Emily Dickinson: In a Library.

book store with antique books

My daughter gave me a book of poems of Emily Dickinson. This morning I decided to read one. It just so happens that it was a good one for other writers.

In a Library. 

A PRECIOUS, mouldering pleasure ‘t is

To meet an antique book,

In just the dress his century wore;

A privilege, I think,

His venerable hand to take,

And warming in our own,

A passage back, or two, to make

To times when he was young.

His quaint opinions to inspect,

His knowledge to unfold

On what concerns our mutual mind,

The literature of old;

What interested scholors most,

What competitions ran

When Plato was a certainty,

And Sophocles a man;

When Sappho was a living girl,

And Beatrice wore

The gown that Dante deified.

Facts, centuries before,

He traverses familiar,

As one should come to town

And tell you all your dreams were true:

He lived where dreams were sown.

His presence is enchantment,

You beg him not to go;

Old volumes shake their vellum heads

And tantalize, just so.

The truth is I don’t spend any time in a library anymore. If I do, it’s to go to the kid’s section. When I read her description, I picture the library at Hogwarts, frankly, which is a far cry from any library I have had the pleasure of frequenting.

I have to wonder if libraries like this even exist in the real world anymore. They do, of course, but they are likely to be private. The public library in New York is pretty nice, I guess. On the Sex and the City Movie (the first one, otherwise known as the “good” one), Carrie Bradshaw loved the library, described the smell of the books, and even scheduled her ill-fated nuptials there. From what I saw of the library in the movie, it looked more like what Dickinson described.

Now that I think about it, Dickinson likely was talking about a private library anyway. In her time, public libraries were likely few and far between. I’m not a historian and am even too lazy to look it up on Google, but my gut tells me her description was of a wealthy friend or colleague’s private collection.

However, the idea of charming libraries isn’t what spoke to me in this poem. What drew me to the poem was the idea she traveled to the time of the authors she mentions as she read. In that way, I relate. Stephen King in his book “On Writing” talks about the way we can communicate through time and space with our writing. I couldn’t agree more;  this communication is one of the many reasons I love to read and to write.

As writers, it is our duty to transcend the now and reach forward to tell our stories to the future audience. What is on your screen today could grace the pages (or tablet screens) of your audience in the future. Ask yourself what you want to say to those readers. What is the picture you wish to paint for our time today, or the time of which you are writing? We paint these images with our words as only we can, with our unique perspective and interpretation. These images are our responsibility as artists.

We have a responsibility as writers to recreate the images of our time with our words, to transcend time and space with our readers.

We have a responsibility as writers to recreate the images of our time with our words, to transcend time and space with our readers.

May you communicate through time and space today with your audience, who may or may not be walking the Earth as we speak.

Kurt Vonnegut Proves Writing is Formulaic

Bildung

I always knew there was a secret to writing. Who knew it was as simple as this?

Kurt Vonnegut Graphs the Plot of Every Story

Huffington Post’s: 10 Rules for Aspiring Women Writers

Found this on my Facebook feed (thanks Missy Cretcher) and knew I had to post this. It addresses women writers in the headline, but I think these concepts apply no matter which door you choose at the public restroom.

n-FEMALE-WRITER-large570

10 Rules for Aspiring Women Writers

Print it out and keep it where you can see it everyday. And keep up the good work!

Typos Count: Catching the Errors Before You Hit Send

     Peeface

Poor, poor Peeface…

It used to be, back in the day, that Typos were a problem for writers, printed publications, and secretaries. Nowadays, in the world of social media and email, Typos are everyone’s problem.

Everything you write is about communication. When you make a thoughtless mistake, it’s distracting from what you wrote. Typos take the reader out of the experience and force them to judge you. To avoid this, you must proof—and preferably before anyone else reads it.

Art and Lit

Well, at least there aren’t many words in paintings.

A while ago, I confessed that I have a long and tortuous relationship with Typos. I implored others to help me with their tips on how to catch Typos. My readers did not disappoint. I found out some great stuff.

So in the spirit of sharing and keeping emails, resumes, business writing, and cat video explanations error-free, here are additional ways to proof better BEFORE you hit send:

Matthew Steele, this is IT:

“Another way to catch typos is to save your article in PDF format and then open it in Adobe Reader (free) and go to View > Read Out Loud > Activate Read Out Loud, then click where you want it to start reading. It’s a monotone voice, but if you can put up with it, hearing it read to you while you read is a real help.”

Monique Huenergardt, Freelance Author’s Editor, Copy Editor, and Proofreader:

“Change the font style and size, and then reread it. The “preview” function in Blogger serves the same purpose; I almost always catch errors I didn’t see in the draft.”

Writu Tandon, Business Operations Specialist Advance with State of New Mexico:

“In my case, a ‘second pair of eyes’ saves me. Whenever possible, I show my work to my coworker or a friend. Otherwise, I email it to myself, and for some unknown reason, when I receive it in my inbox, I read it more objectively and am able to find ‘most’ typos.”

John Wurtenberger, President and Business Development Engineer at WURTEK:

“One thing my mom taught me when I was a kid was to read my writing backward, word for word. This gives the eyes and brain a different perspective, allowing some misspellings and typos to jump out that we would normally miss.”

If you want a refresher in how I proof, you can hear my radio interview on proofing resumes here.

Inland Empire

So THAT’s why real estate is so much cheaper in the Inland Empire!

It’s not easy to proof your own stuff. One need only read over my past posts, to know that typos are alarmingly pervasive in today’s quick to publish genres. I would argue, however that learning from someone like me has distinct advantages, not the least of which is that I am just an ordinary sinner when it comes to proofing. Asking for proofing advice from someone who is perfect at proofing is like asking a cat how to make a video that is both cute and viral. They don’t know…so they can’t tell you. Plus in this case, cats can’t talk, which just creates more obstacles to knowledge.

Home Run Hitler

Um…Thanks, guys?

I know firsthand that this is true. When I was in college, I decided to be a music minor. My parents were overjoyed, by the way. I guess they were so glad that I had something to fall back on in case my Theatre Major didn’t pan out for me.

As an illustrious Music minor, I had to take Music Theory (business school types: this is how you write actual music on a staff for instruments and voices and stuff). Part of the class that was particularly challenging to me was called ear training, a lab portion of the class where you listen to notes and have to write them down on the staff as played.

Amercia

To be honest, it took me longer than it should to see this one!

IF the idea of this class bewilders you, then you know exactly how I felt. A professor with perfect pitch, a rare gift where the possessor knows exactly the notes and key just by hearing them, taught my first semester. Needless to say, he wasn’t much help to my complete ineptitude. He was generous, however, as he gave me a C, although I sincerely doubt I earned it.

The next semester, however, the professor who taught this portion of class had also struggled with ear training. He was a far superior teacher, because he had to teach himself. He knew how to talk to the clueless, like me, because he had also been clueless at one time.

Human Sauce

Is number 6 gluten-free?

Because of the ear training course, I am living proof that an absolute idiot can get better at almost anything. So no matter how abysmal you are at proofing your own emails (posts, marketing copy, resumes, novels, letters to your mom), you can improve. To start the process of improvement, however, you have to take the first step.

Shoplifters

Seems a little extreme…

I challenge you to try one of these methods above and let me know what you discover in what you thought was otherwise a perfectly acceptable email. Only this time, you will see the blunder before you hit send.

For many more hilarious Typo Memes, see “30 of the Funniest Typos of All Time” at weknowmems.com.

Terri Lively is a career marketing professional that has unique experience in the areas of messaging and client relations. Terri helps her clients break through the clutter by injecting a bit of humor into the business world. For the past 15 years, she helps her clients create marketing materials that effectively communicate their message and get results, across all types of media. More about Terri can be discovered at www.terrilively.com.

A Playlist to Celebrate the Joys of Cold Calling

Tired businesswomanCold calling stinks…but it works. Ask any seasoned sales professional and they’ll back me on this.

I spent my entire career trying to prove cold calling, or prospecting, didn’t work, convinced each day that I took on this distasteful activity I was wasting my time. Some days it amounted to nothing. On those days I felt vindicated for thinking my sales manager was a real tool for making me do it.

The other days, however, when I landed the big accounts as a result of my cold calling, I learned the bittersweet truth that cold calling stinks, but it works.

I Googled sales songs. There are plenty of playlists to get you pumped up at a sales meeting and plenty to help you go get ‘em at the Trade Show. I noticed, however, that there is a real void as it pertains to playlists to pick you up after enduring repeated and sometimes hateful rejection while cold calling.

Consider this void filled. Here is a 30-minute playlist with not a single song from this century that can take you from depressed to deliriously optimistic after suffering the indignities of cold calling.

We’re Not Gonna Take It:

Been dismissed by rude gatekeepers, hung up on, sworn at, and escorted from the building? We’re Not Gonna Take It will restore your self-esteem. Bonus points for anybody who turns around and shakes his or her fist at security singing the chorus like Dee Snider in the video.

I mean cold calling can really make for a tough day:

Okay, maybe not that tough. Yeesh.

Mr. Blue Sky:

Constant rejection can create a negative attitude in the most positive sales professional. This song is the perfect antidote for what Tony Robbins calls Stinkin’ Thinkin.’ Mr. Blue Sky will cheer you up with its pure awesomeness. In fact, I assert that this song is almost as awesome as their hairstyles.

Man in Motion:

For a song that will make your braver, and stronger than a 1980s heartthrob in a mediocre Breakfast Club for twenty-somethings movie, look no further than Man In Motion from the St. Elmo’s Fire soundtrack. The movie was cheesy, and so is the song, I guess, but I always feel like I can sell ice to Eskimos after I listen to it. With lyrics like, “Just once in his life, a man has his time. And that time is now that I’m comin’ alive!”, be sure your windows are rolled up because you are bound to embarrass yourself otherwise singing along to it.

Proud Mary, Ike and Tina Turner:

Listen, cold calling is tough. Who can deny that Tina has survived a lot? She’s tough. Considering what she rose above, surely a few hang ups and door slams pale in comparison. Proud Mary empowers us all to take care of business while oozing fierce determination and confidence.

Author’s Note: My kids took a video of me dancing to this in my office while I was writing this post. They are still laughing about it. I don’t care because they don’t know how to post on Facebook yet!

The Gambler:

I don’t ordinarily cotton to country music, but nobody can deny that this hit by Kenny Rogers teaches us all about negotiation and the art of closing gracefully with the sage wisdom, “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” After all if you did happen to get the sale, you never count your commission while you are still sitting at the table in the new client’s office. There’ll be time enough for countin’ on your phone in the parking lot!

Eye of the Tiger:

If ever there was a song that could make you believe you had sales superpowers, it’s this one. Back in high school, I once listened to Eye of the Tiger 18 times in a row before a big swim race and then swam a full 3 seconds faster than I ever had. For those of you that didn’t ever swim competitively that’s a lot! But if you don’t believe me, believe him:

He pities the fool who doesn’t listen to the song after a hard day of cold calling.

La Copa De la Vide (Cup of Life):

I don’t know where you were in 1998 for the World Cup, but I was pounding out a living with a poorly rated radio station in Kansas City. My paycheck was 100% commission, and my client list was the yellow pages, which is a recipe for starvation if you don’t figure out how to prospect. For you millennial-types, the Yellow Pages was an actual paper book that listed businesses by their type with their landline phone numbers (No, really). This song made sure I didn’t starve. My cup of Ramen noodles runneth over thanks to Ricky Martin’s incredibly motivating song.

Ricky: Do you really want it?

Me: (thinking of dinner) Yeah!

Ricky: Do you really want it? Here we go. Go! Go! Go!

Me: Ale! Ale! Ale!

I took music appreciation in college. I don’t remember my professor’s name, but he said something that has stayed with me to this day:

Miss Ince, is it really necessary to arrive five minutes after class starts every day?”

Just kidding. He did say that, but that isn’t the one I was talking about just now. He said that music comes the closest to expressing the inexpressible. Now, of course, he was talking about classical music, not classic rock, but I think the concept applies either way.

So when you need to express your frustration with a rough cold calling day, then pick yourself up, dust off your Nine West pumps, pick up the scattered sales accouterment strewn across the pavement after getting tossed from yet another office building for “soliciting,” by some overzealous ex con, and play this playlist as loud as you can stand it—while you find another office park to conquer.

What songs would you add to the playlist? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.

 

Terri Lively is a career marketing professional that has unique experience in the areas of messaging and client relations. Terri helps her clients break through the clutter by injecting a bit of humor into the business world. For the past 15 years, she helps her clients create marketing materials that effectively communicate their message and get results, across all types of media. More about Terri can be discovered at www.terrilively.com.or email me at terri@terrilively.com.

Photo Credit: Kalim from Fotolia.com

Storytellers Restore Order

“They will rejoice. They will sing. In movie houses all over the world, in the eyes and hearts of my kids and other kids, mothers, fathers for generations to come, George Banks will be honored. George Banks will be redeemed. George Banks and all he stands for will be saved. Maybe not in real life, but in imagination.

“This is what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.”

 

— Walt Disney, from Saving Mr. Banks

by  Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith