September 24, 2003

So, the question got popped today

Yes. That one: "What are you--a freelance writer, a PR person..." I could almost hear a silent "Or what?" at the end of the sentence.

Oh boy. I decided to answer it, since I've been getting the question for a couple of months now. But it wasn't an easy answer, and it took me a really long and winding email to explain it to the person asking, not to mention myself.

So much for my elevator statement.

Messaging Department, take a note.

I mean, in the traditional corporate career, you either write contributed articles and case studies and press kits and the like, or you write journalistically. You pick. One's a sleezy profession, one's honorable. One people run from, the other they like to rub elbows with.

Here, look at my poetry. We write kind of similar stuff, don't you think?

Well, no. I mean, not really. But okay. I like it when people like me. That works. So sure.

No one ever says, Oooooooh! Did you write that contributed article on Data Warehousing in DM Review last month? Was that your story on the customer information architecture by that CEO in Healthcare Informatics? {swoon}

No. That activity is not becoming for a writer. It simply pays the bills.

i.e.=sellout.

For my entire career, it's been a cut and dry answer for me. At Kodak it was technical writing; at STI, marketing and PR writing, at Crescent the same, at Ketchum more of the same times 20.

Even the stuff I wrote under my own name over those years, some that paid pretty well, was somehow separate from how I made my living. You know, my CAREER.

How I made my living was PR and Marketing writing.

But how I make my living now is not that simple. Because, if you've been following along with the home game, you know I got laidoff--or should I say I declined their offer to stay--by the Passion and Precision in Communication folks in April.

So, today I do everything.

Whatever interests me and pays, I do it.

And that isn't what most people do.

You're agency or you're corporate.

You're a PR person or you're a writer.

Always sides. Always dividing lines. Always a way to separate voice from itself.

So today, I find myself doing both kinds of writing within a business landscape that has been oiled and tuned for decades to see the dividing line, the hierarchy, the bottom feeders of PR versus the editorial elite.

And I don't fit either mold. Or I fit both. I'm in Media Map as a weblog journalist. Soon I'll be in Media Map as a freelance writer. I also use Media Map for one of my clients, the only one currently for whom I do PR.

What do you make of that? What does that make me?

Yesterday, when this very issue started swirling around my head, I decided that the identity crisis I'm going through is less about ME and more about a subtle change that's taking place around VOICE. Voice with a capital V. Thanks to blogging.

The way I see it today is that the imaginary lines that have for so long separated and silenced human beings as Voices are in place largely because the human voice doesn't fit within the business model, preferences, or pet peeves of big media NOR does it fit the business models, preferences, and brown nosing of BigPR. Not to mention corporations in general, AKA: the client.

Thanks to the Net and most especially blogging, the human voice is beginning, ever so subtly, to rise to the top. To become media. Voice as media resonataing with message. It doesn't matter the outlet, the voice is becoming the place of broadcast wattage. What that means is that I don't care whether I read it in CIO magazine under Halley Suitt's name, or whether Halley Suitt writes it under Jack Bennett's (who? i dunno--it's just a name) name, or if she writes it for Penthouse. You can't deny her voice. I'll know it's her. Even when it's not her. You see?

Give me a Suitt, hold the mayo, extra ketchup.

It's like that. It's a Kleenex thing.

Our day is here. We used to have to bury our voices in business. But that's changing. Even if it's changing because the loudest and most obnoxious among us are being cast out.

GOOD! That's GOOD!

If we are doing nothing else here, we are honing our ears for honesty.

Bloggers know when something sounds dishonest--it doesn't hold our interest for long. We know when someone is telling us something from the gut, something they believe in. We are captivated. It doesn't matter if they're telling us about running out of paper towels and having nothing left to blow their noses in, or if they're telling us the GMAC mini van they bought already sucks wastewater, it is the VOICE----the heart, the soul----of the writer we're tuning into here.

And you once you've tuned into that, you can't tune out just because business wants you to.

You can't turn off genuine voice--you want more and more and more of it, because it makes you feel alive. You hear the heartbeat within it. You know someone's in there.

Tap a vein, I'm comin' in.

Where was I going with this?

Oh yes. The "What am I" question.

I think, from here forward, my answer will be: A blogger.

This other stuff I do, it's just markin' time.

Can I hear an Amen?

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