I’ve just finished my 7th (and final, at least for now) essay about America. I’m not a writer so it did take me awhile. And the stories aren’t as good as if an actual writer did the same project. But I still think they matter. Why? Short answer: because they’re timely, personal, and as political pieces they were written by someone who doesn’t (really) work in politics.
So here are my notes. Why I spent so much time working on these stories. And full discloser, I did enjoy all the reworking, restructuring, and refining. As a person who spends most of his days concerned with images it was nice to be so concerned with the words.
And why so concerned with America? Well, because:
I think these times are extraordinary. Whether you whole-heartedly support what’s been happening to America in the last two years or you whole-heartedly don’t, I really wanted to go on the record in all this madness. While it was still happening. Without much distance for reflection. Instead, a gut level response to the events that will shape our lifetimes for decades to come.
I’ve always (and I mean always) been very concerned with what it means to be an American. From a very young age. My grandfather, like so many others, fought against fascism in WWII. When he was 22 he was fighting Nazis. When I was 22 I didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do with my life. He did something consequential, how was I going to do that? The fact that I live in America at this moment in time, seems to me, that I should do something that matters. Still working on what exactly that is.
I’m not professionally qualified to write on any of the topics covered aside from the finer point that I’m an American citizen and I think every American citizen should do the same thing I did. Meaning, don’t just root and cheer or bitch and moan in the privacy of your own head. Get your thoughts out there because the process of doing so is beneficial to both you and others.
Even though I’m professionally qualified to be a graphic designer, and after all these years that’s where I put on the most comfortable hat, I do technically work in politics. I’ve designed for activist campaigns, politicians, and other political efforts. The highlight? President Obama’s re-election campaign. But still, I speak the language of design, not politics. So when I have taken to long form writing, it’s typically been about design. And process. And projects. Things I am, in fact, an expert on. But I suppose I brush up close enough to the world of politics where I felt I needed to evolve a bit. And that I had something interesting to say.
I’m super liberal. I’m quite an informed citizen—NPR, the New York Times, all sorts of political podcast. I live in a very Republican red state. And I grew up in a super duper conservative small town where Democrats were referred to as baby-killers, terrorist-sympathizers, and anti-America. It was great. Mashing all that together for a series of stories about America, that should be interesting, yeah?
Just something to note. If you’re a conservative, don’t let your kids grow up listening to punk rock. There’s no telling what will happen.
Also, note. These stories were written for readers. My editor really pushed to also make them scannable with a good amount of subheads. In the end, I always agreed with her. I mean 16 minutes, whose gonna read something that long?
I wanted to work on my writing. This was as good an exercise as any. Hence, I worked with an editor and each story was fine-tuned so it was presented in the way I fully intended. Not just spouting off on Facebook here and there.
I think that’s it. If you’re interested, you can read all 7 stories on Medium.