Thursday’s Children 1/24/13

A weekly blog hop where writers share their inspirations. Please join us!

A weekly blog hop where writers share their inspiration. Please join us!

Inspired by china.

I’ve been to China, and there’s plenty there to inspire any writer. But this week I’m talking about porcelain.

The first, and to date only, paid writing job I’ve had was as a marketing copy writer for a retailer of kitchen and dining products.

I worked my way up through the ranks, starting as a CSR, then moving to the advertising department as an Assistant to the Director. When the Copy Writer position was posted, I was anxious about applying. It was the first time I’d shared any of my writing since college. But the previous copy writer was pretty terrible at it, which helped.

Once I got the job it didn’t take me long to realize that marketing is story-telling.

My MC might be a spatula that cost a buck twenty-nine. Or a five piece place setting of Gorham sterling silver that cost hundreds. The MC might be a grandmotherly type, let’s say a crockpot. Or a stylish, sophisticated Italian (espresso machine).

To sell the product required more than telling the consumer about wattage, warranties, and whether or not the item was dishwasher-safe. The consumer had to be romanced – made to feel that her life was incomplete without that product, or that her life would be immeasurably better with it. That she wanted to be the kind of person who owned Villeroy & Boch dinnerware or Calphalon cookware. I say “she” because the majority of our customers were women, somewhere between twenty-five and fifty-five: brides-to-be, stay at home moms, career women, empty nesters.

As with nearly every kind of story, sensory detail invites the reader in and provides her with a rich experience. So, I talked about the visual – Β for example, the ancient Chinese love story behind the Blue Willow china pattern. The auditory – the shrill whistle of a tea kettle signaling the tea-lover it was time to pour. The olfactory – comparing the aroma of baking bread to a hug. Touch – the satisfying weight of a Waterford lead crystal goblet. And of course, taste – imagine the shrimp scampi to be savored, once our handy shrimp deveiner had gotten rid of that unappetizing digestive tract.

Wedgwood Blue Willow

Wedgwood Blue Willow

I truly loved my work. It was the first time I felt any sense of creative fulfillment at a job. Part of it was because I love tableware and my art background allowed me to appreciate the aesthetics and the design history behind the items I handled every day.

But more than that, I discovered my love of telling stories.Β 

It was a horrible shock to discover that the company had filed Chapter 11 while I was away…in China.

ChinaMap

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12 thoughts on “Thursday’s Children 1/24/13

  1. Ha… I’d love to see those brochures, lol.

    Funny how figuring out what’s special about a product can be just like a character workshop. Sometimes there’s already a rich history there, and all you need to do as a writer is bring that to life. Other times there’s nothing, and you have to embellish and stretch the senses.

    I once wrote a creative strategy for Parmesan cheese that included Roman soldiers and Casanova. So go figure.

  2. I love tableware, too. My dinner service is Villeroy and Boch. (It used to Casa Azul but too many pieces got broken, and now it’s discontinued and too expensive to replace. Now it’s French Garden. I would love to own an original Willow pattern set, this pattern reminds me of growing up in England. If I didn’t want to write I’ve always imagined I would have loved to make ceramics.

    • I think there are quite a few of us in the “china closet”. Okay, that was really, really bad… In fact, I wrote about both Casa Azul and French Garden (I believe croissants were secondary characters in the latter’s story). My grandmother had a Willow Blue set, probably early 20th century though, not original.

  3. Ah, sugaropal and Rhiann are one and the same!
    I love how you created characters from the china in such detail. Marketing is story telling. So true. Thank you for helping me out of my query tizzy the other day on twitter. I’m signing up for the Blog hop. Now if I understand, the hop begins every Wednesday thru Friday morning? correct? I’ll try linking the linky, first. It’s one step at a time for me. Lol! Thanks, again. Now to find inspiration. πŸ™‚

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