Draw This Duck

Image by Woody Welch Photography of Austin: Design Ranch 2011

Remember those contests in comic books and bubble gum wrappers? You were asked to draw an exact copy of a line-art duck and qualify to win $1000? (I think it really just landed you on FBI Watch List.) I know one designer (Bill Grant of Canton, GA) who actually did this and it came out looking like “a duck butted blue bird,” according to his daddy. Still, he perservered and became a notable artist.

We all know the pecking order among writers of various sorts–some of whose jobs are considered more “writerly” than others. We’re on a spectrum from technical writer to playwright, ad writer to poet. Are you a novelist, playwright, speechwriter or poet? Or is your job simply “content provider”? In the eyes of the world, do you produce chicken salad or chicken shit?

I give this some thought when I say: I would rather be known as the best jingle writer on earth than die in the potter’s field of unpublished novelists. So rather than focus on the differences between writer types, let’s address what good writers share in common: the love of the story and a gift for word play.

As a commercial writer, my job is to deliver a message. As a creative writer, my hope is to delight. Now, maybe I will never be the next Tennessee, Eudora or Flannery. But, who knows? One day I might write a screenplay about and an ad man who labored throughout his life over a stage play about a man who died unaware of the millions who merrily sang his shampoo jingle in the shower.