A couple of years ago, I had a peach of a ’68 Mustang. Though the creature drank gasoline like a Death Valley marathoner drinks water, it was a clean machine, and fun to drive. But like any car that’s 40+ years old, it had a loose tooth or two. So I scoured the InterWebz for Mustang parts suppliers, and bought a couple of items from Steeda, the company whose recent ad is pictured above.
Sidestepping the phallic push of this incomparable cold-air intake, I was struck by the flatly declarative copy of the ad. Not because it’s sweepingly imaginative, but because there’s such a narrow audience for whom it’s intended. Cold-air intakes, that’s what we got here—all other parties move on. Now the reason this struck me in particular is because I’ve been mulling whether my “one-size-writes-all” copywriting biz is too many things: flowers, trees, sky above, dirt below and cold-air intakes in between.
You see, I write web copy, press releases, marketing collateral, ads, case studies, direct mail, and a bunch of tech stuff too. And I edit all of the aforementioned, and more. In fact, just yesterday I finished editing a small book on how to play any chord on the banjo. Though twangy, it was quite technical.
Towards or Away from the Mountain?
I’ve always enjoyed the variety of writing/editing I do, but sometimes there’s a haphazard, slapdash aspect to the servings in my restaurant: can you trust a place to make great Chinese if they are advertising pizza too? And though I do OK with the dough, it’s not like I can buy a load of Facebook stock (though if they keep going in the direction they have, I can at least buy a bucketful). Amusingly, in the way of how when you begin to mull something, you’ll see signposts and UFO sightings about that subject everywhere, today I watched this commencement speech of Neil Gaiman’s on Tim Ferriss’s blog, where Gaiman speaks (at around 4:20) about whether his ongoing work was taking him “toward or away from the mountain”—the mountain being his deepest goals. If away, he suggests to leave that work behind, if you can.
But “follow your bliss” doesn’t precisely translate in this instance: I love the play of language even in a technical book on the banjo, but I don’t feel passionate about that play. But then again, I’m further muddled about my mountain, because I waffle whether it’s imperative to feel soaring passion about your work when it gives you pleasure at a basic level, and provides a sense of accomplishment, however ephemeral. Still mulling on passion’s place, and where that place might be on my own map.
We all move through our days, trying to figure out what to do if we have a surgeon’s hands and a troubadour’s heart. (I have neither, but I do have impressively large feet.) In the meantime, I’ll contact Steeda and see if they have made such a killing on cold-air intake sales that they can become my patron, and I can simply work on my novel, which has suffered sore neglect lately.
Bonus Book Giveaway
There’s only a few days days left on my giveaway at the Guide to Literary Agents blog of Flowering, my new book of short stories. My essay there is on the weird nature of short story collections within the publishing world. You don’t even need to read my transcendently engrossing point-of-view on that subject to comment, and be in the running to win the book. Do it.