“Hi. My name is Linda and I’m a fence sitter.”
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? And yet, when I look at my portfolio website, I feel like that should be my first line. Look here for writing samples with a marketing slant. Look there for objective news articles. Oh, and here are some blog pieces, thrown into the mix, so you can get an idea of my personal perspective on life.
If I didn’t know better, I would say I am a perpetual adolescent, still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Is it a marketing copywriter and PR flack? A reporter? Or perhaps a preacher?
The good news is that I am not, in fact, having an identity crisis. I know exactly what I want to be. It’s exactly what I am, and what I’ve been for many years: a writer.
One of my blogger friends has a favorite phrase that says, “I write because I must.”
Being a writer is more than what I do. It’s who I am. I write because I must.
When I was in fourth grade, hooked on Nancy Drew books, I wanted to be a mystery writer. Several failed attempts at short stories later, I decided perhaps I should be a poet or songwriter. I wasn’t writing for anyone else. I was writing for me. It really wasn’t until I got to college that I thought about how to make a living as a writer. And even then, as an advertising/PR major within the journalism department, I still wrote everything from ads to press releases to news stories.
Nevertheless, being a writer is a little like being a doctor: people may start out with a general practitioner, but ultimately they want a specialist.
I was a specialist for years. I entered the world of information technology in 1995 and didn’t look back for 20 years. I earned my stripes as a “creative techie” writer, translating technical jargon into business benefits. I knew Internet marketing and web design like the back of my hand, built relationships with the IT press and analyst community, and could write technical data sheets in nothing flat. White papers soon followed.
Two decades of doing the same thing can get old, though.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love technology and I still write about it. That’s the reason it still dominates my portfolio. But something inside me yearned for more. Something more … creative.
Starting Spring Sight blog in 2014 gave me more than just a way to help others. Moving beyond the marketing space connected me to a whole other world of writers. These writers were different. They weren’t product pushers or spin doctors. They were literature-inspired authors, who painted vivid imagery with their words. They were artists. I wanted to be like them, to think like them, to write like them.
With “brand consistency” etched firmly in the back of my mind, I couldn’t reconcile the two distinct sides of me. I struggled to figure out how to position myself. Will anyone take me seriously in either vein if I show them both? But as I pondered this dilemma and researched the market, I discovered a new truth.
In the world of writing today, the fences on which I have been sitting — the lines between creative writing and journalism and marketing — are all beginning to fall. A creative “hook” is no longer just for ads. Narrative is no longer bound to fiction. Short-to-the-point has its place too.
I learned news reporting back in the day when inverted pyramid style was the only way to go and the emphasis was “just the facts, ma’am.” In two weeks, I will go to a Society of Professional Journalists conference that has a session teaching the art of storytelling, which literally instructs journalists to “dump the inverted pyramid.” Yes, the facts are still important, but so is creativity.
In today’s writing world, my Gemini personality fits in just perfectly. To some, I may be perceived as a “fence sitter,” unable to choose between the various genres my pen (or computer keyboard) gravitates to. But to others, a new generation perhaps, I need only be known by one word: writer.