Alternative vocations for professional wordworkers
By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — It has been said of baby boomers that we are the first generation to reincarnate repeatedly within a single lifetime.
Sometimes it’s called “reinventing ourselves,” as Baby Boomer Madonna has exemplified over the years.
Photographer John Flannery, recently summed up my work history this way: “veteran wordworker.”
Personally, I’ve been pretty happily settled into journalism from age 13, when I had my first paying gig for a Michigan daily, to the present, though I admit there are have been some jaunts into other fields over the decades.
I was a vice president for a couple of Florida’s largest advertising agencies and headed my own public interest public relations firm in metropolitan Portland, Ore. I’ve been an arts council executive in Palm Beach, Fla., coordinated a network of public, private and academic libraries, handled media relations for Michigan State University and Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, planned fiestas and concert series and even set up permanent and rotating art exhibits and musical performances at an international airport.
Believe it or not, all these,—and pretty much every gig I’ve had over the last half-century— have involved writing in some form.
No matter the job, the clients and situations, it has always fallen to me to tell the stories. I’ve written newspaper and magazine articles, media releases and public service announcements. And newsletters, display ads, radio and television commercials, headlines, billboards and even a few political buttons and aerial banners.
I’ve written three books: a biography, a novel and a mystery, and contributed to several other volumes over the years. I’ve written a documentary and several poems and songs (as you might expect, I’m stronger on lyrics than music).
When I worked with Ballet Florida, I was not leaping and hovering around en pointe, I was writing librettos, little summaries of the stories that inspired various ballets so the dancers would have some insight into characters like Salome.
I’ve collaborated on titles and phrases for medical abstracts and names for new restaurant chains and upscale housing developments.
Even on occasions when pictures should have been worth more than a thousand words, I’ve been asked to contribute a few well-chosen mots. Once, when I was gallery-sitting for a friend in Santa Fe, I got bored and rechristened a few of her paintings with some more poetic descriptions ... and was treated to lunch and a signed original when the renamed works all sold that week.
It’s been a life full of words for me, all right.
But sometimes, when I’m having a rough day, I reflect on that old Monty Python segue line: And now, for something completely different.
Stories in recent weeks have introduced me to vocations I didn’t know were out there.
Recent artist of the week Peter Miche told me about being a certified celebrant: which, according to the Celebrant USA Foundation Institute, involves “Creating, designing and facilitating ceremonies and rituals marking those important transitions in life, such as coming of age ceremonies, home blessings, house warmings and baby naming/blessings.”
Sounds cool, and I’m sure many of my festival planning and promotion and Palm Beach party planning skills would come in handy. But I suspect lots of words are involved in all those symbolism-rich ceremonies.
While interviewing Bruce DeFoor about the Ruidoso Kite Festival, I learned there are actually professional kite fliers who are sought-after for festivals throughout the planet.
So now, come what may, I am a wordworker with an alternative life style plan.
I can always turn pro on the international kite circuit.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org