fourth project: short interviews with friends

So my fourth personal project for 2013 will be this: a series of short interviews with friends.

God, I know this probably sounds preachy, but…

Lots of people in the digital/advertising/communications industries live in a bubble world where ‘being creative’, ‘innovating’ or ‘disrupting’ are all terms thrown back and forth with total ease. And they are things that take place, or are thought to take place, during office hours (even if those hours do happen to be extended beyond the average working day).

Many of them happen to be amazingly talented. But their particular brand of creativity (or whatever you want to call it) ends when they happen to punch out for the day.

And there are others who, for all the hyperbole that comes with this industry, work in utterly conventional, short-termist ways, reproducing the same problems and the same solutions simply because that’s the orthodoxy laid out in front of them. They don’t think beyond the year ahead. They only think about brand problems.

But there are also people whose creative energy isn’t completely spent in a normal working day. And there are people who are thinking about what the future of business is in five years’ time, or about problems where the clients are actually just humans at large.

These are the people who are most interesting to me. And I’m lucky to count some as friends.

So I wanted to interview a select few to see what motivates them, what they think about the world they’re living in, and what lessons, however subtle those might be, might be learned from them.

#twentythirteen hits and misses

One of the good things about an enforced deadline for #twentythirteen was the need to keep finding characters and a way to express their stories.

Another was just the really practical thing of letting go: letting go of whether the story was good enough that I would consider publishing it under normal circumstances. That was quite liberating: it meant that inevitably there were hits and misses.

Probably inevitably there were more misses than hits. Most of them wouldn’t have seen the light of day under usual conditions. They seemed to happen most often when I needed to edit down quite aggressively, or was attempting a more lyrical style than I’m used to, or that wouldn’t really fit the formal constraints. Stories eight, four, three and one feel like exemplary failures.

The personal hits on the other hand all felt self-contained, pebble-like. There was no or almost no editing involved, and I think if I’d added much more to them, I would have broken them in some way.¬†Stories six, nine, ten, twelve, thirteen¬†and seventeen¬†in particular all had redeemable qualities.


So I managed to complete my first project of 2013, twenty thirteen-word stories before the end of January, in the nick of time. 

Literally, with about seven minutes to spare before February began.

So it’s been a busy start to 2013, with ideas needed, shoots to plan, and product development pipes being kept warm too. Rather than doing one story every day or so, I ended up doing a lot in a few days. And it really tested my ability to generate stories and take different perspectives. There were some gems, but there was some rubbish too. But that’s part of doing things and doing them fast. I’m pleased to have kept the promise to myself.

Because¬†like Matthew says, I think side projects are the key to All Good Things. If you’re thinking outside and around your supposed focal point, if you treat your work like a gift, then you’ll have more slow-cooked, considered and connective thoughts. And you’ll have more uncontrolled, colliding serendipities too.¬†

So, yes, I’d like 2013 to be as much like this as possible, please.