"Traveling (…down the middle of the road…) soon became a bore so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I met more interesting people there."… Neil Young
What has transpired with my Marvin Gaye National Anthem article since I wrote Part 2?
Apparently, my article will be quoted in the soon to be released sports book GameFace: The Kick-Ass Guide for Women Who Love Pro Sports (and Chris De Benedetti, I still remember you telling me that I’m getting a free copy :.). I continue to receive passionate emails from people who were similarly affected by Marvin’s Anthem. The YouTube video for the Marvin Gaye National Anthem, which had been viewed about 110,000 times when I wrote the story in 1/2007 has now been viewed almost 1.1 Million times and I’d like to think that my story helped contribute just a wee small bit to the total.
I also have to give a shout out to Mike Krzyzewski who attempted to inspire the United States Men’s Basketball team by showing them Marvin’s Anthem which inspired Nike to use the Anthem for one of the best commercials that I’ve ever seen.
Now that I’ve brought you up to date on Marvin (…snickers…), let me get into the real reason for this blog post…
The act of writing my Marvin Gaye National Anthem story caused me to reexamine and ultimately change everything about how I create, develop and present my written content.
Up until I wrote this piece, I had written about two dozen search engine articles. I initially started writing because my former boss suggested that I do it, though I quickly realized that visibility and status in this industry was strongly predicated on getting others to read your stuff and think highly of it. I hadn’t done any writing since leaving school and my first effort was pretty rough (and I thank Jennifer Laycock for publishing stuff that I find painful to look at now).
Even though I was pretty good at coming up with catchy titles and had a decent creative flair with some of my output, I was never really comfortable with writing “mainstream” SEO content. The articles weren’t fun to write, they were slow to create, and I thought them inferior to many others churning out the same stuff (and because so many others were writing on similar topics, I felt my contributions were redundant to the ongoing SEO conversation). I wrote them because I felt that my name had to be out in front of the public at least once per month.
For a period of a few weeks before I wrote about Marvin Gaye’s National Anthem, my memory of that event had been buzzing around in my head and I knew I had to take a crack at the story. My greatest fear was that I couldn’t communicate the power and emotion that occurred during that special moment in time. I hadn’t put out a “personal” story since high school and it would be sacrilege to try to share that story with the world in my reasonably dry SEO article writing style. Marvin’s Anthem was a amazing cultural moment where sports history and music history intersected in grand style and though I was far from the only person to see the event live, I knew I might be the only person who capable of communicating and willing to share what really went down during those magic 2 ½ minutes. I felt that by attempting this story, I bore an awesome responsibility towards anybody who cared about Marvin and his music. I had to write something worthy of the event and my memory.
So, when I sat down to write the story, I attacked my material like a dog would attack a steak. The entire first draft was written in 75 minutes. As many times as I looked it over, I changed less than 10 words from the original draft. I made no attempt to carefully craft my work. I rewound the movie of the event the head and put down exactly what I saw and felt. I wrote the story straight from my heart with as much emotion as I could muster. Writing that story was like driving a race car with failed brakes but my handling was excellent and I was in no danger of crashing.
Though it’s hard to objectively judge one’s own stuff, I felt the story was a quantum step up from anything else I’d ever done. More importantly, I finally discovered a writing process that was fun, exhilarating and allowed me to create much better content much faster than before. Others seemed to dig what I wrote and once Henry Abbott linked to it from TrueHoop, everything started to snowball…
My writing style didn’t change overnight…however, as time marched on, disparate elements began to incorporate themselves into my search engine writings…such as Sex, Exercise, Western Movies, Psychedelic Movies, Farce, and Surrealism. In a couple instances (writing about Spam and Domaining), I abandoned the article format entirely in favor of a fictional dialog. I also demonstrated I could put out publishable material in 20 minutes or even just 5 minutes. Writing is now fun and comfortable for me and I’ve become much more confident in my abilities to write just about anything and have it live up to my high standards.
The reverberations from Marvin’s Anthem continue to echo in my life and I’m sure I’ll be able to trace other personal and professional changes back to the same source.