Patrick E. McLean : Just what it says on the tin.


Much to my surprise, I was born in 1972. A little over three years later, it was discovered that I had learned to read. My Mom read me Green Eggs and Ham. Then I read it right back to her. While the genres and subjects have changed, I haven’t stopped reading since.

For reasons not easily understood (or succinctly explained) I graduated college with a degree in Economics. Most of what I learned there about Economics was utter, blathering macroeconomic nonsense, but by the time I graduated, I had enough of a grip on the division of labor to say, “I should do what I’m best at and trade for everything else.”

Best at? It’s always been writing. I kicked down the door of the best agency in town and all but demanded an internship. They gave me one. That turned into a job. And the job, into a strange career. (In Advertising, is there any other kind?)

Writing and Fighting


At the same time, I started training in the martial arts. I don’t often write about it, but since the only two things I’ve done consistently and with a will in my life are writing and fighting, it bears some mention. Mostly, I refrain from writing about it because I find the experience of it and the things I’ve learned and strive to learn aren’t easily translated into words. But it’s a pretty important part of my life.

Over the years I’ve trained and held rank in several styles of Aikido and Jiujitsu. I’m currently an instructor of a wonderful thing called Systema. Why does a grown man engage in such pursuits? Here’s a testimonial I wrote for Systema Charlotte.

Systema is the most fun I’ve ever had doing martial arts. (some of the most fun I’ve had, period.)  The lack of rank, the camaraderie, the total martial-creative freedom, it’s all wonderful. But for me the biggest benefit of Systema training is health.

As a result of my training, I am healthier physically, psychologically and spiritually. I’m more patient. I get along with people better. Systema helps me be a better husband, a better father and a better friend.

As a result of my training, I am healthier physically, psychologically and spiritually. I’m more patient. I get along with people better. Systema helps me be a better husband, a better father and a better friend.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many people who apply the very practical aspects of Systema to their dangerous work — it’s great for that — but for me, being a better person for all the people who depend on me — that makes it worth it for me.
Learning to hit really hard is just gravy.


Adventures and Misadventures

In 1999 I went to Los Angeles, got shot and then got a really good job working on Red Bull Energy Drink Account at an Agency called Lunch. Getting shot was not part of the interview process, but it was certainly formative event. For a host of reasons, a number of them my fault, L.A. didn’t work for me, so I returned home to Charlotte. I had been hired by an agency that promptly (and spectacularly) went out of business. C’est la guerre.

I went out on my own and have never really looked back. Oh there were a couple of flings here and there with respectable day jobs, but they never stuck.

Late 2004 found me sinking into depression. I felt like I had talent, but none of it was getting used. I drank, played cards and otherwise squandered the coin of my youth. The work I did, I did well enough, but advertising and marketing seemed to be more and more pointless.

I was awoken by a noise in the middle of the night one night and I dashed out a short story, “The Vampire in My Attic.” And by January the whole thing had snowballed into a podcast called The Seanachai. I decided that, come hell or high water, I would write, record and produce a short story or essay every week for 2005. And I did. I got a great deal of exposure and won two Parsec awards. Along the way, I made a whole bunch of new friends. In short, I got myself unblocked.

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Still, it was a lot like the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I had this great thing going on the side, but the stuff I did for a living, still fairly uninspiring. Most of what I was doing was coming up with funny ideas for committees of nervous corporate types to kill. So I conducted the second great economic analysis of my life. What did I have that is or can be of value to other people?

good words (right order)

What I noticed was that people had trouble with writing simply and clearly. And I thought I might be able to help with that. I started digging into writing, the way it is taught and the implications that bad writing has for one’s careers. I came to some pretty firm and shocking conclusions. First, that where writing is still taught, it is taught very badly. Second, that grammar is a hot, unhelpful mess. Third, what ever grammatical or pedagogical axe someone might have to grind, the fact is, people learn through feedback loops and, with writing education, the feedback is very bad and the loop is very long.

All of this became a writing coaching business called good words (right order). I’ve done small group training and executive coaching for companies Amazon, Duke Energy, Palo Alto Networks and many individuals. If writing faster and better is of any interest to you, I’ve put some materials online.

Which Brings Us to Now.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.T.S. Eliot

I have never stopped writing. I help companies get clear about their messaging. I crank on creative work for agencies and design firms. And, I write novels. I am, generally, for hire. But thankfully, I’m pretty busy and pretty careful about who I work with. If it’s not a good fit, I don’t force it.

On the way to now, I managed to meet a girl, fall in love, get married and, much to my son’s surprise, start a family. That is, after all, the real story of my life. And the moral of that story is that I am, in every conceivable way, a very lucky man.

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