CharlieMC (charliemc) wrote,

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Artistic Outlets...

So, as usual, the eNewsletter turns nearly into a joke during the vetting process. What do I mean by this? Well, no matter how many or how few people review it, it gets picked to pieces by everyone involved.

The ironic part? Marilyn is probably the most qualified person on our staff to 'check' the elements of the eNewsletter. She knows history of the festival better than probably anyone living today, she knows about a ton about writing (and the proper way to express things) and she has a genuine artistic sense that helps her understand the elements of the artistic elements and the actual layout. But is she a harsh critic? No. Never. She only offers a few comments and she always has positive things to offer -- every single time.

One of the people I selected to review this decided that my use of parentheses was improper. So I had that pointed out to me at length. Keep in mind that this isn't a matter of incorrect usage -- it's about writing style and preference. I like using parentheses -- always have -- and use them a lot in all my writing. Just like I like using ellipses and the em dash. It's pretty much a matter of taste. But I use these to try and clarify the things I write. And with festival writing, we're sharing information with the public, and I want to make that information as clear as I possible. So did I feel annoyed by this? Well, yes, I did. I mean, my writing style was being attacked, and it was suddenly personal -- even if it shouldn't have been. (sigh)

The stuff that gets 'pointed out' is frequently about as nitpicking as you can ever imagine. Of course I want to know the mistakes (to fix where I've put 2013 and it should be 2014, for example). The people involved in checking this usually all know something about the 'facts' that I don't know -- so it's their job to fill me in. But here's another example: When using links back to our website, we've been using LEARN MORE (about whatever) for at least SIX YEARS. (We've also used it at our website.) I like the fact that we've been really consistent in using these words -- which I think are good -- during this time. When we suddenly started messing around with them, I find it annoying. Our links are ALL underlined and clearly look like links -- I never play around with that, not wanting to confuse people. In the eNewsletter these also change color when you hover them -- again, to make it clear they're links. We don't need to add 'click me' or other verbiage to what is already working. Staff may complain about 'learn more,' but I've NEVER had a member of the public contact me to complain -- and it's NOT because they don't complain about things (believe me!).

Trying to establish that the eNewsletter format doesn't lend itself to lengthy blocks of text is a wasted effort, by the way. Our stuff is ALWAYS text heavy, no matter what I do to try and keep that short. But if people were allowed to have their way, this would probably run 1/3 to 1/2 (or more) LONGER than it does. Plus most people don't understand layout and balance at all. I'm all over that, personally. I want the columns to be relatively the same length, if at all possible. I want a balance of images to text. In the five years we've had an eNewsletter in the past six years (we skipped one year), I've won awards five times for this product. I like to believe I have a good sense of what an eNewsletter should be like. I guess I think I'm something of an 'expert' about them, in other words. No, I don't do these entirely alone. They're very much a team effort -- and I totally credit that effort from others. Still, somebody has to put it all together and 'edit' the final product. And that, my friends, is my job...

By the time we've gone back and forth and back and forth and back and forth -- and I've added things here and removed things there and messed with and tweaked the layout over and over again -- I'm really exhausted by the effort. Okay, maybe sometimes it's not fair to say exhausted (I could be exaggerating a bit... hahaha...), but it is tiring.

On the totally POSITIVE side, I love the artistic outlet that this work provides me! I get to create a header banner each time (which is an artistic blend -- lots of fun!), I get to determine the headlines for the entire thing, plus individual items inside, I get to decide what goes where, I get to pick the images we use and prepare them the way I wish and I get to do the full layout. Plus I generally edit every article -- or write many of them myself. So part of the 'art' I'm speaking about is using my writing skills and my editing skills. And I really enjoy doing that.

In the area of artistic outlets, the eNewsletter is far from the only one I have, by the way. I'm pretty focused on it today, because the eNewsletter just went out this afternoon. (Yes, it should have gone before or around noon -- but after yesterday and all that fuss, I felt good that it went right around 1:30.)

I'm loving all the art associated with Instagram -- especially with these Edits (as they're known) that we create for the fandom-related accounts. Marilyn is loving that, too, which she should -- she's extremely good at it! For the record, she does a lot of things I'm really not able to do. I really respect her eye, her talent and her skill. Mine tends to go a different direction, but like writing there's a matter of style going on here. And it's really satisfying to continue to develop this day by day...

Anyway, there's a lot to be said for taking a talent -- whatever it might be -- and finding some way to use it regularly. I like to believe my high school art teacher (whom I was very close to for many years) would be pleased with what I'm doing now. And what I've done in recent years. She always wanted me to find ways to express my art both as a professional and privately (as a hobby). That's what she did, after all. There was a time in my life when I wasn't sure I'd ever really USE my art for much. How wrong I was!

Oh, I also had English teachers who encouraged my writing -- and I think they'd be equally pleased by how I've managed to use that talent and skill, too. I don't do much writing of fiction right now, but writing works for so many parts of our lives. I wish kids in school knew how much they'll be using writing in their future work, whatever that work might be. Because so many jobs really require you to write all the time...

Okay, that's long enough! And probably boring -- except to me! Sometimes it's nice to reflect on the good and bad aspects of things like this, I guess. What I know for a fact is that the GOOD really outweighs the BAD. I might find days like this annoying and tedious, but I also had some wonderful moments today. And being me, those are the moments I'll remember! I've already received praise for the end product, which is a really nice bonus of this work.

Off to work on the garbage and recycling!!! (Hopefully before it gets any darker or colder!)

Tags: 2013, art, awards, busy, complaints, editing, enewsletter, festival, graphics, instagram, marilyn, november-2013, style, teachers, work, writing

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