Writing Life: A Failure to Communicate

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© 2014 by Raymond Alexander Kukkee

Archie Comics

Archie Comics   Cover Art ©2013  by  Archie Comics Publications Inc.

A failure to communicate, the status quo?

Writers thoughtfully create blog, article, story, or perhaps finely-crafted  letters to be sent by old-fashioned snail mail. Write on, business as usual, you say—the content is included, but what about the intended message? Has there been a failure to communicate?  Let’s ask the right questions.  Was the intent clear? Was it interesting?   Will the message grab the attention of the recipient immediately?  Will your document be fired into the waste-basket when received,  dealt a mortal blow with the ‘delete’ button on the inbox?Surprisingly,  the failure to communicate occurs before you lick the stamp or press the ‘send’ button. A failure to communicate is not a laughing matter, even for a comic book.

Comic Relief

Let us drink coffee, scratch the dog’s ears and contemplate while we read a comic book and perhaps pilfer some ideas about what’s really important in communication.

Unlike the lackadaisical and long-popular comic book character Archie, we are required to think.   (As a minor distraction and aside, for comic aficionados,  the first  comic book Archie Issue #1 was introduced back in 1942 and is worth big bucks!) No matter. 

We have long believed that to communicate successfully, writing skills and instinct must be honed far beyond common facts, comic relief or the scholastic rigidity of Miss Grundy’s English grammar class.  Did we snooze or pay attention? No matter. 

Remember daydreaming in class and being startled by scratchy fingernails on chalkboards or a ruler rapped smartly across the desk?  Real attention-getters, weren’t they?   Interestingly, those actions demonstrate an effective form of communication.  Have you ever failed to communicate?   How do you communicate? Which unique tools are the most effective? Attention-getters. Let’s keep that one in mind.  

 

The Problem:  A failure to Communicate

How do you— a stressed, busy writer, avoid bland, mediocre, and the ultimate nightmare, a failure to communicate  with your readership, a simple failure to gain traction, garner attention for that blog, commentary or magazine article?  How about that potential, but inexplicably-uninspiring Great-American novel collecting dust on the shelf?  

The same principles apply.   Hook, story line and content of any kind, to be effective, must grab attention and engage the reader.  In reality, an overdose of formulaic gush will be sloughed over by bored readers paying only lip service.  Bored readers paying only lip service, worth repeating. 

Okay,  it’s a given that exciting content is important  and necessary, so how do we ensure an interested, engaged readership? That is the big question. “Class?”asks Mrs.Grundy.

“What question?” “Communication.” “I dunno” “Engaged readership, what’s that?” “You tell us, you’re the teacher.”  “Oh no,  —homework!?” “Not on Friday, please!”

It’s about communication! Ask Jughead  Miss Grundy suggests, dryly,  tongue-in-cheek, raking her nails down the blackboard to further awaken and torture the half-asleep zombies, just in time for lunch.

 “No?  C'mon, anyone?Examples of a  failure to communicate?  ” Silence. Twitter (no commercial reference intended). More silence and yawns.

 “—You—you there in the backask the others about the failure to communicate —while you’re at lunch, —come back with answers, and no food fights, or it will be detentions  in Mr.Weatherbee’s office for you— class dismissed!” She says, primping her hair.

  

 The Discussion

Why bother communicating, let’s eat.” Jughead replies with a deadpan face in the cafeteria.  He adjusts his pointy  king-hat to a jaunty angle and slathers mustard, relish and onions on his hamburger. Laughter. 

“Tell us, O’ Juggy, Juggy, Juggy! ” the chant grows. ‘Our man Juggy has the answer!” Laughter.  Jughead looks around in a daze, smiles,  shrugs and takes a huge bite.  The failure to acknowledge the importance of an issue and it’s logical solution usually suggests disinterest,  and yes, a failure to communicate.

 Fair enough, a hamburger or any food is a reasonable distraction for starving teens, Jughead included—no doubt also keeping him in character.

 “Failure to communicate?” asks Betty nonchalantly. “I know, I know, real failure would be cancelling our party Friday night” She adds, finally, daydreaming.  

“Umm….er…I’ll be communicating with you, Betty,” says Archie, grinning, “If Pops will let me have the jalopy, I’ll pick you up at eight.”

“Not if I get there first” Reggie retorts.

“Failure?...Betty, you and Archie might think it’s fine to fail, but I can’t  fail anything, party or not, Daddy would disinherit me!” Veronica says,  objecting, rolling her eyes, her voice dropping to a whisper as she picks green peas out of her salad. “To Daddy, even the thought of a Lodge failing at anything is outrageous!”

Observations

Oversimplified observations of timeless comic book characters suggest Jughead is an pragmatic student with a less than stellar interest in academia; he appears to neither incite or  encourage any requirement to communicate. To the casual observer Jughead is the class clown and simply ignores the topic.  Practical Betty simply references the problem to her immediate short-term agenda, and Archie and Reggie clearly have more pressing weekend plans involving hormones.  Veronica is more concerned with social status than communication. On the surface, the social-status-aware statement from Veronica may appear to be the only logical answer.  For effective writing, even a hypothetical failure  is not an option.  Who could argue?

Analysis 

The simplified stereotype of Jughead still lives after decades, although overworked political correctness may be injected… comic laughter aside, let’s look again. Are we communicating?   The simple problem posed is the contemporary failure to communicate, a failure to gain interest. The failure to awaken minds and zombies alike and  connect, inject variety, and life into words, connect with the reader and generate a unique, even startling point of view.  

Solutions

 The solutions can be surprisingly simple.  How about ensuring your content has flavour, bite, the element of surprise?  Jughead knows every good hamburger is better with the sudden bite of mustard —and by simple deduction knows that without,  the bite is bland, less flavourful, and less powerful.   In fact, our hero Juggie, complete with deadpan face, pointy king hat at a jaunty angle—pouring on the mustard, automatically —and by default, has discovered the power of communicating with taste buds.  Food for thought, pun intended. Miss Grundy will be pleased.

 Is that Incoming I hear?

  tags: #communication,   #writingLife,  #comics #Archie,  #Jughead,   #ArchieDoubleDigest, #comic books   +Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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