I've always been awkward.
I was at an event some weeks back and minutes before I was to go inside I spotted my colleagues mingling together, laughing and such, having a good ol' banter. I walked up to them and said nothing. Just walked up like an asshole with a tomato for a head. Fortunately they didn't notice I was hovering there, and as the sweat started to darken my black shirt a wetter shade of black I panicked. I strode quickly away and phoned a friend. She didn't answer so I talked to her answering machine and crossed my arms. My heart relaxed as I attempted with my impoverished vocabulary to tell her mailbox that I was scared. I hung up and had another go at entering the event. My colleagues had already moved inside. Meters away I glimpsed another known latecomer.
You've just arrived too?
Why yes, just had to take a call.
We went inside and I asked her a thousand questions about her life. She had just completed a PhD and was about to return to her native Spain, she knew not what was ahead of her, but hoped she would soon return to Melbourne. We sat down, I smiled large, tried to cross my legs and settled on a seated position that I felt said "delighted to be here, and you?"
After the talk was over I told a lie so as I could leave pronto.
I've a friend here from Sydney.
I did have a friend from Sydney in town but we had no pressing plans to meet.
In farewell hugging a colleague I smoosshed my face against hers as we simultaneously decided to send our heads in synchronous directions. I picked up my bag and walked briskly out into the cool relief of the night. The friend I had phoned collected me from the train station. Handing me a Magnum she apologised for sending 20 text messages in solidarity.
Despite wanting some days to relate with the world from the comfort of a Storm Trooper helmet I really do feel that awkwardness is a gorgeous thing. In others, it is my favourite quality. It hints at a difficulty, a sensitivity and a vulnerability. It represents an important susceptibility to being impressed by the world; to being affected.
And good writers deeply affect don't they? They confront us with sensations that live within us and want to be known.
Copywriting may not be the stuff of Albert Camus or Miranda July, but it is the writing of the ju ju that most of us inadvertently read every day. It is the writing of and about objects and processes and places and experiences in an affecting way: ideally resonating with "the soft lines of the hills and the hand of evening on this troubled heart." And if copywriting can capture the gentle perceptibility of the shy, awkward, impressionable ones, then I think it may well be a force for doing something closely resembling good.
The header image is of French writer Albert Camus. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957 and was tragically killed in a car accident when he was just 46. He was likely awkward; he does appear somewhat on point in this image though. Awkward or not, he did say a very many perceptible, poetic and poignant things about being a human being, including this gem, "man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is." So true Camus.