Creative Righting, or How an Irreverent Marketing Campaign May Inspire Me to Reorient the Ship

kkaprod2_largeWHIT HILER WAS not the presenter I expected to be the one to deliver my annual March jolt of “Get off your ass and create.” That shock of inspiration inevitably happens at CUPRAP’s spring conference, typically courtesy a gifted writer or determined peer. Hiler, though, is not only an agency guy but also a partner in a side project called Kentucky for Kentucky, whose goals include rebranding the Bluegrass State with the tagline “Kentucky Kicks Ass.”

Yeah.

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Hershey Bliss, or How a Work Conference Is About So Much More Than Work

IN A FEW weeks I’ll head to Hershey, Pennsylvania, for the annual meeting of a professional organization on whose board I serve. As I’ve written about previously (and previously), this meeting never fails to inspire me. The attendees are talented, creative people not only applying their skills in the field in which I work, but also chipping away at their own personal callings. Talking with writers, artists, photographers and designers between sessions and during the social events has inevitably refilled my creative cup and compelled a vow to renew my own artistic efforts. I don’t imagine this year will be any different.

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A Smack in the Face About the Need to Be Creative

THE THREE gifted storytellers spoke with passion, eloquence, good humor, and conviction about how they do what they do, and why it matters, and when they were done–no, even before they were done–I was reminded of why it’s so damned important for me to find the time to tell my own stories.

I’m in Hershey for the annual conference of a professional organization I’m fortunate to be part of, and the same thing happened at last year’s gathering. I had encountered a couple of folks who work in my field and chatted with them about the struggle of creative work outside the office. The conversation had turned to blogging, and one of my new friends confessed a desire to return to it:

Like me, she wants to write beyond her job; like me, she’s had it fall by the wayside of late. And so we exchanged contact info and pledged together to get back on the horse.

I can’t say it happened for me. Too many other things have gotten in the way–the job, the commute, the house, the family–but the truth is that one needs to make the time for these things if they are that important.

And they are, at least to me.

Yesterday, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, a college communications director and freelance writer, and an alumni magazine editor addressed more than a hundred people rapt with attention in a crowded meeting room. Their topic was “Telling Your Story: Good Writing Is Still Good Writing in Any Media” and was meant to inspire us to be as creative as possible whether in a tweet, a 2,000-word feature, or anything in between.

Inspire it did. (Search for “#CUPRAP14” on Twitter and bask in the accolades.) For me, though, it did more than that.

Hearing this diverse trio talk of telling your story, no matter who’s listening, no matter who’s telling you not to bother; hearing them exhort us to write with honesty and fearlessness; hearing them urge us to find truth in the universal as well as the minute; hearing all of this and so much more was a smack in the face that got me thinking about my own calling. Not my job, but what I consider my calling.

My gift is the ability to tell stories–I have no doubt of this. Stories can be told in many ways, to many audiences, across many platforms, and I am doing it to a small degree, but not nearly enough. I have no doubt of that, either. I have more stories to tell–my own stories, in my own way.

I need to start telling them. Not want. Need. | DL

‘A Voice That Was All Rage and Envy’

thumbsdownNOT LONG after I became a dad, contemporary, grown-up pop culture began fading from my radar. And so year-end best-of lists (movies, TV shows, songs, books, etc.) of the kind published over the last week hold much less sway with me these days. It’s hard to get excited over such things when you have lots of conversations that begin with “Remember that episode of Victorious when … ?”

Though I no longer read the content of such pieces, I have noticed that alongside the best-of lists, papers and magazines are running worst-ofs. This stinks.

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