Why you shouldn’t toe punt mushrooms

I can remember it like it was yesterday.

It was one of those kinda sunny, but also kinda windy days – the sort you get as summer slowly turns into autumn.

Just before the leaves commence their big fall from the sky to the ground.

I was about seven years old and I was in one of those nature parks that you go to at that age – along with my family and my best friend’s family.

Back in those days I was the kinda kid who loved to bomb his way through the park – following the trail, hoping that there’ll be some kind of pot of gold at the end of it.

I was somewhat annoyed when everyone else stopped halfway through.

I turned round to see why, and saw that everyone had congregated around a huge mushroom.

It was one of those mega colourful, grand looking ones – the type that looks as if it might be a palace for bugs and other assorted wildlife.

Everyone was cooing and wowing over it.
I wasn’t interested in it.
It was holding me up.

So, in one sweeping self-centred motion, the sole of my Wellington boot came crashing down on it. It fell in on itself and flitted out of existence with a resounding puff.

To put it mildly, everyone was pissed.

I was the villain of the hour.

Everyone else had loved the look of it, they were intrigued…and, back in those days, it took much longer to take a photo as digital cameras weren’t really around – meaning no one had had time to take a photo.

Do you know what I learnt that day?

What appeals to others, doesn’t always appeal to you and vice versa.

Respect what others enjoy.

And, when it comes to marketing something, remember that – just because it isn’t your cup of tea – doesn’t mean that it won’t metaphorically quench the rest of the world’s metaphorical thirst.

Look through the eyes of others to see it from their point of view before you stamp on it…

A map for your feelings…

“I think that is what film and art and music do; they can work as a map of sorts for your feelings.”

– Bruce Springsteen

Apologies for the lack of a post yesterday – life, as it does, got in the way.

P.S. The album photo I included was one of my favourite ever albums as a kid. When I first got a CD walkman I fished it out of my dad’s CD collection and almost played it to death!

Wanted: Solar-powered clothes dryer

For as long as we humans have walked the Earth, many of us have been honest.

Many of us have wanted to work hard, help others and then reap the rewards for our labour.

However, there are also those of us who look to to scam and deceive everyone around us!

These scam artists often tend to be very creative…I guess not all of us creatives can be good, can we?

Let me take you back the sixties and seventies. The war was well over, the baby boomers were here and people had a quality of life that would have seemed alien to them some years before.

Gadgets were all the rage (as they are now).

Solar-power was one of the buzzwords of the time and everyone wanted to use it whenever they could.

Why not help out the planet as and when you can?

A man called Steve Comisar was out to make some money.

Print advertising was big back then.

So he put an advert in the magazines and papers selling this amazing new gadget:

“Solar-powered clothes dryer – just $39. The planet friendly way to dry your clothes – never use your tumble-dryer again. Send the money and I’ll have one sent out to you within a week, free delivery – life-time guarantee!”

Believe me when I say that people bought into the idea. Families rushed to send over their hard-earned dollars.

And then they waited. Curiously. Sitting there, in their homes, imagining how this new, wacky invention might look.

You can imagine their surprise when it arrived. It looked just like this:

MEN-JJ09-clothesline1

Yep, just your average, run-of-the-mill clothesline. One that you can find in nearly every garden in the country.

As you can imagine people were pissed, and Steve Comisar is still doing time now for that and a combination of other scams.
(I believe that the only U.S. con artist bigger than him was Frank Abingale – he was the guy the film ‘Catch Me If You Can’ was based on.)

Of course I’m not saying that we should go around scamming people, and I’m not advocating a crook.

But – there’s creativity here.

Comisar looked at the current market, saw a theme that everyone was interested in (solar power) and then found a new way to market something around it.

Why don’t we embrace creativity like this and use it to market and sell genuine products?

Or perhaps, if we’re writing fiction – we can take a standard plot, and re-imagine it in such a way that it gets a new lease of life?

The last man on Earth sat alone in a room…

“The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door.”

How’s that for a first line? (Or maybe two lines, as there’s a full stop in-between).

It conjures up a lot of questions and it had me, for one, wanting to read on.
Who is this man?
What happened to everyone else?
Is he the last man on the earth, or the last actual person?
Etc.

When it comes to writing anything that you want someone to read it’s important to hook them in, from either the headline or the first line. It seems kind of obvious, doesn’t it?

But then, you’d be surprised how few people actually put it into practice.

‘On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.’ (Copyblogger)

Ask a question, inspire thought – do something that will make the reader want to continue.

Because, once you’ve written than opening line, every other word you write is, in itself, a reason to get your audience to read the next word.

If you’re interested in where that quote came from at the start, it’s been taken from the short story ‘Knock’ – written by Fredric Brown.

It was based on the following short segment of text, which was written by Thomas Bailey Aldrich:

“Imagine all human beings swept off the face of the earth, excepting one man. Imagine this man in some vast city, Tripoli or Paris. Imagine him on the third or fourth day of his solitude sitting in a house and hearing a ring at the door-bell!

Class dismissed.