n homonym [homənim]
A word having the same sound as another word, but a different meaning.
I’m writing this from New York, where I’m staying for a few days to collect my thoughts and reconnect with what I refer to as womb service, and most people refer to as my mom and dad.
I’ve only been here a handful of hours and I’ve already successfully accomplished all that I wanted to do (eat sushi, watch an absurdly large amount of televised music videos, get a haircut) and now have about ninety-six more hours where I will try my best not to become annoyed when my mother asks me for the umpteenth time if I would like to wear a skirt, or when her seventeen year old blind and deaf dog snarls at me, or when local parents automatically grab their children and gape when I go grocery shopping. Yes. I’m scary, tattooed, androgynous, and need dental floss. Waxed dental floss. Oh, and your kid’s blood and innocence.
Anyway, as I’m paraded around the streets of this adorable town and my mother inevitably runs into one of her chums, I’m forced to go through the rigmarole. There are a few variations but usually it goes something like this:
Me: (vigorously shaking hands) Ainsley. Nice to meet you.
Them: Right! Right. You’re in film!
Me: No. Nope. Went to school for it, but no.
Them: Oh. What do you do?
Me: I’m a copywriter.
Them: Copywriter? Lovely/Wonderful/How nice. Is that copyright law or…
Me: (trying to keep my jaw unclenched and my eyes from rolling like pinballs) No. Not exactly.
I have thought of a list of answers that I would rather use when I’m asked what I do for a living. They include:
The gay agenda.
I’d tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.
and the simple, but effective,
Vagina mime. (Or vagina MIME.)
There’s something about copy writing that is inherently confusing to those who are not Mensa-level smart or exposed to it at a young age. The average person seems to know that fiction is when somebody writes a story in manuscript form and if the resulting book is deemed “good enough” by a list or two it will be stolen by Hollywood and turned into a movie. They know that poetry is for goths, girls, and high-school students. They know that David Sedaris and Augesten Burroughs write this other weird genre called “nonfiction” or “memoir.” And they know that David Foster Wallace writes too damn much.
But copy writing is baffling. They ask if it’s like tech writing (answer: it can be) or they ask if it’s like catalog descriptions (answer: sometimes.) Some ask if it’s porn. Those are the ones we take home with us.
Copyrights can be considered the right to copy something. (Duh.) It pertains to exclusive ownership of work or works, and it was created a helluva long time ago. There’s some government involved, and suits of both law and cloth, money, and a bunch of jargon like statutory license, trade dress, and statutorily-determined term that mean nothing to me. Sites like Muxtape, Pandora, and other peer-to-peer filesharing portals find temporary ways around this legalese. Take a look at the history of Napster. Please don’t come to me for any other information on this subject, though, ’cause I am not into copyrighting. I’m into copywriting. See the difference?
Copywriting, according to Wiki, is using words to promote a person, business, opinion, or idea. It is often associated with advertising, website development, or branding. We have found that it’s not an exact science, just like sorcery, vomiting, and making a fruit salad. Some of our examples of “true” copywriting in our portfolio is the label and text on a bottle of vodka, press releases for automotive accessory websites, company and artist bios, and whimsical histories of brilliant people.
It has nothing to do with ownership and very little money involved (so far.) There’s no law school or skirt suit involved (yet.) To be a copywriter is to be creative, or a creative, or, often, to be a part of a creative agency.
We are a team, not an agency. We’re also flexible, we’re not solely focusing on advertising, although perhaps we should. We’ve done technical writing and feel that, in the long run, that sort of work, along with copy for websites, will be the most lucrative and sustainable.
So, in response to the next old biddy who asks what I’m up to in Portland, “Or-eh-gone” — it’s pronounced Or-ih-gen, dammit! – I’m just going to respond with the obvious:
trying not to starve, writing every day, making-out occasionally, and having a pretty good time.
Say hi to your son, the cardiologist, for me!
Send me what you’d like it to say on your high-school alumni news blurb. AinsleyDrew at the gmail one.