THUMP, CRASH, BANG.
I’ve just re-read one of my blogs.
SMASH, CRUNCH, SPLINTER.
It has to be admitted;
TINKLE, SCRAPE, BOOM.
(To myself at least).
BIFF, BOSH, CLONK.
My writing is clumsy.
No question of it. It is many other slightly more redeeming things I am told.
But always, without fail, and in spite of some broadly applied rules (and a reasonable degree of re-reading, tweaking and correcting), the one immutable truth of it is that it is clumsy – though as to which particular type of clumsy I am uncertain.
Sometimes my writing can resemble something akin to a man falling down some cellar stairs with the fingers of one hand clinging to the keyboard as the fingers of the other hand scrabble at thoughts sello-taped along the descending bannister.
On other occasions it smacks of something not dissimilar to a man bound in double-sided tape throwing himself into a small darkened room whose walls are covered with post-it notes variously scribbled with words and phrases like: sub-atomic collider, definition of a Suede Head, John Lydon’s Sex shoes, Pappardelle recipe from Tina, ABBA, Resilience, Arse. The Melancholic Chord, 11, The Oxfordians, Stuey, Saviano, 1973 Austin Allegro, Lying Down and The Cosmic Fizz.
I think perhaps that the clumsiness comes somewhat from the fact that I am more enamoured with ‘conversational’ language and vernaculars and the rhythm of how people speak, rather than how one might best set out and down that humanity with minimum embellishment on a page, screen or other surface to be enjoyed quietly in someone’s head.
The rigour, measure and flow of the exquisitely written word, whether of the bleak muscular and sparse kind, or perhaps the more lyrical and rich variety, is a beautiful thing. But it is often a beauty that escapes me; narrowly but escape it does none-the-less.
I also sense that on occasion I put far too much of myself and my own emotion into my writing – an inappropriate and self-interested incursion in a private moment – not unlike someone speaking of their own grief and loss to the newly widowed as they stand at the graveside. I really do need to get out of my own way in the writing department.
The upside (if I can be allowed to venture one) of being a clumsy writer is that, every now and then, that clumsiness means that I am inevitably going to ‘trip over’ something and inadvertently that ‘something’ might just be a thought, an idea, a profundity; or simply a ditty or a phrase that has some value either in my professional or personal life. Rarely. But the potential to trip over something is most definitely there.
(Grown Up writers would point to the benefit of being less clumsy and more clinical, pithy and precise as a recipe for enlightenment, revelation and ultimately the liberation of pure human emotion into the world – but I have to accept that the clumsy version is the one I am attached to.)
Does that destine me to be some catch phrase Charlie or an Almost and a Not Quite Right Writer? Perhaps.
But I am growing both accustomed to and fond of the fact that I seem to know increasingly less and make increasingly more mistakes every day. I doubt that perfection will grace my mind and the page in front of me any time soon.
For that I am quietly grateful because there is in that truth the potential for me to still hopefully surprise myself and others.
I know myself (to a reasonable degree, at least).
I am at my best when scrabbling for something precious. Flawed, flailing, floundering and failing.
That is why deciphering and defining a North Star or a Purpose is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my professional life. This is why I enjoy seeking them out and shaping them for others. Because they must allow for the imperfect journey. They must allow for slippage and some little slide with a few dead ends and tripwires on the way. They must be respectful of the fact that Peter Perfect is a cartoon character and that ordinary people of even the most extraordinary kind are the ones who will be expected to reach for that North Star or Purpose.
Not that everyone appreciates the humanity of Almost. The Outcome and Output junkies of the Corporate kind struggle with the idea that not every action in one’s day should necessarily turn into a positive data point on a spreadsheet. (The adult world’s version of Gold Stars in School WorkBooks.) Our obsession with the ‘prefect everything’ is killing creativity in business at a time when it needs it most.
Yes, the people running those businesses have to ensure that the business is well run, financially sound and sustainable. But the most important thing for any business to sustain is the heart and soul that began and built it. And that heart and soul is most usually imperfect: driven, passionate, obsessive perhaps. But imperfection will lie at the heart of it somewhere.
This is what I seek in every business and brand I work with: the human voice and imperfect passion at work within it. Thankfully my clumsy writing has allowed me to ‘trip over’ some wonderful human insights and moments in the process.
This is perhaps the most grandiose excuse for shoddy and lazy writing to be penned in early 2017 but I thought I’d get ahead of the game.
Now, where did I put those Post-it notes?