Stream of Consciousness

Over the course of my freelance writing career, which now spans a languid twelve months of doing far less work than I pretend, I’ve experienced several things for the first time in my forty-one years. Among many, many other things, I’ve written the annual letter to the shareholders for a popular purveyor of overpriced caffeine-laced fluids. I’ve crafted an eBook instructional about carving a medieval English longbow. I’ve created relationship articles for Muslims in the Philippines. I’ve invented tribal parables for native American children. But the most important thing I've learned, is that people who tell you they are smart, are generally pretty fucking stupid.

I come from an industry where the murderous working temperature is well over 100° Fahrenheit. Cuts, bruises and heat exhaustion are dismissed as less than bothersome. A careless slip can kill or main. You work when you’re sick, and you work when you don’t want to, which is all the time unless you have a particularly disagreeable girlfriend or wife at home to inspire your absence. The little fun to be had is in the robust banter with your workmates and quaffing a few icy brews when that furious firmament furnace finally fucks off behind the horizon.

Because I was a construction worker, I was used to being treated as if I was a dullard. I kind of liked this, because it immediately put me at an advantage. What I didn’t expect, though, when I stumbled drunken-like into the oxymoronic, soft-focus, twinkling realm of “knowledge working”, is that a massive percentage of the denizens thereof, who often look down on people who can actually do stuff, are actually far more dim.

I’ve had this conversation during an article review with a well-known CEO:

“…And could you change the word “myriad” for something more appropriate to the demographic?”

“Erm, isn’t the demographic your middle management? I imagine they‘re fairly well-educated, and ‘Myriad’ is a fairly common word.”

“Well, I had to look it up.”

“Oh.”

One of my first assignments was writing a blog for a businessman from Romania. To market his website, he organized some guest-writing spots on the most popular blogs to direct traffic his way. One of these blogs--and I shit you not--was about blogging (I’m not unaware of the triple irony my writing this blog about writing a blog on a blog about blogging inspires). To get a feel for the tone of the host's ideology before I started work, I read through his past efforts. His entire modus operandi was to write any old repetitive crap that shat from his fingertips, and keep his sentences and paragraphs short. He’d also deploy a regiment of sub-headers and further disperse the text with bullet lists in order to dutifully follow the “plenty of white paper” maxim.

I flatly refused.

My guest spot turned into a rant about the uselessness of such window-dressing, and how well-crafted, thoughtful, entertainingly-written content would always attract more attention. No one drags you into their cubicle to read a fucking bullet list, but crack someone up and the whole office hears.

I spent far longer on this guest blog than my fee demanded, but I had a point to make. I was on a mission. Every sentence dripped with poignancy. Imagery growled throughout. It was a damn good read, if I may say so myself. The response it got exceeded my client’s wildest expectation. However, probably 30% of the responders disagreed with me, citing a 50-50 ratio of content quality to sparse formatting an appropriate balance.

Remember what I said about stupid? Apparently 30% of people are, at least, more dense than I. (So, I hear you cry, if someone agrees with you they're smart, and if they disagree with you they're dumb? Well; yes. In a nutshell.)

One of the side effects of being around so much blogging is you get to read a lot of free-form thoughts oozing from the minds of people that probably shouldn’t be thinking so much. And, it seems to me, a weird kind of subculture has evolved from the blogordial soup; the subculture of the bloke who writes a blog about feelings, relationships, emotions, and other such fucking nonsense. I call this curious phenomenon “Blokes Trying to Get Laid Online”.

I read one the other day written by a fella who I don’t actually know, but we have a surprising number of friends in common. After reading his blog, though, I really, really want to smack the cunt. I’ve never read such a protracted parade of self-serving drivel thinly disguised as heartfelt rumination and reflection. It poured from every pore of his writing, though those less sensitive to the wiles of the written word might not pick up on the papery nature of his procrastination (y’know, people like his target audience: women).

That sexist dig reminds me of one post of his that stands strongly in my mind. His topic was chivalry, and how he believes a man should pay for everything, open doors, engage in fisticuffs if some uncouth bounder swears within earshot; shit like that. Now, I tend to treat women as equals, whether they like it or not. Actually, especially if they don’t like it, because this, for some reason, amuses me on a fundamental level. It tickles my very core. I consider part of living like a decent, productive human being is to deflate the inflated and undercut the aloof; to drag everyone down to my level, as it were. And people that hold to such undefendable notions should be abused, both physically and mentally.

Man, I meandered. Thus is the nature of streams of consciousness, eh?

Smooch,

Stef

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