Ten people I want to thank for teaching me what matters in writingSeptember 18, 2013
1 My Mum
For showing me that the best way to get a company to recompense you for poor service isn’t blowing your stack at the till assistant, but by writing a calm, measured and detailed letter to the CEO, itemising just exactly how he let her down.
2 My Dad
For introducing me to poetry and the fun you can have with words when you’re NOT trying to flog somebody something. His favourite word is “estuarine”.
3 Stephen King
For scaring me sh*tless with stories. And then explaining how in his book, On Writing.
4 Drayton Bird
For teaching me how to write sales letters that sell (buy the book before it goes out of print). And for being a generous supporter – and occasional lunch companion – throughout my career.
5 David Ogilvy
For opening my eyes to the way advertising works when it’s really working – and for providing a bottomless pool of superb quotes that I use to enliven my workshops and courses.
6 Bill Bernbach
For writing the “Lemon” ad and teaching me how to lay out an ad AND write genius product copy.
7 Maurice Sendak
For writing Where The Wild Things Are and including a 74-word sentence that just rolls along like the dream it describes. Even the best rules about sentence length are there to be broken.
8 Miss Bland
For forcing me to write more than I wanted to in an English exercise at school. I wrote drivel and she let me cross it all out, remarking, “Hmm, perhaps I should have let you stop when you’d finished”.
9 Trevor Fenwick
For telling me, in my first week working as a junior copywriter in the eighties, that copywriting had to modify people’s behaviour. If it didn’t do that, it had failed.
10 Roger McGough
For showing me that poetry didn’t have to be all, “O! Butterfly, with thy iridescent wings aflutter in the shimmering sunlight”.