How I Write Articles

“For many thousands of years every book that was produced had to be written by a scribe. Then, at last, someone thought of using type, and so changed the world.”

- The Wonderland of Knowledge

I like to brag about being able to write a good article on any subject. With the internet offering up seemingly endless amounts of information my greedy fingertips, it’s possible, if not easy, to become an expert on almost any subject. I begin with Wikipedia to give myself a general sense of the lingo I’m working with, then spider out from there, consulting technical how-to articles and blogs chronicling personal experience alike to develop an all-round picture.

But sometimes my problem isn’t sounding like an expert, it’s finding something fresh to write about on a subject I’ve exhausted. Researching my next post is often half the battle. And I’ve learned that I can’t put a time restriction on it. Sometimes, I get up in the morning with an idea in my head. Sometimes, an idea comes to me looking at the day’s news. Sometimes, I spend six or seven (largely un-billable) hours staring at the internet until it makes me want to vomit.

But eventually, inevitably, an idea does come.

Last night, it came in the unusual form of a blog post on the subject of type. I write a lot about printing and graphic design, but above braggadocio aside, I have to admit that I cannot wrap my head around typography. The delicate whirl of serifs, the unfathomable science of kerning, the simultaneously obvious and invisible distinctions that make Verdana good and Comic Sans baad…what does it all mean?

Typography doesn’t seem to be one of those things I can learn through research, or even through working with graphic designers who shake their heads at me in disgust when I attempt to choose a font for my own writing.

So although I write about print and advertising, design and copywriting, I stay me away from typography. And it hurts, both my repertoire, and my pride. It hurts like being ignored by that boy in school, no matter how much you bat your lashes at him.

Which is perhaps why I was so delighted to find an excellent blog called The Ministry of Type, that has just done a post on The Romance of Printing, an entry in an old encyclopedia called The Wonderland of Knowledge.

So why is printing romantic?

Because it gave the written word to everyone.

Because it was carved out of wood, and stone, and done using lovely pale paper and luscious midnight-dark inks.

Because The Wonderland of Knowledge tells us things like, “lead…one of the heaviest of metals, came to serve as wings for words and thoughts, and for the spread of knowledge.”

On Hotcards.com, I reviewed The Ministry of Typography blog, I talked about the romance of print in modern life, I shared some of my favorite quotes from the encyclopedia entry, and finished on a question, asking readers if they still think of printing as an art.

And there you have it. An article about typography. Maybe my high school English teacher would take away marks for being too liberal with my definition of the subject matter, but for me the important thing was engaging with the subject at all. Or maybe, I should say, flirting with the subject.

I felt stuck, and I found inspiration. I was nervous, but I found the opportunity to connect. I was ignorant, and now, maybe, I’m just the tiniest bit more knowledgeable.

And that’s what writing a good article is all about – searching, finding, and sharing. Sometimes it can seem impossible, but if it can happen for me and typography, it can happen to anyone at anytime.

Toon-FX

I was engaged on a contract basis by Toon-FX to develop a blog/online graphic novel to be used as a marketing tool for their software product.

April 2008 – November 2008

toon-fxToon-FX is a software company creating technology that allows users to turn photos, videos, and online chat sessions into really cool cartoon images. To promote their software, Toon-FX hired me to create comic book-style characters who would blog about their crazy adventures, using Toon-FX to tell their stories. I built and maintained Wordpress blogs, Facebook accounts, and MySpace accounts for two characters – a teen eco-warrior, and a zombie cheerleader.

This project also involved:

  • Writing epic adventure stories for each character.
  • Taking a creative director position in the development of photos and video used in the project.
  • Working closely with digital image artists and web developers to create effective visuals for the marketing materials.
  • Using social media networking to connect with Toon-FX key demographics.

Sonic Weekly

I write feature articles, often 3-part series, for SonicWeekly.com, an ezine geared towards musicians and other recording industry professionals.

August 2005 – Present

Way back in 2005, two very cool cats, Jethro Ruthrauff and Esther Reyes, interviewed me about getting on board with their project – creating an online music resource for musicians. Most of their writers were based in LA, as are they, and they were uncertain about working with a writer long-distance. But since we began working together, we’ve not only put together some great writing by collaborating online, we’ve also had the opportunity to meet up and get to know each other, thanks to our mutual love of travel. And now that Jethro and Esther have begun focusing entirely on their project, look out for Sonic Weekly going great places!

Since beginning to work with Sonic Weekly, I have:

  • Developed feature-length articles and interviews on relevant topics affecting musicians today.
  • Found my own interview sources and conducted interviews with artists all over the world via email and phone.
  • Worked closely with an editor and met tight deadlines on a regular basis.

Ducking the Keukenhof Entry Fee

Over the weekend, me and some friends decided to drive out to the area around Keukenhof to see the famous Dutch tulip fields. We didn’t actually want to PAY to go into the gardens, which costs something like 16 euros and is perennially packed, so I didn’t know how much we were actually going to get to see, and my expectations were…not high.

I try to be an optimistic traveler, but when you’re adventuring, and you decide not to follow the nicely marked tourist signs, there’s always that risk that instead of discovering something new and fresh and fabulous, you’ll find yourself in the middle of unspectacular nowhere, faced with a long walk back to anywhere.

Lucky for us, this was one of those times when heading off the beaten track paid off. As soon as we neared Keukenhof, we began to see endless, shimmering fields of not only tulips, but daffodils and hyacinth. Every color of flower imaginable was fully in bloom, and we were able to drive directly down dirt roads into fields, and walk between the glossy rows.

redtulips

We saw huge expanses of uniformly planted red and yellow tulips, as well as more specialized farms that cropped unusual and coyly rustling varieties. The fields were divided by the irrigating version of the canals Holland is so famous for, and occasionally, a boat of drowsy tulip watchers glided by, causing us to vow to procure one of these little vessels (which precisely bring to mind the craft immortalized in the ballad, “row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream…”) for ourselves.

Life did seem to be but a dream for at least a few of the tulip visitors we saw. We spent a few minutes watching one young guy in the distance that was making a concerted, and probably exhausting effort to frolic through the flowers, leaping high into the air one minute, before disappearing to, I imagine, crawl or roll amongst the blossoms. Clearly a dude intent on having his one-with-nature moment.

daffodils

pinktulips

But of course, not all the tourists painted such a (goofily) idyllic picture. We saw a lot of people stomping out into the middle of a row of hyacinth to get that perfect shot, and as many couldn’t walk away without swiping a quick handful of soon-to-wilt souvenirs. Not that I can blame them. The tulips and co. were so incredibly abundant and brilliant that it was hard to imagine them being diminished even if every single tourist did feel compelled to grab their own piece of Dutch springtime.

tulipslikefire

meinthetulips

I can’t imagine the cherry blossom season in Japan being more picturesque. As we walked among the rows, a windmill churned placidly in the distance, cyclists sailed by on the wide red paths that crisscross the country, and the strong spring breeze sent the for-some-reason-unexpected scent of flowers whirling around us. Not just the overwhelming hyacinth, but the unique fragrances of tulip and daffodil, that I don’t think I ever fully appreciated until I found myself surrounded by them in the millions.

By the time we had meandered out of tulip country, we were minutes away from the North Sea, so we headed to the long, sandy beach at Zandvoort for beers and frites and sunshine.

All in all, one of the best days I’ve spent outdoors in the Netherlands. I’m sure Keukenhof proper is amazing, but sometimes the best revelatory experiences can’t be bought for any price.

Thanks for the pics, Carrie!

Welcome to my brand-new website!

I’m pretty excited. Over the last few days, I’ve been working on this new site with my co-conspirator, web developer extraordinaire, Mr. Aidan McQuay.

When we first started this business of telecommuting, oh, about three years ago now, we built a business website for our shared project, Float Solutions, and we threw together a page where I could direct prospective employers. Since then, however, we’ve been running so fast that we haven’t had a lot of time to rethink or rebuild.

old-websiteHowever, the nature of online industry is changechangechange. No website or ecommerce model is so successful that it won’t be old news in five years if it doesn’t adapt. So after much humming and hawing and “I’m too busy,” and other sundry excuses, I’m finally remodeling.

This is my new site. Have a look around, compare it to the old model, and let me know what you think!

Hotcards.com

I write a daily blog, provide SEO-targeted web content, and develop social media presence for Hotcards.com, a printing and design house based in Cleveland, OH.

January 2006 – Present

Hotcards.comAt the beginning of 2006, Columbus Woodruff, CEO of Hotcards.com, came to me with a proposal. He wanted Hotcards to be more than just another online storefront. He wanted his printing website to be an industry hub, and a resource for anyone seeking information about printing, print design, and direct mail.

Since beginning to work with Hotcards in 2006, I have:

  • Developed and driven daily traffic towards the Hotcards blog, which covers topics relevant to politics, the environment, the economy, and other areas both relevant to the printing industry and of interest to the layman.
  • Regularly developed fresh content, such as product articles, how-tos, and a print dictionary, and worked within the company CMS to put it up on the website.
  • Assisted in the development of marketing materials online and in print.
  • Employed social media and networking (Twitter, Technorati, community-based news aggregators, relevant online printing communities) to drive traffic to Hotcards.com.

In a recent interview, CEO Columbus Woodruff attributed Hotcards’ ability to weather the recession to its strong web presence.

© 2009 ElectroScribe. All Rights Reserved.