This is Day 6 of a 21-day effort to see the good in what might, at first, look like an irredeemable drag. Its name comes from a classic bit of dialogue uttered by actor Kevin Bacon in a classic film of my generation, Animal House.
I'd never actually been to a Learning Annex class. I'd only laughed at the course catalogs and the sad pipe dreams they seemed to represent: Making Big Money; Meeting Your Perfect Mate; Mastering Photoshop.
But something about the course description forwarded to me by a friend caught my eye, "Turn your writing into a column?" Hell, I have enough writing out there and in me for a thousand columns. And it was time to monetize with the help of the experts!
When I walked up to the room, I was sure I was in the wrong place. There was some mistake. Not only did the class seem to be underway, it just didn't look like the place where I was going to learn to monetize anything. It looked small and brightly lit and vaguely sad, like most for-rent offices in most office parks at 6:45 at night.
The instructor was great, though. Very welcoming, very passionate and fun and full of life. So I thought, Hey, I'll play. And so, when the time came 'round for me to summarize who I was (the communicatrix!) and what I did (translate truth into various media since 1961!) I did it with passion and vigor. And was met with the stares of 50 uncomprehending eyes.
I suck at summing myself up. Me, the great translator. Me, the creator of designs and logos, the teller of tales, the relatrix of stories that keep 'em coming back for more. I suck suck suck on the subject of me and what I do.
So I sat there for the rest of the class, egg on my face, smoldering with the shame of it all. Of being smacked down. Of listening to person after person describe, SUCCESSFULLY and SUCCINCTLY, who they were and what their column was and how it would change the world. Hell, I would read their columns; I sure as shit wouldn't read mine. Translating truth into various media since 1961? Who the fuck gives a flying fucking rat's fuck in hell about that, I ask you?!?
It hit me hard in that class: yes, I have some native talent and skill. Yes, I have passion and an urge to change the world. Yes, I even have (god help me) credentials of some kind. But if I don't hunker down and get specific about it, if I can't serve up what it is in a way that is immediately clear and compelling to people, I will struggle along with my small audience of intrepid souls and lost Googlers. (Really lost, most of them.)
Thank you, Learning Annex. Thank you, my teachers. Thank you, humiliation, for the lesson in...well, humility.
And hey, I'm not proud: if any of you have any idea of how to sum up what it is I do, or even better, what it is you get out of these words I put out there, please.
I am all ears. (And one big head...)