1. Reggie and Me. 

Reggie and Me

2. A Room of One’s Own.  One of the daily prompts this week just made my heart go pitter patter: A genie has granted your wish to build your perfect space for reading and writing. What’s it like?

My apartment is so small that the idea of having a special space reserved for reading and writing is a fantasy on par with George Clooney feeding me peeled grapes at his Italian villa on Lake Como………………………………

Where was I?

Oh, yes. A writing space.

When I write I’m either on the computer at my dining room table. Sometimes, for a change of scenery, I walk three paces to my couch and write there. My perfect writing space would consist of a desk and a nice view. That’s it really. It doesn’t have to be a fancy desk like this:

fancy desk

Or this:

BIG desk

It could be a desk like this:

Ernest Hemingway's desk

Ernest Hemingway’s desk in Key West

Or this:

Virginia Woolf's Writing Desk via The Guardian

Virginia Woolf’s Writing Desk via The Guardian

Do you have a special place to read and write? What would be in your dream space?

To Sell Is Human3. Do you sell stuff? According to Daniel Pink’s new book, To Sell Is Human: the Surprising Truth about Moving Others, we’re all in sales, no matter what career path we’ve chosen. Whether you’re a graphic designer, a stay-at-home mom or a waiter, we’re all trying to persuade others to see our side of things or to get them to do something on our behalf.

I realize how true this is for writers, and how hard it is to make pitches. (Me! Me!) That’s why I’m a writer and not in sales, I often whine. But the fact is that I need to get more comfortable tooting my own horn, as it were, so I’ve read a lot of web advice about formulating a good pitch whether to a literary agent or a boardroom, but Daniel Pink’s strategies feel easier to follow because they don’t feel like “selling.”

Here are his six strategies for making a great pitch:

*The one-word pitch. Distill your ideas down to just one short word. Think: “Priceless” or “Search.” My one-word pitch to myself this year is “balance.”

*The question pitch. By asking a question, you invite others to come up with their own reasons for agreeing. (Note: this strategy only works if underlying arguments are strong.) For example: “Can you make a salad with 5 veggies tonight?” (As seen on a bus stop advertisement)

*The rhyming pitch. People embrace ideas more easily when they’re expressed in rhyme. “Thanks for pitching in to the right bin!” (A recycling sign in an airport)

*The subject-line pitch. We all want to have our emails read! Utility, curiosity, and specificity are keys to making subject lines more effective. “3 simple but proven ways to get your e-mail opened” or “Some weird things I just learned about e-mail.”

*Twitter pitch. Say it in 140 characters or less.

*The Pixar pitch. This is the one that taps in to my writerly sensibilities. Express your idea in the Pixar story sequence: “Once upon a time _____. Every day, _____. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.”

Are you comfortable making pitches? Have you used any of these strategies?

4. Happy Birthday, Elizabeth Bishop. I was only introduced to Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry recently by way of a friend who loves her work. Noted for “precise descriptions of the physical world and an air of poetic serenity,” she most often wrote about the struggle to find a sense of belonging. Her popularity seems to be on the rise, 30 years after her death. The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet was born today in 1911 in Worcester, Mass.

Here is an excerpt of her popular poem, “At the Fishhouses.” I love this poem because it is so strongly rooted in the location, in this case Nova Scotia where she spent a good deal of her youth.  My goodness, you can almost smell the fish.

At the Fishhouses

Although it is a cold evening,
down by one of the fishhouses
an old man sits netting,
his net, in the gloaming almost invisible,
a dark purple-brown,
and his shuttle worn and polished.
The air smells so strong of codfish
it makes one’s nose run and one’s eyes water.
The five fishhouses have steeply peaked roofs
and narrow, cleated gangplanks slant up
to storerooms in the gables
for the wheelbarrows to be pushed up and down on.
All is silver: the heavy surface of the sea,
swelling slowly as if considering spilling over,
is opaque, but the silver of the benches,
the lobster pots, and masts, scattered
among the wild jagged rocks,
is of an apparent translucence
like the small old buildings with an emerald moss
growing on their shoreward walls.
The big fish tubs are completely lined
with layers of beautiful herring scales
and the wheelbarrows are similarly plastered
with creamy iridescent coats of mail,
with small iridescent flies crawling on them.
Up on the little slope behind the houses,
set in the sparse bright sprinkle of grass,
is an ancient wooden capstan,
cracked, with two long bleached handles
and some melancholy stains, like dried blood,
where the ironwork has rusted.
The old man accepts a Lucky Strike.
He was a friend of my grandfather.
We talk of the decline in the population
and of codfish and herring
while he waits for a herring boat to come in.
There are sequins on his vest and on his thumb.
He has scraped the scales, the principal beauty,
from unnumbered fish with that black old knife,
the blade of which is almost worn away.

Read the full text here and listen to an audio clip of Ms. Bishop reading the poem.

Have you read any of Elizabeth Bishop’s poems? Which one is your favorite? 

5. Carpe Diem. Reggie and I were on his early morning walk and came across this note left after a brief snowfall. Sounds like good advice.

Carpe Diem

How will you carpe the diem?

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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