some black space, in lieu of the photos I haven't been taking
I just took some time off blogging. Almost a whole week. Haven't been taking photos either. Just been going to work, getting home, bathing the baby, eating, reading and sleeping. It was good - kind of what life was like before blogging; before the self-induced pressure of trying to find something interesting to write about every day.
So, after a week or so of not blogging, what have I learned?
* You can go to bed early. Sometimes by 9pm. This means you can read and learn stuff before nodding off. * You can play with 10 month old babies and hear them say their first proper words. 'Daddy', 'courgette' and 'Springsteen' - I heard them all clearly. * I listened to music. I am particularly enjoying the new Gruff album and Danielson (here and here), who is somehow connected to Sufjan Stevens. * You can do paperwork. I now have a last will and testament, bought a new house and agreed the sale of the one I'm sitting in right now. * You can learn about vegetables. Today I read a magazine that told me how to grow my own rocket, carrots, radishes and potatoes.
This time we'll look at a recent addition to the bookshelf, but one that will surely see some heavy use in the coming years.
It's the Penguin Book of Facts. I don't know how long they've been producing this particular book, but this is the most recent (2006) edition. And it is a thing of beauty. It's got so much stuff in it. Pretty much everything you might need to know.
And those all important religious symbols.
I guess I use this book in two ways when I'm writing. The first is as a straight reference book. But then I also have Google, Wikipedia and the rest to do all of that.
The second way is more interesting. When I get stuck for an idea, or stumped or bored or whatever, this is the book that I pick up. I'll always find something that I didn't know before, and read it and learn, and then maybe flick to something else, and learn a bit more. Pretty soon my brain has chugged back into life and is working properly again. I may have even found an odd fact that could feature in the first sentence of a piece of long copy, which then leads on to something else...
Maybe I love all of these hard facts because the whole area of creativity is about as unscientific as it gets. When
you get down to it, nobody really knows why certain ads or bits of copy
work. Sure, you can analyse them and post rationalise, but a lot of that is conjecture and quackery.
So it follows that some days you struggle a little to keep going in a job where there are fewer certainties than lots of other jobs. The people I sit next to perform tasks where there is a beginning and an end; a right answer and a wrong answer. Meanwhile, there I am, struggling to come up with an idea that's as good as the last one, mildly paranoid that my best days might be behind me, while the people who briefed me think "He's done this thousands of times before - should only take him ten minutes."
So that's why I cling to my Book of Facts, and the ritual of consulting it at moribund moments. It's the only science I've got.
An interesting article here by a journalist called Kevin Braddock, saying that the sort of stuff that I work on/for (friendly company, conversational packaging, innocent stuff) needs a good kicking, and the only thing that can save us from it is a punk revolution by the kids.
It's a good article. Originally published in Marmalade magazine, which is a good magazine.
I'm quite interested to hear what any of you think. Is our copy annoying? Should we change, now that people have copied us? Should I resign and start a band called The Bastards?
Paul receives the tankard from Hoshinosan - a challenge is born
Paul is the owner of the tankard and thinks it's time for a review of our aims and methods. I agree.
For those who don't remember, the tankard was given to Paul as a present. I said that I quite fancied a go on it, and reckoned that we could keep sending it on to people who were interested in spending some time with this strangely alluring boozing cup. And thus was born the Great Tankard Challenge.
So we found some people who volunteered to receive the tankard, in this order:
And does anyone else fancy a go? You might want to show the tankard the sights and sounds of your hometown. If you do, form an orderly queue and post a comment. The committee will assess each application on its merits.