Off Point: Country Music, editing, and me

As some of you may be aware, in addition to being a social media facilitator, search engine optimizer and manager, writer (with a Master’s in journalism), and any number of other things, I am and have been a professional musician for the better part of my life, sometimes full-time, sometimes part. But, always. I also write songs: nothing you’ve probably ever heard, but still . . .

So, this weekend I attended a songwriters’ workshop and evaluation  at the Nugget, so that I might get some feedback from the professional evaluators who were judging.

As luck would have it, KTNV Channel 2 News was on the scene, taping a story for their evening news. They taped a snippet of my entry, and interviewed me afterward.

The question was, “Why are you here today?” and I think I answered it pretty well.

  1. Some people are so familiar with their own works, that they are unable to see them. It’s not that they’re in denial, it’s just that they see what they expect to see. I actually wrote a blog post about this.
  2. Editing yourself can be self-defeating and next to impossible. When I blue-pencil my prose or fiction (or lyrics, for that matter), I generally obsess about it, changing words here and there (wielding my thesaurus like a madman with a chainsaw) to the extent that I manage to leech all of the spontaneity and “juice out if it.

That’s why objective listeners, readers, observers can be invaluable.

What do you think? Are objective evaluations important?

The Creative Companion: A dispatch from Conundrum Canyon

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Creative enough for you? It’s not what you think.

Just to give you an idea of how out of touch and off-the-grid I was between May 4th and the 25th—the time I spent stuck, not it Lodi, but in in the place I’m calling Conundrum Canyon—I actually picked up and read a terrific little book on advertising called The Creative Companion by adman David Fowler.

A book on advertising. . . . me? Who’d’a thunk it?

In my defense, it was only 33 pages long and I figured I could knock it off in, like, 45 minutes or so.

You’ve probably already guessed what’s coming next. I admit it, okay: The Creative Companion is a terrific little book, full of cute and clever insights (but not the precious, cloying kind), and presented with wit and—thank goodness—an economy of prose. Plus, it’s a book that’s perfect for those of us who wonder, on occasion, if we are “talentless schmucks” (as Chris Wall so delicately anoints it in the Forword).

Following are the first three of Fowler’s tips on how to goose one’s creativity (I might add a few more as time goes on and as time permits).

Just saying, though; these are tips on advertising, so some of the rhetoric might be ad-oriented. Oh, and the chapter titles are verbatim.

  1. Get up and go: Browse bookstores, grab a video camera and stalk the streets. Bookstores, as Fowler explains, contain “the sum total of human experience,” while total strangers will offer their opinions on your product—as long as you describe your queries as “marketing research.” He suggests staying away from doing your research on the Web: “You won’t find any real people there to interact with. And you’re still just sitting there in your office.”
  2. Is your baby a monkey? Somebody has rejected an idea you’ve fallen in love with. They’ve called it a “monkey.” Fowler suggests that you listen to the input, and then resolve the issue on those terms. Bring it back, with that new way of looking at it. Or not. It may have been a monkey all along.

    Scribe Site | Roger Scime | words images music
    Is this my baby?
  3. Write a theme, not a line. We all know (or should know) know what a tag line is: it’s shorthand for the underlying theme that drives a product. Fowler tells us that if you can define the parameters of its underlying theme, the line (which he would prefer calling a “theme line” as opposed to a slogan or tag line—it sounds more dignified, he says) will follow from that.

Now, all of this makes more than a bit of sense, even to a right-brain kind of guy like me, and I’m going to go out on a limb and recommend it to anybody who could use a jolt of creativity now and again.

The Creative Companion, in all of its 33-page glory, can be read online at TheCreativeCompanion.com

Related:

How to Sing the Blues: A dispatch from Conundrum Canyon

Athough my memories of the three or four weeks I spent in Conundrum Canyon are fuzzy at best, there is one experience that has left its indelible mark upon my musical soul: a lesson in how to play the blues from a true master of the form (at least that’s what he told me he was).   But, Roger, you’re probably saying to yourself, you’ve been a musician most of your life. How could it be that you need instruction in playing the blues?

I wasn’t that guy

Allow me to explain the seeming inconsistency, young Padawans:

It is true that I am a long-time practitioner of the musical arts; it is also true that, having been exposed to the myriad forms of musical expression, I found the blues—with its immutable I-IV-V progression of chords—to be among the most limiting and (dare I say?) boring.

However, Conundrum Valley, off-the-grid as it is, offered little in the way of amusements or even outlets for one’s artistic muse to run free.

So when—during an interminable week of watching the (admittedly) majestic redwoods grow their leafy limbs ever higher into the azure sky that domed  the Valley—an old man, his skin the color and texture of teriyaki beef jerky (the peppered variety), offered to tutor me in the basic nuances of what he called the troubles (taking a hint from the Irish Rebellion, no doubt), I leaped at the opportunity to acquire such insight at the talented and aged fingertips of the legend known to the world as “Flatulent Willie” Warbuton.

Nor am I “Flatulent” Willie Warburton

I had planned to recount Flatulent Willie’s  blueseloquent insights  verbatim, but was informed by his attorney that they were copyrighted and his intellectual property and were scheduled to be published in book form in the Fall and online and if I repeated, Tweeted, blogged, or Facebooked even a single solitary syllable of his syntactic wisdom he—on behalf of his client—would “sue my plagiarizing ass off.”

So, I went online myself and found the following:

“How To Sing The Blues”

Getting started with the blues

  • Most blues songs begin, “I woke up this morning.”
  • “I got a good woman” is a bad way to begin a blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line, such as “I got a good woman—with the meanest dog in town.”
  • Blues are simple. After you have the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that sort of rhymes.

May 4 – May 25, 2011: A dispatch from Conundrum Canyon

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May 26, 2011: Hey, it could've been worse

Have you ever found yourself in the kind a conundrum where you didn’t know which way to turn, much less what in the blazes to do about it?

Yeah, me too.

In fact, for the last—what?—three, four weeks, I’ve been stranded in that particular locale: It wasn’t called Conundrum Canyon, but that’s what I called it.

Now I know that this is making about as much sense so far as the GOP’s plan for balancing the budget without raising taxes, or as the Supreme Court’s idea of protecting the Constitution by eviscerating it.

(Now, that’s a cool word, isn’t it: “eviscerate?” Dictionary.com defines eviscerate in two ways:

  1. to remove the entrails from; disembowel;
  2. to deprive of vital or essential parts.

Personally, I think the second definition is the more accurate one, although I can also imagine the teenage ghost of John Adams calling out a warning: “Hey, Ma . . . call James Madison: There’s evisceratin’ goin’ on!)

Digression” is a pretty cool word, too.

I’d tell you, but then I’d have to . . . never mind

Now, confidentiality prevents me from going into too many specifics, but in all fairness (and to satisfy the curiosity of the . . . er, curious, among you), I’ll give you as much of the story as I can and present it as a hypothetical.

Are you with me so far?

Anyway, on May 4th I (hypothetically) received a call from an old and dear friend of mine who lives out of state. My friend was having, well, let’s just say a crisis of fact, form, and stability. He asked me if I would help.

Rescuer that I am—having grown up on the sappy flicks of the 60s and 70s, where somebody was always saving somebody less advantaged—I leaped upon my gallant steed and rode northward from Reno, to the aforementioned (hypothetical) Conundrum Canyon.

scribe site | roger scime | images words sounds
the general vicinity of my (hypothetical) location

And once there, I discovered the validity of the cynicism: No good deed goes unpunished.

Another lame excuse

For three, four weeks I lived off the grid, ministering to my friend’s tattered psyche and making only occasional and sporadic forays back to Reno to fulfill commitments I couldn’t otherwise avoid.

And, as Forrest Gump so famously declares: That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

 

An apology . . .

To the 2-3 people who follow this blog: I apologize for not posting anything for, well, a while. A combination of financial, personal, medical, geographical, cybernetical (is that a word?) — and probably astrological — problems have interfered.

It’s easy to Tweet on an iPhone; a blog post: not so much.

But, rest assured, cyber-buddies, I will be back at the ol’ keyboard long before this time next week, with enough content to make up for my lapses in spades.

So. please don’t give up on me. I’ll still be holding my open mic at Pizza Baron tomorrow night at 7:00 PM, but will be heading back out of town again immediately afterward. If I can get online before then, I’ll have 5-6 new posts before next Wednesday. If not, then that following Friday.

Too much information? When I return—I’ll type, and you’ll decide!

 

Do your social profiles contain any of these clichés? Part 4: passion & passionate

Scribe Site | Roger Scime | Cliché Passion Passionate
Really? Passionate?

In my last three posts, I’ve discussed the overuse of three words and phrases in social media profiles:

1.    remarkable
2.    content, content creation, and content creator
3.    compelling

Today, I’ll be discussing two additional phrases, phrases that include the words “passion” and “passionate.” They are:

1.    passionate about social media
2.    passion for social media

In myriad instances, social citizens too often describe themselves as being either passionate about social media, or as having a passion for social media. Which is true, do you suppose? Doesn’t seem just a bit precious? A bit smarmy?

Scribe Site | Roger Scime | "passion for" "passionate about" "social media"
How much is too much?

Just look at those numbers!

I mean, when I was younger, I had a passion for playing guitar. I was passionate about Hayley Mills, and later Jodie Foster.

It’s like Gordon Ramsay, who regularly derides his simpering acolytes for their not having a “passion for food.”

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines passion as “intense emotional excitement.” How many of you reading this really have a “passion”for Tweeting? Or for updating your LinkedIn profiles? Or for curating content (There’s another one).

How many of these social citizens will still be blogging daily and Tweeting hourly and reporting their Facebook status by-the-minute five years from now? Or will they, perhaps, have moved on to the next new thing?

Ah . . . if I were a betting man.

How about these, instead?

1.    I really like social media, or
2.    I’m good at social media, and enjoy applying it

Let’s save “passion” and “passionate” for things we’re really passionate about, okay?

Thus endeth the lesson.

RELATED:

⁃    Do your social profiles contain any of these clichés? Part 3:  Compelling
⁃    Do your social profiles contain any of these clichés? Part 2: Content
⁃    Do your social profiles contain any of these clichés? Part 1: Remarkable

Do your social profiles include any of these clichés? Part 3: “Compelling Content”

scribe site | roger scime | annoying social media profile cliché #3
Compelling? I don't think so.

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I discussed some blatantly and unapologetically overused social media profile clichés, such as the over- and inappropriate uses of “remarkable” and “content.”

This post deals with the adjective “compelling,” especially in the context of content and social media.

First the statistics, to which I append my usual caveat: The following statistics were compiled using my own dubious methodology and an unscientific sample; however, I believe they consist of replicable data (just use Google and LinkedIn, as I did). The columns represent Google | LinkedIn | Twitter SERPs.

scribe site | roger scime | annoying social media cliché #3: compelling
I compell you ...

Now, there are perfectly adequate substitutes for compelling, some of which used in the sentence, “I write compelling copy.” Instead, how about

  • I write authoritative copy.
  • I write convincing copy.
  • I write forceful copy.
  • I write persuasive copy.

Granted, these examples may not be my best, but adjectives are always suspect, aren’t they?

Part 4 of this series on  social media profile clichés will deal with what I consider the most annoying (and probably most self-delusional) cliché of them all. You won’t want to miss it.

I should mention that this series is not meant to be all-inclusive: Just a few of my own observations as a post-adolescent social media newbie. So again I ask your infinitely more knowledgeable advice: are there any social media conventions or clichés that bother you? Share your inner-peeves in the comments section, below.

Related:

 

Do your social profiles include any of these clichés? Part 2: “Content Creator” “Content Creation”

scribe site | roger scime | annoying social profile cliché #2: content
Are you content with content?

In my previous post, I discussed the use (including overuse and misuse) of the word remarkable in social media profiles, and mentioned that I would get to its favorite sibling, content, in a subsequent post. Well, here it is, beginning with a question:

When did a story or a work of art or a musical composition or a photograph suddenly become content? It wasn’t me, that I can tell you.  I would have stuck with a story or a work of art or a musical composition or a photograph. And, because so many people in social media use that term in their various profiles, it’s become a social media profile cliché.

The word content has also usurped several perfectly serviceable names for the makers, themselves:

  • writers
  • artists
  • musicians
  • photographers

These craftspeople have been transformed, in the language of social media, into: content creators.

I’ve encountered content and content creator in so many LinkedIn, Twitter, blog “About Me” pages, and résumés, that I herewith dub it—as well as its various iterations—an official social media profile cliché.

Here are some more statistics from another of my dubious, methodologically-challenged surveys (The columns represent Google | LinkedIn | Twitter SERPs):

scribe site | roger scime | annoying social profile cliché #2: content / content creation
too much content with too little

With all this content being created, I wonder if anybody has time to write a story, draw or paint a picture, sing or play a song, or take a picture?

I’ll say the same thing I said in my previous post on this subject: It is unlikely that any potential employer will search for the keyword content or the phrase content creator or creation when seeking to hire an artist, musician, photographer, etc.

A caveat, however: Unlike the previous post’s example, of a social media aware employer’s unlikely search for remarkable, it’s entirely possible that he or she might actually search a variation of content.

So, here’s my suggestion. If you feel you must, try something along the lines of:

  • online or offline content creator [then] expert in music, photography, art, etc.

Or, whatever else floats your boat.

Thus endeth the lesson.

In Part 3 of this series, I’ll deal with compelling, and why it’s not.

Are there any social media conventions or clichés that bother you? Please share your inner-peeves in the comments section, below:

Related:

Do your social profiles include any of these clichés? Part 1: “Remarkable”

Annoying Social Media Cliche #1" Remarkable"
Remarkable? I think not!

I’d never heard the expression “remarkable” used in a particular way until I attended my first social media event in 2009 (I was a late adopter). The speaker was pontificating about blogging and  said something along the lines of, “What you offer in your blog has to be REMARKable. In other words,t must be that about which people REMARK.”

Wow, I thought, cool play on words.

And, earlier this year when I began using social media on a regular, systematic basis, I’m positive my professional LinkedIn, Twitter, blog, and Facebook profiles all included the word “remarkable” somewhere within the text, usually in conjunction with the word “content,” which I’ll examine in more detail in a subsequent post.

It’s now months later and I’ve revised my own profiles several times. However,  I’ve noticed that a depressingly large number of others in the wonderful, wacky, worrisome world of social media are using the r-word in their own profiles, to a really annoying degree.

Remarkable is less so than it ever was: It’s become a social media profile cliché.

You see, I love language and its words to a degree that—with alarming regularity—drives my readers away from my prose, because in my search for the absolutely perfect word in something I’ve written, I’ve managed to concomitantly drain all the juice and liveliness from it.

So, seeing that silly little pun overused so offends me linguistically as well. I thought of the other words and phrases that have popped up and infest the world of social media profiles, did a very small amount of research, and have arrived at what consider the four most egregious and aggravating examples of social media clichés, which I will be exposing in this and my next three posts.

I’m going to begin with the least egregious of them: “remarkable.” Continue reading Do your social profiles include any of these clichés? Part 1: “Remarkable”