Turning Words Into Swords

Douglas Rushkoff’s critical editorial in the pages of GOOD Summer 2013 coaxed me out of my head and onto my keyboard. He wrote, “Reading a copy of GOOD provokes both inspiration and inferiority….While I like to think of myself as doing good, when I am confronted by a cadre of folks doing magazine-layout-worthy good, I am at once motivated and paralyzed.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. More pointedly, I didn’t.

For years I have described myself as a good but slow writer. The good part comes from decades of painstaking practice as a book writer and magazine editor–jobs that require my trademark vision and persistence. Their deadlines and expectations sharpen my attention. The slow part comes from years in anxiety-filled English classes where my lack of spelling skills lead to missing forrests for trees. [I now see I spelled forest wrong, but find it red-squiggly-underline ironic enough to leave in.] Although spellcheckers coach from the screen, uncomfortable memories sit on my desk. Reading succinct articles leave me inspired and envious. I run toward taking action elsewhere and rarely look back.

Rushkoff’s missive followed a passage from the magazine’s charter: [Implicit] is the pervading sense that we can always do a little better.

Rather than rip out the page to file away, I’m facing the screen and my demons–aiming to spur on others to not only read but to write. While the social-everything era makes it seem like more people have become bloggers than doers, I’m reminded right now that’s not so. If someone like me, who has written so much, feels insecure in her writing skills, many more people haven’t even considered capturing in words what they’ve done.

Our world needs inventive options from as many practitioners as possible, not just more sound-byte worthy ideas from pundits building brands. It’s time for me to surf this change. I invite you to join me in the waves.

If you have crafted a new and better way to work, I want to help you share your story. I’m a fellow traveler, deeply interested in illuminating what’s next. If I can work through self-doubts, my hunch is that you can too. Drop me a line. Unravel your saga. Let’s get clear on what’s holding us back.

With this post I’m gathering courage, sharing quickly (gasp!) what I’ve done right alongside notes on the journey. Perhaps I can provide a voice and a space that says, “Let’s try this together.”

I end here with Rushkoff’s close, both prescriptive to the magazine’s GOOD and our own. “My advice is to focus on groups over individuals, and verbs over nouns. It’s not the heroes who matter so much as the groups that have modeled their behavior; it’s not the things that matter so much as the actions we take.”

Here’s to turning our deeds into words and our words into swords.


Note: Although I haven’t yet found an online version of Rushkoff’s piece, if I find one, I’ll post it here. If you find one, would you add it into the comments? It’s entitled, “Turning Swords Into Plows” on page 13 of the print edition.

Photo credit: BBMExplorerMother Russia, Mamayev Kurgan

Turning Words Into Swords
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