Go to Work on an Oeuvre: some more thoughts on copywriting novelists (chapter two)

‘Every agency had it’s frustrated copywriter whose real life was being a frustrated novelist working on a small, angry book about work.’ (Joshua Ferris, Then we came to the end) 

There are a whole tribe of copywriters who have made that transition from writing ‘commercial’ ad copy to writing novels – arguably a more artistic or ‘worthwhile’ pursuit. But why is one so much more respected than the other? Aren’t they both story-tellers at heart?Gordon Comstock, a frustrated poet (Copywriter) in George Orwell’s Keep the Aspadistra Flying, puts the problem as follows:

‘William Shakespeare wrote ‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on’. William Blake wrote ‘Tiger Tiger, burning bright, in the forest of the night.’ Gordon Comstock wrote ‘corner table enjoys his meals with Bovex.’ 

Is copywriting basically verbal prostitution? I mean, at £300 a day writing ads for gas-guzzling cars, shouldn’t we all just give that up and put our talents to better use – go and write poetry for free?  

Personally, I (Lol) don’t think we should be so hasty to give up the day job. I might be alone in this, but I can personally admit to loving copywriting and novel writing in equal measure, and I think one skill complements the other nicely. But I’ll explain why another day….TBC…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s