Agents of Ourselves: Part Four

Author’s Note: This is the next installment in my series on agency. The first is here. The second is here. The third is here. The purpose of the series is to help us understand — just as we can’t love others without first loving ourselves, just as our happiness is our responsibility, not the responsibility of others — once we perceive the world in the context of our own power, we won’t be subject to those who seek to take that power from us.

In 2015, when I published The One and Only Ben, I sat on the Board of Directors of Literacy Volunteers Valley Shore (LVVS) in Westbrook, Connecticut. In the fall of that year, we scheduled a fundraising event at the Ivoryton Playhouse — a benefit performance of The Little House of Horrors.

Because Anne is so much brighter than I am, she suggested I do a reading of The One and Only Ben that evening and give signed copies to all those who attended the event. Her reasoning for the suggestion? “Because LVVS helps people escape the jungle of illiteracy.” (This image is a poster my company created for the event.)

No wonder I married that kid.

I should have seen what Anne saw because writing was the means by which I’d escaped my own jungle of insecurity, self-doubt, and directionlessness. It was the means by which I’d found my voice. It was the medium in which I’d found my agency. Though I’d known I was a writer since the age of 10, it took me a long time to find the courage of that conviction and to make my way in the world by writing.

To help others find their voices, I created a writing workshop called, Finding Your Voice. Not surprisingly, it was inspired by this, which is one of Anne’s paintings. (In case you weren’t sure where the talent in this family lies, there you have it.) It’s intended, of course, to be conducted in person. But with the COVID restrictions we’ve come to know and love, that’s not possible right now. Due to the magic of Internet technology, however, we can still conduct the workshop, face to face, or at least screen to screen. And that leads me to a suggestion and an offer:

Given the success of the most recent Salon 360˚ session (January 28, 2021), I’d like to invite five of the attendees from that session who might be interested in participating in Finding Your Voice to engage in the workshop at no charge, first come, first served. If you attended that session and would like to participate in the workshop, please send me an email.

If there’s interest from more than five people, we’ll do it again with the next five.

I want to do this out of respect for every individual, out of my belief that if each of us reveres our individual sovereignty and our singular agency, we’ll no longer need group identities or be susceptible to identity politics. If each of us recognizes our voice is like no other, we’ll be able to blend our voices in harmony, rather than engaging in the rancorous dissonance to which politics and the media have reduced us. We can do better. We are better.

Effective writing is about style and voice. Style and voice are aspects of agency.

I look forward to working with you to help you find all three.


Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brien
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

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