J.G. Ballard: Copywriter & Novelist Extraordinaire

Category: On Writing Posted: March 7th, 2017

It’s often considered copywriters always have a novel or short story waiting in the wings, hoping to find fame and fortune from their writing. In other words, copywriting just masquerades as their day job as they pursue their literary dreams.

Copywriters as Novelists

This may be true for some, such as myself, although I’m aware in today’s economy being a “successful” author means very little. Content management and copywriting is my career and I’m planning to facilitate it by being a published author – fame isn’t something I want and there’s a misguided modern belief a fortune indicates a life well led.

As a big believer in modesty and humility, I find it disconcerting to see so many people lusting after an extravagant lifestyle. For me, the purpose of getting published is to enjoy the reaction – I’d simply enjoy it if people enjoyed the book, in the same way I enjoy it if a client is happy with the work I’ve produced.

The Successful Copywriter

There are, of course, plenty of copywriters who did go on to be very successful. Off on a tangent here, but Formula One commentating legend Murray Walker worked in advertising before, as a second career, taking up a microphone.

My focus for today is the brilliant J.G. Ballard, however. Although a science-fiction writer primarily, his exceptional novel Empire of the Sun (based on his experiences during World War II) was adapted into the brilliant Steven Spielberg film in 1987.

Ballard worked as a copywriter for a while, although struggled to get his science-fiction short stories published (during his era, sci-fi was generally sneered at). Ballard does represent a sect of copywriters who are looking to get published, but his story is a one off.

My purpose with this post is to point out the importance of staying grounded and appreciate your successes as they come. You don’t need to land a £3 million book deal and endless plaudits to be considered a success – simply enjoy your work as being a copywriter, for any creative person, can be a wonderful way to work.

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