Of Sales Reports, Creativity, “Bullsh*t Artists” and the Secret Meaning of Fonts

I’m going to be upfront with you, guys: I love writing sales reports. Always have, even back when I worked as a Store Manager for CVSStress/Pharmacy. You remember those days, don’t you? Back when I walked around with a pager clipped to my belt in one of my many, collarless button downs, a trenchcoat hanging from my shoulders, a fedora perched upon my head and a cigarette hanging out of the corner of my mouth.

You don’t? Okay. Well maybe a few of you do but the rest of you? Sorry. I sometimes loose sight of the fact that this whole blogging-thing is a relatively new platform for me. Back then, the majority of my writing was done on my old, 286 HP with the monochrome screen, or in one of the myriad journals that I carried with me. The only people that ever read it were my closest friends and compadres. Now, though? What was once  scribbled or typed in private has gone public. I’m still not entirely sure if that’s a good thing. At least I discriminate. I don’t just put anything out here. Some things, I keep to myself. Others? Well, y’know.

I digress. Those of you who know me and have been following me and my ramblings for a while now know that my jobs haven’t always been geared toward my strengths, i.e. creativity, imagination, writing and algebra. Yes, algebra. Don’t ask me how that made it onto the list. I was always the math-a-phobic English Major until I took a GE algebra requirement class for my still-developing Masters in Education (and by “still-developing,” I mean “likely never going to happen”). Apparently, I had a skill I never new existed as evidenced by my A+ in that class.

Admittedly? That was three or four years ago. Pre-children. Now? Who knows. Someone do me a solid: Post an algebra problem in the “comments” section of this blog entry and I’ll try to answer it. If I get it right I’m allowed to boast of my algebraic prowess in future blog entries. If I get it wrong? You get to determine my punishment. Nothing involving spiders, though. I hate spiders. But I love writing sales reports which is what this blog entry is supposed to be about! Stop distracting… well, me. I’m distracting myself. And I’m sounding more schizophrenic than ever.

Oh f*ck. I went cross-eyed, again.

Back to the topic of this blog entry: Sales reports. Why do I love writing sales reports? Simple, really. Writing. It’s one of the rare times that I actually get to use one of my strengths in my oft times mundane, routine existence on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence. Blog entries? They don’t really count, even the ones that I dilly and dally with during my “down” time. They’re not invariably linked to my current “career,” nor were their predecessors, “Mental Flatulence.” Books like ENDWORLD – A Novel? Again, I generally don’t touch them during working hours. I generally wait to work on them until post-9 PM when the girls are in bed (though not necessarily asleep). But sales reports? They are linked to my daily existence. And when it comes to writing them, I have now and always have had what amounts to my own, personal system. I should warn you, Sales Report Nazis (if any of you exist): It’s not exactly what they taught you in Management 101.

Consider that generally, a basic sales report has three main components: Sales Successes, Sales Challenges and Sales/Marketing Plans, i.e. what you are going to do to conquer your Sales Challenges. Most people write each section like a school taught outline (“I” followed by an indent and “A” followed by another indent and “1,” et cetera, et cetera). Not me. I write each section the same way I used to write essays in high school and college: Free form. And loaded with embellishments and numbers. I thrive on the former. The more descriptors I throw in the better. They don’t call English Majors, or former English Majors turned nonviable Education Masters “bullsh*t artists” for nothing.

Por ejemplo, the one that I just wrote today. Let’s just say that the business that my company is doing with this company in 2013 isn’t exactly stellar. But despite what the hard numbers say, I never once let on in my report that my company was under performing  Sure, I cited factual examples of where we weren’t meeting our numbers in the “Challenges” section, but I followed those statements of fact up with embellishments that would fit perfectly into the pages of CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD (not exactly a ringing endorsement for a forthcoming Science Fictional novel, is it?). To paraphrase: “Sure our sales of BLANK are down BLANK PERCENT from this time last year, but our sales of BLANK of BLANK are up BLANK PERCENT, which only shows a net loss of BLANK total as opposed to BLANK PERCENT.”

Confused? Don’t be. Just think of it as an algebra problem: A < B, but C > B > A. What is C? C = BLANK, alias a very high percentage that in no way, shape or form  makes up for the fact that A is down almost BLANK PERCENT from this time, last year (but big numbers look damn fine on paper!). BTW, BLANK, in case you were wondering, is one of the best and most utilized tools of the self-proclaimed “bullsh*t artist.”

And in the Sales/Marketing section? I focused on what we were going to do to improve our performance, but made re-mention, numerous times of the Sales Successes I covered in the first section. I also threw in a subtle jab which, judging from the reaction I got from my co-workers was just subtle enough to get the point across. That point? That we’re not the only ones responsible for our sales being down BLANK PERCENT. You are, as well, and here’s why. Blah, blah, blah.

I hope you, my readers get my point. And if you don’t? DM me on Facebook or Twitter and I’ll send you a copy of the sales report (with all relevant names and numbers removed and replaced with the word “BLANK”). Or email me. I’ll do the same. The bottom line? For me in my of times mundane, routine existence sales reports = Creativity. Not necessarily untapped creativity. It’s not like writing a novel. But I like to keep even the driest of dry compositions interesting. That’s why I change my font to match how I feel about the sales report I’m writing.

Don’t believe me? Again, DM me or email me and I’ll send you a censored copy. Fonts are a misunderstood resource, IMO. Microsoft Word (and too a lesser extent other word processing programs) have given us a wealth of fonts to choose from–everything from Palatino Linotype which I write all my novels and short stories in unless otherwise advised to, and Comic Sans which I only use when I want to non-verbally spit on you or the topic I am writing about. I bet you can’t guess which font I used in my aforementioned sales report? Survey says?

BLANK. Oh come on. You can’t tell me you didn’t see that coming. All I’ll tell you is that it was neither Palatino or Comic. It was… well? It was BLANK. End story.

Fonts = A form of non-verbal expression for writers. They’re a way of showing our readers our mood or, in many cases, the mood and/or tone of our book, short story, poem, essay et al. I wrote ENDWORLD – A Novel primarily in Palatino, but when it came time to type the title page, the copyright page, the dedication, the table of contents and the Part and Chapter headings? Bank Gothic, baby. If you’ve never seen it, check it out. It’s very Dystopic looking. Sadly, Bank Gothic didn’t look very good in print and my designer and I opted for Arial Narrow instead which, IMO, does translate well to print. But I leave that for those of you that purchased a print copy of ENDWORLD – A Novel to decide.

Here are some examples of Word (’cause that’s the one I know the best) fonts (excluding the ones already mentioned above) and what they signify, in alphabetical order:

  • Arial: The font most businesses use, it signifies something made for the BLANKS by the BLANKS (a BLANK is, of course, a temporarily banned word in my subjective reality that begins with a “sh,” ends with a “ds” and has a “*thea” in the middle). Variations used by less normal but still boring BLANKS like myself include Arial Alternative, Arial Black and for the really audacious, Arial Unicode MS. Arial Unicode MS? I’m not worthy! I’m not worthy! Moving on…
  • Calibri (Body): The default font in Microsoft Word, it signifies… well, nothing, really. It’s boring. It’s a default for Chrissakes. Anyone who uses Calibri (Body) extensively has absolutely no imagination or creativity whatsoever. A writer that writes in Calibri (Body) is likely writing stereo instructions, or a “How To” manual for installing a dimmer switch. At least pick something with some character. Something like…
  • Commercial Script BT: One of the most unintelligible fonts available via Word, the only writers that use it are the ones that truly believe their superpower is to read illegible print and anyone else that can’t shouldn’t buy their book or read their blog. Not only fonts like Commercial Script, but handwriting like mine and the notes that doctors jot down on prescriptions.
  • Courier New: The font preferred by writers like myself that did the majority of their earliest writing on a 286 HP with a monochrome screen in the non-Windows compatible Wordperfect. Significance?  Traditional values. Anyone else grow up with that experience? I swear to this day I still remember the keystroke macro to bring up the “File” dialogue box. See also Courier WP.
  • Georgia: Admittedly, if I had to pick one font to write in for the rest of my natural life on this side of the proverbial wormhole of existence, it would be Georgia. Why? I have absotively, posolutely no f*cking idea. I just like the look of it. It’s like a cross between Arial and Times New Roman, but with a little additional flair thrown in. For me, Georgia = Most of my basic, everyday writing. These blog entries? Georgia. I think it’s one of the main reasons why I chose this theme.
  • Impact: In yo’ face! ‘Nuff said. A writer writing in Impact is non-verbally smacking you upside your silly head. It is equivalent to using all caps in an email or a blog entry.
  • Old English Text MT: Arguably as unintelligible and illegible as Commercial Script or Kunstler Script, Old English Text MT is a good font to use when you’re writing Epic Fantasy, or Historical Fiction set in… well? Old English times. Writers who use it believe that they appear well read to their readers. Most readers that encounter it generally believe that the writer that utilized it is a bit pretentious, or is intentionally ripping off Tolkein.
  • STENCIL (purposefully in caps because with STENCIL, all you get is caps): “In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire… The A-Team.” STENCIL will forever in my mind be associated with the A-Team. It’s arguably the most overused title page font in the genre that I primarily write fiction in (Sci-Fi Adventure), which is why I won’t go near it. That’s not to say that STENCIL = Poor quality. It doesn’t. But it’s implications are pretty obvious. If I see a title font in STENCIL I know I’m about to read a book that has a high-tech military fighting either aliens or… well, aliens.

And there you have it: A basic list of some of the fonts I have encountered in my life and what a writer who uses them is, IMO, trying to convey to his or her readers. Am I right? Wrong? I leave that for the other writers reading this blog entry to decide. My opinions are, of course, my own. But if you ever encounter something that I wrote, typed in Comic Sans font? Well. Now you know how I really felt about it.

On that note, I believe that it is time for me to bring my non-verbal, dilly dallying to a close for the day. In summation? I turned in my sales report and eagerly await a response from BLANK about it. Good? Bad? “Meh?” As I mentioned previously, sales reports aren’t exactly well-springs of creativity. Most of them are written like an outline. But those of you that know me… that have known me since I was a pager carrying, trenchcoat wearing, Mandarin collar sporting fedora’d BLANK that begins with a “sh,” ends with a “d” and has a “*thea” in between know that at my core? I’m not a Store Manager. Nor am I even an Office Manager though I masquerade as one daily in my oft times mundane, routine existence. What am I? Nothing more than a “bullsh*t artist” who occasionally shows off his algebraic prowess.

Oh! And I hate spiders, too. If A = Spiders, and B = Me, then A + B = C. And C? C = A grown man who has been known to SCREAM LIKE A BANSHEE WHEN HE FINDS ONE ON HIM. See? Caps = IMPACT. In yo’ face, guys. In. Yo’. Face. 

🙂

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5 thoughts on “Of Sales Reports, Creativity, “Bullsh*t Artists” and the Secret Meaning of Fonts

  1. This is great. I’ve often thought that we are headed in a direction where fonts will take over more and more meaning in books, beyond the Italicized.

    • I’m sure if I dig deep enough I can find more, Ginny. Like Wingdings. I never understood Wingdings. The only people that use Wingdings are sociopaths. Really. There’s no sense to them whatsoever (or there is and I’m just not seeing it).

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