Brenda Edwards



Time flies. I don’t know how it happened, but here I am walking head-on into my 7th decade on the planet. I’ve been here a long time, and I’ve done a lot of things to survive, but one undeniable fact is, I’ve always been an artist. I just can’t help myself and I haven’t always been happy about that. I’ve often thought that life would have been so much simpler if I wasn’t “artistic”.  For instance, I probably could have held onto that good paying corporate job a long time ago, had I not been so Hell bent on writing satirical copy for the corporate world. They only wanted corporate speak, but I was a playwright, and thought I should revolutionize communication by adding a little humor and drama into corporate messaging. Although I wrote internal copy for the product marketing group which was edited, my demise was in the fact that I wrote random unfiltered product communications that I had started writing prior to coming into the position. It’s a long story, but it’s how I got in the position – because I did that so well. Life is filled with irony. In the end, it didn’t matter to upper management that I was a lowly product marketing copywriter that got a lot of fan mail. The CEO even sent me a piece of fan mail, and looking back, I’m sure that really annoyed a few people. Fighting the good fight, I tried, pointlessly, to explain to my “superiors” that their workforce was bored senseless with the way they were fed information (and they WERE) and at least when they got an email from me they took a break from playing computer games and actually read it. My readers were living vicariously through me and loved watching me dangle on the corporate ledge just one wrong phrase away from total destruction. And I have to say, daredevil corporate writing was thrilling. It really was. It was more dramatic than playwrighting.

I lasted much longer than my detractors wanted. By the time they let me loose, I was the first person anyone called when they wanted to present a product to the sales force which irked the people that should have been called. Looking back, I know I was out of my mind in trying to bring entertainment, or even reason, to the corporate world – but I was corporate bored, 15 years younger and I just wanted to take one last long hard shot at authority I guess. In the end, they didn’t fire me for the copy, but they did find a way to lay me off. I’ll just leave it at this… authority always wins.

Since then I’ve avoided large corporations, although I did end up in a huge one a while back when a very pleasant, small company I was working for was sold. We went from 50 happy employees to 50,000 miserable ones in one ultimately failed merger. And here’s a shock – that corporation and I, we didn’t get along either.

Lately it seems I’ve just been avoiding steady employers altogether. I’ve been a working girl since I was 15 years old and lied about my age to get a waitressing job. The restaurant owner was the first in a long line of occupational challenges. He used to stand in the kitchen and scream, “I have the stupidest girls in the world working for me!” He died young. I had nothing to do with it.

You always work for someone even if you work for yourself. There’s no way around that. In the past 3 years I have sold 32 paintings, which has by no means made me a good living, but it has been some of the most gratifying work I have ever done for the best employers I’ve ever had – those that appreciate my work. And on my 60th birthday, I just want to take a moment to thank everyone who has ever purchased my work, as well as anyone who has encouraged the work. You have kept me painting. You have inspired me and kept me out of Corporate America. I thank you, and Corporate America thanks you too.

Note: The artwork included in this post is a set piece I painted for a play that I wrote in 1989 called “The Artist”. It now hangs in my studio along with 5 other paintings created for the play.