueberry and felt it more intensely than some prior sexual encounters. Blueberries’ll do that to ya.

Congestion is something we deal with incessantly. Congestion of the mind. I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this but I’m trying to unearth something via writing. Little thought purge. Ain’t that what they recommend?

Making sense of it

Nothing makes sense—that’s why it’s called making sense. You ought to manufacture the sense yourself.

Congestion is a temporary status. If a passageway were perpetually blocked it wouldn’t be blocked at all because it wouldn’t be a passageway to begin with.1 Unless it began as a passageway like some Egyptian tomb that subsequently crumbled and was to remain in ruin for near eternity.

Let’s agree that it’s temporary. Shouldn’t congestion then be relievable? It often is relieved. Can that relief be facilitated manually? If we are discussing mental congestion, then surely it may be. Phobia, for example, causes a congestion that takes gradual chipping away at to allow for the passage of… well, some inverse2 of fear. Writer’s block, however, simply takes:

  • Two (2) parts bourbon.
  • One (1) part amaretto.
  • A spit of lemon juice.
  • A dewdrop of maple syrup.
  • Your evening mug met with ice.

Suddenly derailed

It’s time to sleep. If you too are due for a snooze, may we both awake without congestion, mental or otherwise.


  1. This could be super-simply sublimated by a base-level pupil of philosophical logic. If A is true and B depends on A… Something of axioms, propositions and the like.

  2. I tried and failed to think of one. Any I came up with felt forced and without substantial, confident evidence or example. May come back to this.

May 24, 2020

Frank had a small TV

The beginning of a letter from Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse:

Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder, wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping, confusing, itching, scratching, mumbling, bumbling, grumbling, humbling, stumbling, numbling, rambling, gambling, tumbling, scumbling, scrambling, hitching, hatching, bitching, moaning, groaning, honing, boning, horse-shitting, hair-splitting, nit-picking, piss-trickling, nose sticking, ass-gouging, eyeball-poking, finger-pointing, alleyway-sneaking, long waiting, small stepping, evil-eyeing, back-scratching, searching, perching, besmirching, grinding, grinding, grinding away at yourself. Stop it and just do.

It sat on Frank’s desk. While he hated referring to alleged quotes for inspiration, he knew this was some bona fide correspondence and he liked the sounds of the words in the long list when said. Frank considered that he would willingly give up all of Sol’s suggested verbiage besides boning if it would mean he could do in the sense of accomplishing something rather than ing-ing about it. Then he pondered the disparity between boning and doing and wondered profusely which provided more agency to that being boned or done. Or whether it should be them rather than that, for that matter—for their matter.

The phone rang, as they tend to do. Frank spat his toothpick into the deforested hectare of felled wood-pike disarray fencing a lousy perimeter round his desk chair.

Frank.” said Frank.

Frank I need you to tell me what’s on channel nine. It’s dire. Frank. Frank? Can you hear me? Turn to channel nine. Be a dear and tell me what’s on channel nine. Frank dear do it now. I know, I know, thank you Frank.” said a high-pitched voice across the telephone line.

As Frank listened to his name leak out her lips a dozen times, he pinched and spun around the embossed brass nameplate at the edge of his desk. The more he stared at the letters, the less they formed the name he’d been branded with much like that cheap metal rectangle who wore it better.

Elsewhere on the desk, a sticky note read: MILK, CHICKEN. Was stuck to a stapler spread open by its hinges almost as wide as the legs of Kermit the Frog, who leaned crookedly on a can of ale weighed down by a straight razor shaft sticking out of it that directed a fleck of light from its blade onto a chiseled section of wood whittled by a worried pen tip whose cap escaped this microcosmic crime scene for the great abandon of the corner behind the waste basket. A projector was set up, searing the ceiling with a tired bulb whose luminescence shone obscene shadows built by what lay on its lens-like surface each day as an extension of Frank’s desk. The common lamp was on backorder for the second time since some mysterious late-night circumstance had hopelessly toppled it.

Frank didn’t smoke. He simply liked the smell of cigarettes and carried the same pack of double gold-ringed Rohnsteins around for aromatic comfort. He withdrew a stick and popped it into Kermit’s perpetual jaw-drop where it wedged into the stitch of the fabric at his puppety gullet.

You still have my remote, Wendy.” said Frank.

I… Wendy trailed off.

The hole!” Frank shouted opposite the receiver, to the empty room.

Ah that. Let me see…”

The wall on the right rumbled a bit. Something rolled from a height and thudded on the floor. Papers shuffled. Then, a dot of red light appeared through a pencil-thin poke in the wall just under a nail-hung gloating plaque.

Nothing happened. Frank picked an apple core from a little plastic dish and lobbed it at the wall, striking the plaque so it spun on its nail and dislodged, clapping on the ground.

Eh fuh,” Frank mumbled.

The light dot shone again, longer. Then off. Then on. It blinked. In the opposite corner on a stout refrigerator box, a pale black screen jittered to life. Though the stodgy man had big dreams and an even bigger ocular prescription, Frank had a small TV.

Wendy suctioned her ear up to the wall, listening as she held steady the remote control and lathed its channel button over and over.

WALNUTS AND CHERRY OATS. ADULT CER…

Click.

WANTED TO KNOW WHO SHE WAS. SO I TOLD HER. SHE THOUGHT SHE COULD GO DOWN TO THE LORY DISTRICT AN…

Click.

SA-VANVANVAN RA-DUNDUNDUN SVAAA!”

Click, click.

Frank kicked his feet up. Wished she’d stayed on the orchestra. He watched the channels turn from the doubles back to single digits and up toward nine.

06, 07, 08…

May 20, 2020

Secret Project

I worked on something with someone a while ago. Sometime later, they reached out about a project they wanted me in on but provided no context. Secrets make life interesting.

As a test, they asked if I could provide a piece of copy to match the marketing speak of a company called The J. Peterman Company. Of course I could.

Never do free work” is the advice I ignored in this scenario, wanting to prove to this somewhat stranger and potential business partner that I was worth my salt. Though a portfolio provides free entry to one’s entire salt mine, I decided to fuck it and have fun writing something in the voice of J. Peterman. Not free work—free play.

Selling a t-shirt

Shirt

For mister algorithm. Greatness demands a clean slate.

Everything you cherish was made by someone comfortable. Someone practical, yet wildly creative. A furnace scrubbed of yesterday’s ash ready to rage again into the future.

A hardened minimalist doesn’t wear their heart on their sleeve. They wear their mind on their chest. Thought armour.

Speaking of chest, the Pragmatic Tee (No. 1023) sports a subtle front pocket. The shirt for every occasion knows that every occasion involves a bit of paperwork. Slide a movie ticket in there. Your visa to Cambodia, where you’re slated to scour the jungle for the fairest smelling lotus. A matchbox from that dim basement bar at The Goring where the man in snakeskin boots scribbled a cryptic address.

The tee is made for Living. Double-lattice officer sleeve seams. Singed interior folds for minimum friction. Quarter turn in-cuts and precision-measured waist length so your abdomen won’t get chilly with up-stretched arms gripping an aluminium helicopter skid. Let go when ready. You calculated the drop perfectly. Made in Indonesia.

Mystery man enjoyed the blurb, then Can you write something similar for a vacation rental as well?” Ah damn okay I guess. I found a photo of a fancy little Montanan cabin that reminded me of the game Firewatch. Great game, by the way.

Selling a vacation rental

Cabin

Montana, nature’s mistress. A winter white canvas stretched with flecks of sleeping timber and the humming tummies of silent hibernation. Where a silk wind is your closest friend.

Some folks take holiday when they’ve had enough. You’re the one who hikes to the top and doesn’t feel quite finished yet.

Whitefish Lookout takes you there. To the top. And then some. Three more flights some. It’s a candlewick in the stillness of landscape erased by slow snowfall. Safety in height. Cloud comfort.

The only danger? You’ll make Bond villains jealous. Less you invite them in. Impress em with Montana mountain vodka chilled in chipped ice from the lake down the forward footpath.

It’s a lookout because it looks out for you. Takes good care to. Sturdy electricity for smooth-pumping heat vents. A full kitchen decked with the right tools. Aged, air-dried timber fit with natural pine sap. Set it alight. Breathe in.

You’ll book a week or so at Whitefish, maybe longer, but you won’t take your time there—she’ll take it. Sew your time right into the fibers of woven thistle rug adorning her hardwood base. Walk barefoot across your own, personal eternity.

It’ll cost a bit to get here, but then so will any rejuvenating jaunt. What you’ll really pay with is that bit of soul left behind to revel with the rest. Maybe yours will play cards with Roosevelt among the pines, who can really know for sure?

He liked it. I enjoyed writing it. Great! We hopped on a call (I hate that phrase) and discussed the secret project. It was secret no longer. In fact, I’m currently working on it. Will it see the light of day? Perhaps. But you’ll have to write two creative bits for me to find out.

Nah, I’ll let you know when the time’s right. Or not at all. Some somethings turn to oncethings then to nothings. Doesn’t everything, eventually?

January 25, 2020

Rock-solid Marketing

Welcome to an incomprehensive case study on influencer marketing by yours truly. It involves a steak that’ll crack your chompers, Saudi Arabia, Indiana Jones, millions of followers, thousands of dollars, and a dirty river somewhere in southwest England.

Three relics

In 2019, I was working on Setapp. If you’re not familiar, it’s a SaaS product for Mac apps. I wrote a good chunk of the website, including the tagline and description right up front.

You found Setapp. The frontier platform that packs 170+ Mac apps into just one. A personally curated membership for $9.99/mo.

On the growth marketing team I was the, er, Full Stack Copywriter. The real title’s a bit different, but full stack sarcastically well-describes the breadth across which my texts covered the product.

Setapp had been around just under two years when I joined. The marketing budget was relatively huge due to funding from the company’s other, more stalwart product. We were throwing bills at people to promote Setapp, but we couldn’t get them to drip down the funnel into full membership because the product lacked real value.1

We had a lot of room for experimentation with a bubbling marketing budget. The backlog was long but made of safe tasks and one-offs. I wanted to take a risk, reaching beyond our usual door knocks and into completely new audience territory. Here’s what happened.

The Idea

At Setapp, the marketing team frequently contracted tech YouTubers to talk about how great Setapp is. This type of influencer marketing is only effective to an extent. Our audience is savvy and can see through paid promotion. In consumer nations, buyers are ever wiser about seeking authentic reviews and cutting through common advertising sewage.

My brother Kevin is inspired by travel influencers and content creators. The made-it’s of those pectoral fellows and fancified dames often promote products. But if you read the comments carefully, picking through the weeds, you can frequently spot jealous types or aspiring creators who are so damn curious about what equipment their idols are using to achieve such salivating shots. As if buying the exact camera and lens could somehow transport them to a Parisian rooftop with sideshow doves, caramel skies, Cartier watches and a pearl-toothed posse.

Eureka, bitch.

Content creation is at the core of Setapp. So is digital nomadism. Needing only your trusty Mac and a hearty imagination to get to those peculiarly clean roof cushions. I’d have those tiny, coincidental social media stars puff up Setapp.

The Pitch

Ads smell bad. We avoid them like a fart. And like a fart, it’s not always detectible when one’ll come along. So we install blockers. We click skip. We just close the damn page.

Is tasteful, authentic, thought-provoking product placement is the ideal? Or, is it the idol?

You’ve seen Indiana Jones. The one with the big rolling stone and the stout gold screaming lady. If not, pretend you have and don’t tell anyone you haven’t, then watch it.

Indiana Jones

To the Setapp growth marketing and PR teams, my pitch was this. Have rocks made like little Jonesian relics with the Setapp logo. Send them out to Instagram bigshots. Remember the tagline? You found Setapp. The influencers would play it like they’d discovered the relics, then spurt on about how they use Setapp to logisticize their journeys and edit the almighty, orgasmic content. Their audiences would be mystified and not the least bit offended by the authentically-placed stones set perfectly in their Adobe-augmented natural settings.

The Strategy

To pull this off, I’d need two main things: the rocks, and the people to show off the rocks. I didn’t have a budget for this campaign, just a tell me the cost and I’ll let you know”. Setapp’s got a dime or two for the fountain.

I spent an hour googling stone masons and emailed a few solid options with the brief. After narrowing down to three carvers intrigued by the idea, I had them send images of the type of stones they’d use. All of them were fantastic, but one fossil photograph really caught me. It drew me in.

Ben Russell, known professionally as The Dorset Stone Carver, was my man. Ben The Rock” Russell. Benny Rockwell. B Rock. He sent me photos of moss-dripped river rocks still wet with sheen. They were as I’d imagined, found relics. He told me he’d gone on a walk with his doggo and sniffed em out of a stream in southwest England. These were it. I set Ben to chop-chipping straight away.

Next. The influencers. Kevin supplied me with a list of his go-to guys and gals. I must have sent around 40 emails. Some went to the camera food directly, others went to their managers. I received quotes for one Instagram post with an accompanying story that would reference-link to Setapp. Please sip some liquid. The numbers I got back will eject it forcefully from your mouth hole.

The most expensive of the bunch, for one post with story, was $125,000. Yeah.

Most ranged from $2k to $20k, which is still a yikes amount of dough. Lower price range accounts had 120k+ followers and the higher tiers were in the millions. I was more interested in engagement ratios and authentic comments and audiences.

For a first run, we went with three folks. Two of them with more than a million followers and one with a bit more than 100k. They’d have full creative control so the content would match their brand aesthetics. I’d approve the photos and the captions. They’d just have to use our UTM-loaded referral link for conversion tracking and the hashtag #youfoundsetapp.

Contraband

This part was unforeseen. Setapp is based in Kyiv, Ukraine. It’s known to be one of the most corrupted places in Europe, despite getting bits better over the years since certain revolutions that further separated the country from Russia. Bureaucracy is a pain in the booty. And getting things through customs can be tricky.

When a box of 20 paper towel-wrapped stones with mysterious symbols on them arrived at the border, they were held up. I had to troubleshoot with Ben and we had to explain the project to the border agents. Don’t try shipping your cocaine in cut rocks.

When the rocks came through, some time was lost. Influencers were traveling around as they do and had to scrap ideas about how to integrate the rocks in their feeds when they’d leave a place having expected the rock to arrive. With the help of a very patient office manager, we shipped rocks around the world to various drop points ahead of when the phone-famous figures would arrive. We often missed the delivery mark. Despite slight lost collateral, it’s romantic to think of the missing rocks floating around a shack in Switzerland or a Bali bungalow. The lost relics make the found relics far more authentic. Unplanned serendipity.

The Outcome

You’re wondering how these puppies look. These pricey posts. Scroll on.

The first of the bunch. Jack Morris lives in Indonesia and this photo was taken at his terrible office. Who’d want to work there? The fresh air, natural light, smooth wooden desk and tickly Babylonian hanging vines. Sandals and hand-carved sundries. Nasi goreng for breakfast and coconut cocktails til dark. His rock is held in front of the majestic Mount Agung. I had the pleasure of meeting Jack by his home. Friendly guy and more down to earth than I’d expected.

Jack Morris

Sam Kolder sets himself in Hawaii among the hang gliders and sharks. Poke bowls and pig-pits. Kevin’s gotten leid there. This photo, however, was taken in what’s quickly becoming the wealthy tourist where-to, Saudi Arabia.

Sam Kolder

Not least, Slater Trout and his trapezii. A muscle-padded paddler and competition-winning surfer who shot some Setapp relic photographs in the States’ hot springs.

Slater Trout

Jack set the style and the others took note. This kept the content consistent while still residing within each of the influencers’ own brand styles. Couldn’t have turned out more brilliant. The comments are where it really gets interesting. They’re the meat of the posts, what really matters. Mmm, Setapp meat.2

Setapp steak

You’re not blind, my screenshots are rasterized, sorry about that. The steak reaction is hilarious. I love it. It’s this kind of response that sparks meme fuel. It also shows that the audience wasn’t offended by the advertising and could be playful right back.

Some sniffed out that it was an ad while others weren’t sure. This tinge of ambiguity is exactly what I was going for, but it’s also important that the brand message got across successfully, which it certainly seems to have.

Smart marketing

Others got pinched by the mystery of the relics, realizing that they must have been part of their celebrity’s adventurous lives. The rocks piqued brand interest, naturally.

Curiosity

And then there were those who named Setapp directly, promulgating the product further in parallel with famous promoters. Influencer marketing done right. Done well? Well done. I prefer medium-rare.3

Interest

I did warn you that this would be an incomprehensive case study. That’s because I’ve left Setapp and no longer have access to their analytics. Unfortunately, I can’t demonstrate ROI or throw conversion rates at you. Fortunately, numbers can be dry to some and you won’t have to dodge heavy airborne statistics. I like to look at this lack of closure in a different light, because marketing campaigns are worth more than their charts.

Any PR person worth their nutgraf will tell you that brand associations go deep. Setapp has now been seen by millions of content creators through the eyes of their idols. Well, their idols’ idols. The rocks. And each of the posts are immortalized on their respective feeds due to a removal contract clause. The You found Setapp. stones turn yet another SaaS product into a dream-creation machine. A mini tool of tools for personal growth. And achieving your Dubai-dancing dreams are worth far more than Setapp’s monthly sterling setback.

Staying Hard

Couldn’t resist the subhead.

Manufactured value or produced product passion? This exercise in influencer marketing was not cheap, but to make money you’ve gotta have it. I’m still wrestling with the moral implications of selling a dream, as I don’t use most social media partially for this purpose. It’s dirty business. But if you believe in what you’re selling and rub the snake oil on yourself, you should be showing it off.

Setapp may form into something more useful down the line. For now, it saves creators and nomads a dime if they use a million apps and would save more subscribing to a rental service than paying for the tools directly. I enjoyed pondering ways to get it to people who’d find it practical, and really hope some folks found it through this campaign. For Setapp to stay hard as the world-traveling rocks that bear its symbol, it’ll have to innovate and listen to its caring member community.

It was difficult to bridge the physical world with the digital to promote a software product, but it was well worth it. Potential Setapp members could better understand that the service might provide more than the sum of its apps. When appealing to their audiences, good marketers must look deeper than demographics and where those traits intersect with product value. The rock campaign was risky for a reason. It bet on the idea that app users don’t want to be at their desks staring at a searing screen. They’ll use their apps as a means to make it, self-marooning somewhere in paradise.


A thanks to Ben, Jack, Sam, Slater, and Team Setapp.

I’m looking for my next project to pounce on. Email me or fly over to Twitter. For a little ding every now and then on my latest posts and ponderings, subscribe. And if you ever find one of the missing relics, make sure it’s not a horcrux before displaying on your own darling desk.


  1. I could continue on this note, but this study’s focused on the campaign. To me, Setapp’s value is superficial and goes no deeper than a practical monetary equation, leading trial users to abandon ship when they realize they were only really using two or three apps they could buy outright. The bulk of the apps are fluff, and while the Setapp community recognizes this and suggests ways to improve the product, the product managers ignore customers, opting instead to develop small shiny things that contribute nothing truly valuable to the expensive overall experience.

  2. Heh, don’t worry, I’m still vegetarian.

  3. Ibid.

case studies
January 23, 2020

Motivation

Something special happens when you want to do, but don’t want to do the dos before what would be done. There’s a deep sense inside you saying what will and won’t happen according to priority. And what will happen must and what must happen requires a cucumber-keen motivation.

I’ll intersperse my usual self-conscious disclaimer that I am no oracle and am simply writing whatever this will turn out to be as a keepsake for myself and to those kind souls who’ve peeked over shoulder via my newsletter. It’s a two-way communiqué that you’re welcome to riff on.

A healthy individual is fond of a few of their own traits and dare I say I pride myself in my motivation. It hurts in a primal way to see the certain successes of others play out across the net, but that show makes it far too easy to think of your own flounders and forget the good stuff. I’ve had a pleasant amount of luck lately in my endeavors. Counting blessings keeps some humble humility handy so when that luck gets fucked I won’t be all too blindsided. A sacred font of ambition spouts from somewhere starboard of my digestive tract and it’s that trickle of motivation that’s enough to keep my boat afloat through imminent hardships.

I’ll share a spritz of that fountain with you.

Habits needn’t happen habitually

So many matters of motivation involve nursing habits to maturation. You should keep X, Y, and Z twice, thrice, and every other hour per week to keep a mate-attracting shape. You should write now and then and then and then for a puffed-up portfolio and read Rudyard in between. You should roll out of bed, hit the head, and steadfast to work for fortune. Finance family in a fractal pattern of unconditional appreciation. Condition a scalp sporadically, according to container label.

These habits happen not through Pavlovian pinging nor performance-enhancing app pushing. And they needn’t. Real repetitiveness reaches your brain stem through those sly sources you’d rather not acknowledge.

Alas, whatcha want to happen will with will.

I recently moved on from a pigeonhole position at a pretty unique company. As of this writing I am writhing in job apps and wringing the net for leads. It’s tedium at its finest, filing apps that should appeal to those you revere with a zeal that drops after each tap to submit. But I iterate, and turn the pesky process into a game that’s proven quite fun over the endless, blurry days.

What’s important is I haven’t made a habit of applying. No chore, no task, just me and a keyboard and cask, sending out and sipping down with frolic.

Life’s no joke

It’s a grand game, some Shakespearean twist turned on to new tech taking us from stage to system, library to level one.

My brother Kevin. I miss him some thousands of miles away. Both of my brothers, really. But this piece pertains to Kevin. Back at my parents’ house he’d careen into my room flinging bits and bouts of think things at the one AMs and on. I’d be about to brush and hit hay and he’d say something silly or wise with no way to know which way it’d go. At a point in time he laid on the concept of centeredness.

You’re the main character. First-person perspective. Everyone else is an NPC.

Kevin’s a bold boy. He just does shit. To hell with it. He up and goes. Sociable devil. And this helps to explain.

An NPC is a game term for a Non-payable Character. The concept is that in life, you control you and everyone else goes about their business. Is it selfish?

Moons ago. High school. A fling with a Karen who stared at cars. She saw the metal boxes whir by linearly like light. And she wondered about the people inside and where they were going and how far that continuum of cars would spread once they’d gotten there. Similar concept.

I studied comparative religion. Reminiscing about some K’s of present and past has me swirling in religious philosophy. It circles back to motivation. And to circles.

Circles

Motivation is about circles. And dammit if I don’t provide a practical phrase here. Been spewing abstractities. Too much word Pollock. This piece is admittedly structureless, but from a draft and therefore requiring a return to prior thought. Therefore a challenge. Therefore a true think.

When I want to do but don’t want to do the necessary before-dos I brush off the dos of before. The dreary application process as example. Here I am, hashing out emails to companies that look damn nice. And I won’t settle for bull because as much as there’s bull to be done there are people in pretty chairs doing the good work. And I take a why-not-me attitude to it all. It’s not a perfect method and ends in a lot of exacting strike-outs and face-slaps and you-think-you’re-betters. Then it happens and is alright. Because it happened before. Woe was before and so was contentedness. Samsara.

Like that fountain I spoke of earlier, motivation sprays out liquid that lays down into itself at a big circular well surrounding and gets sump-pumped back out. If you’re not suspending reality to understand this metaphor you may ask what charges the pump because fountains need electricity. The answer is bananas with peanut butter.

January 18, 2020

Copy is terrible

Floppy copy, that pile of words wilted over itself ten times until folds become creases and creases become cold and snap into fragments of phonetic debris. Wind picks up and carries that debris up and you pick up the updraft breeze until you sneeze and some first paragraph splashes onto the screen, soaking through to software and deeper still into binary and then that little space between the ones and zeros. Suddenly, it’s all written up.

Whole-ass. Think about last time you whole-assed something. Maybe it was minuscule as an email, but you clicked send. And it meant something. The receiving end got a pocket vibration whiz ding tritone primal ear ping and picked up their rectangle to read your rubbish. Then they acted accordingly. You disturbed the universe. You whole-ass god.

Copy never feels more than half a cheek at most. That’s why there’s a clear natural division, so you can differentiate between what the werewolves are woofing at and what’s less. The fleshy full-moon Hendrix experience. Except instead of chopping mountains, you’re patting plastic dough on the silver palette of your keyboard. And others do the same. But their word debris gets watered down, mixed around and turned into some makeshift paint. They lay strokes, they design.

Done with design

Writers are designers. Idea architects. But designers are designers by name.

It’s a plain shame to see a work of art. Took an age to make and a brow-raise to eat. But you’re impressed by that eye meal. A design of any kind knows itself. It communicates how hard it was to hash out. Effort is immediately apparent.

Words take time to consume. A meat stick with retinas wriggles in excitement when it straw-sucks a petty poem. But real word-steak is thick. It listens to you, and you can’t possibly fit it in your mouth at once. Poems are hard, they stay—everything else is diethyl ether. Either here for good or gone.

Put your ear up close

Words are pictures. Everyone’s got their own mental museum. Picture a pink porous soft-puzzle brain. You might think it’s bubble gum mac and cheese through and through, but you’re wrong. Take an anatomy class. Brains contain little folders. Literal folders. They do. And those have pictures of every single thing you think you know.

Your own ear. Two, right? A mirror’s a mirage. You’ve never seen your ear. Put your ear up close to this. What does it see?

What we can make you do

When no one sees what you’ve said to them, there’s always someone syphoning the sound. In this case, it’s you.

Recipes

It’s not required to follow the recipe.


This is the first musing after the first of Tom’s Newsletter has been sent out. I have many prompts that sound like they’d actually be of some use, but can’t remember what wise-ass things I’d planned to say when I came up with the draft titles. They won’t be written til I’m in the mind to whole-ass them.

Promise more whole-ass wise-ass words.

Tom