Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Metaphors and Parallels

I’ve been having a recurring dream. And now that I have remembered it, it will cease.

Ever since I started playing, I have had dreams about poker. I don’t particularly care to have them, for often enough, and perhaps not surprisingly, they are bad beats. Or I wake up before the river. I don’t know much about brain chemistry, but I’d say mine has been altered by this infernal game, my drug of choice. Hence, some synapse occasionally fires off a poker dream, and I have had another one for two nights running. However, these dreams are a little different. There are no cards.

The cards were replaced by words, specifically ad copy. This really shouldn’t surprise me, for I’m now spending more time writing and researching for my client than I am playing poker. Still, poker with copy? Why not? Stakes are involved.

The inquiring reader will want to know: Was I winning? In short, I believe so. Yet, the dreams go much deeper. For one, the “feeling”, the adrenaline rush of a made hand, the flirtation with the precipice as I three-barrel a bluff and the longing of a draw were all present. In writing copy that “sells”, I know when I have written a remarkable call-to-action, an opaque, verisimiltudinous, but hopefully effective piece of bullshit or a closing paragraph that sums it all up with another call-to-action. Yet, what is missing in these dreams is the showdown. Writing of this kind is a waiting game: Will they bite?

I tell a joke about my career as an ad copywriter. You see, I removed myself from this arena several years ago. I was fried. Here’s the joke: I used to be in advertising, and then I decided that I wanted to go to heaven. End of joke. It always elicits a chuckle. Now I have to stop telling the joke. Since asbestos has fallen out of favor, what is an acceptable fire retardant?

It is said that God does not answer prayers about the lottery or the stock market. It seems the same would hold true for poker, despite people’s incessant references and calls to the poker gods. Nor do I pray to write effective copy. I’m on my own here, and let the chips fall where they may.

Ah, fatalism.

Nah, not really. More like a rhetorical mask for some performance anxiety. I play the lottery on occasion, especially when the pot gets up over $55,000,000. Why that amount? Let’s just say that I have my reasons. And until recently, I was doing pretty well with the stock market. Yet, the decline didn’t wipe us out. Due diligence is effective, and when the air clears, I’ll get back in and hopefully hit a couple 100%ers again. Poker is another story, yet eerily parallel. The swings are traumatic, yet not fatal. Perhaps more due diligence (reading) is needed.

That leaves copywriting.

A lot has changed in the eight years since I wrote for a living. In that time the Web has become a behemoth of content. Buzzwords for key industry concepts have changed: Opt-in; viral marketing, bundling…the learning curve is pretty steep, yet I’m handling it. I am beginning to see yet-unexploited trends to strategize around. And this is where the dreams come in. My brain is reconfiguring for the new challenge, and so far I’m feeling positive about the prospects. I know I have a pretty good hand; I’m just waiting for the other players to show.

No comments: