Logo Hustle and grind.jpg

In absence of full time employment, I’ve been working my tail off. If this sounds contradictory it is not. As any freelance writer will tell you, the hustle is as crucial as the creation. Unlike fat and maybe-happy FTE’s the freelancer must work to get work before he can work.

Ah, the hustle. It’s like the fisherman who has to both catch fish and sell them. Two jobs. Both with distinct roles and responsibilities. He rises early to fish. Stays up late to sell.

Same for me. Work the phones in the AM. Write into the wee hours. Get up and do it again. Call it hustle and flow. I’m not complaining. Just saying.

Though I am also primed for full time work, I do find rogue satisfaction in being a grinder. The hustle keeps one alert. My sonar is on. Even the glimpse of silver beneath the waves and I turn to it. Lowering my bait. Jigging for a nibble.

The writing part I know well. Am good at it. Adore it. But after composing a manifesto for this client and writing content for that website, I’m just too fatigued to tend to my blog.

I trust you understand. And if you’re so inclined, hit me up. I will most certainly deliver. Spoken like a true hustler, right?

My portfolio: https://steffanwork.wordpress.com/

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My home office: a cheap cigar, a Diet Coke and thou!

Oh, dear blog what shall I write? It’s been more days than I like to spend away from you. But work, family and the great outdoors call me away. That and the whole wide rest of the Internet. The last one is the big devourer of time. What with my shows, that video and this movie.

Often when I’m riding my bike or waiting to fall asleep I think of a killer topic. But then I forget it. I guess it wasn’t so killer after all. More likely I realize the topic is just not right for this forum. New things we are working on at the agency are not appropriate for public consumption. Nor are many of the intrigues we are experiencing. I’ve learned over time, often the hard way that discussing certain items on a blog violates the trust others have put in me. However compelling a challenge at work or home may be, this cannot be the place for it.

My ego is a strong influence. The devil may care, it says. Write, chicken shit, write! It is my lone frenemy.

Here’s the hard part. For provocative and challenging issues I often need to write about them in order to know what I really think, feel and believe. My first thought –Run! Fight! Drink!- is typically not the right one. This blog has been a perfect sounding board for my thoughts to marinate into sound ideas. Until it isn’t. In my last engagement, the agency PR guy came to loathe this blog for my self-disclosure and truth telling. Ironically, he now works at Facebook.

Like you, I am also caught up in the sad, maddening melee of modern culture and politics. What is going on with our police? Were they always this freewheeling with their pistols and we didn’t know about it? And then there is Donald Trump. So much has been said about so much he has said. Somehow he leads the polls to be the GOP candidate for President of these United States. What’s even more unbelievable is that he has made an enemy of Fox News. He would be their torch bearer! In the end, the Democrats need only put out mashed potatoes and win. Hillary you are one lucky woman.

But this blog isn’t about those things. Or so I thought when I sat down to write.

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Jabbing at the keyboard like a monkey…

I’ve written three novels, dozens of short stories, probably thousands of ads, as well as maintained this and other blogs, and I composed all of that content with basically one finger: the index on my right hand.

Weird right? Most professional writers know how to type. Well, one finger has been my normal since I started using machines to compose text.

In high school and then college, I wrote on a typewriter given to me by my father. Back then I drank and smoked (what serious writer didn’t?) and I used my left hand for that and my right to work. Needless to say, I did a lot of both. It all became second nature, especially the booze.

As time went by I stopped drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes but I never learned to properly type. That’s not to say I didn’t evolve; I did. Like every writer, I memorized the keyboard. Subsequently, my finger tapping became faster and faster. I never timed it but when I’m in the zone I can probably hammer out forty or fifty words a minute, maybe more.

I use my cell phone keyboard the same way.

This will never change. I’ve gotten too competent in my dysfunctional approach to bother learning another method.

Oddly, I don’t know a single person who types like I do. All of you seem to engage your keyboards properly. Even you non-professional writers. Am I wrong about this? If so, let me know. I’m curious: Am I the only one-fingered typist who is not a child or a monkey?

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And the men who hold high places…

A classmate from Lane Technical High School in Chicago posted this charming group photograph (circa 1979) in honor of Throwback Thursday on Facebook. It is a photo of the school’s newspaper staff, of which I was the arts and entertainment columnist. That’s me far right, in the second row, donning a full head of hair and a Rush tee shirt (both long gone). Right next to me is the cutest girl in this photo, Suzanne. Alas, I can only assume she was told to sit there. Recall I am wearing a Rush tee shirt, which to this day repels women like few things can.

Of course, I do not recall taking this photo, nor most everyone in it. My long term memory is shot from the rigorous “research” I did whilst attending the numerous rock concerts I weekly reviewed. Cannabis Sativa no doubt added positivity to all my band reviews but deducted brain cells as well.

I do remember how proud I was getting this gig, and especially seeing my byline in the Warrior every Friday. (Or was it Monday?) Regardless, I still have all my clippings in deep storage. Very deep storage. The Internet for all intents and purposes was 10+ years away. Getting one’s name in print was for me a truly awesome experience, or, as we used to say back in the day, e-excellent.

During my two-year tenure as feature columnist I reviewed such bands as Rush, Aerosmith, Golden Earring, AC/DC and Judas Priest pretty much alienating me from 98% of the school’s massive population (6200 students!) and most certainly all of its women. Ah, well. The things we do for our careers. I also reviewed new album releases (from my growing collection) as well as the occasional movie. I reviewed Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, which I’m proud to say I adored, even at the fresh young age of 15.

Writing for my school’s paper and subsequently three different college papers remains one of the most satisfying and beneficial things I ever did during scholarship. Now I’ve got this blog, which if my wife and three daughters are any indication continues to repel women.

Author’s note: In the pic’s caption my name is spelled “Steffon,” which is e-excellent!

BRANDON MYCHAL SMITH, ALLISYN ASHLEY ARM, STERLING KNIGHT, TIFFANY THORNTON, DOUG BROCHU
That’s one word for it…

As a writer (and copywriter especially), I pay closer attention to words than most “regular” people. After years of alliteration, turning phrases and forcing puns I can’t help it. For me certain words are riper with meaning than others. Some words have more than one meaning, which I also find interesting, in particular when the people who use them altered their definitions. Like when real estate marketers use code words to mask unattractive features in their listings, the classic being the word “cozy,” subbing for tiny or worse.

“Cozy” is a very specific example. What about words that have changed in a broader context? For example, the evolution of the word “gay.” In the olden days it simply meant carefree and happy. The subtext of showiness and flamboyance evolved, rightly or wrongly, into the primary descriptor for homosexuals. But the word still wasn’t done changing. It has acquired darker hues. Not long ago “gay” started being used in a derogatory way to suggest something lame, overtly fey or just plain wrong.

Less controversially, the word “random” has evolved. Random once just meant something “out of order or sequence.” Somewhere along the way this largely mathematical term became poetic slang for silly, weird or (like the word gay) just plain wrong. Saying something off topic, seemingly out of the blue, is random. An odd observation or a joke that misfires is random. In the cra-cra life of a teenager just about everything is random. In 2011, Disney even named one of their teen TV sketch comedies, “So Random!”

But “random” isn’t just for young people. I like using it as well. For me it’s a way to make fun of something without being (totally) offensive. Yes, random can be the runt of the litter. But it can also mean something unexpected or quirky. Usually, it’s all of the above.

On a base level the slang meaning of “gay” and “random” cross paths. (Those shoes are so random. Those shoes are so gay.) Obviously, the former is a lot less mean spirited than the latter. One is offensive to more than just shoes.

Reexamining this essay I can’t remember why I began writing it in the first place. Did I have a larger point to make? As is it just seems so… random.