Day 1: Pitching

To pitch implies that someone will catch, don’t you think? So to pitch, from the very get-go, is itself a hopeful act.

And yet of course–as thousands of Hollywood wannabes could tell you–the hope of “pitch” almost always ends in despair, with the “not for us at the moment,” or “mmmm…we were thinking of going more with a JosswhedonjjabramsNOTYOU type” …

Or the plain “nope, hated it, don’t turn in your waitressing apron just yet, toots.”

To write a pitch for a piece of writing–to take alllll those words and boil them down to some kind of nugget–a nugget that someone will want to catch? Brutally hard.  You try it. Distill something you wrote into a sentence. Or take the sentence and boil it into three words.

I’ve embarked on the yeahwrite 31 Days to Build a Better Blog: at the end of July, this blog will be bionic, I swear, leaping tall buildings, ripping phone books in half with its bare hands; it’s going to be a lean, mean, blogging machine.

But first I need a pitch.

The tagline for this blog is “perpetually ambivalent New Yorker…now living in Abu Dhabi, UAE.”  I’m going to drop the UAE because let’s face it, no one really knows what the hell those letters stand for anyway, and everyone already thinks that Abu Dhabi is Dubai, so whatever.  I can’t drop “ambivalent” because that pretty much structures my entire psyche and while, yes okay, maybe I should work on that, July is about blogwork, not selfwork. So hands off my ambivalence.

But then we get to the whole “yeah, but what the hell is a mannahattamamma, anyway?”  No one wants to hear the story of finding the name for this blog, which involves long detours into Walt Whitman’s poetry (the opening lines from his beautiful poem “Mannahatta” were originally on the masthead of the blog), so that’s out. (Yes, originally I wanted Manhattanmamma, but someone had already bought the domain name, dammit.)

Okay, so I have sort of a tagline (perpetually ambivalent New Yorker … now living in Abu Dhabi) but I need that nugget-y bit.  Gist, pith, boiled-down essence,whatever you want to call it.

How about this:

Just after Arab Spring, a Manhattan mom left New York with her two young sons, her husband, several soccer balls, and eight thousand lego pieces in order to work as a literature professor in Abu Dhabi, on the edge of the Arabian Gulf.  As a New Yorker, Mannahattamamma chronicled the complications and comedy that emerged as she and her husband negotiated jobs, children, and New York’s public schools. In Abu Dhabi, Mannahattamamma still writes about family, politics,culture, and education, but her observations are filtered through the frequently absurdist lens of expat life in in a desert city where gold-plated cars and camels are equally common sights. Lawrence of Arabia it ain’t…but even so, life here still sometimes borders on epic.

That’s about 110 words. Might not be grabby enough, or funny enough. Might not be…enough enough.

What do you think? Comments in comments please? Be nice but be tough. And if your eyes have glazed over somewhere in the second paragraph…let me know (when you wake up).


 man at a festival a few months ago

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12 Responses to Day 1: Pitching

  1. Alexis July 2, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    I haven’t been to your blog since the redesign and all I can say is – AWESOME. Love it.

    As for the pitch, I thing it gives a lot of clarity (to be honest I’ve always been a bit fuzzy about the Arab connection). I also think it could be edited by half. I also am a fan of keeping things in the first person. I mean it’s cool to imagine we have a team of PR professionals who write about us FOR us but until that day comes, why not keep it from “I”?
    Alexis recently posted..Is Your Crib as Safe as You Think?My Profile

    • Deborah Quinn July 5, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

      So funny – yes, the pitch is in the third person, isn’t that weird? I sort of hadn’t even noticed it until you pointed it out. Will think about how to re-phrase… Thanks for stopping by!

  2. IASoupMama July 2, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    I love the phrase “the edge of the Arabian Gulf” because it so very much encapsulates both your physical and emotional location. There is a huge cultural gulf and I got that from the quoted phrase almost more strongly than from the direct comparison between NY and Abu Dhabi.

    I also love the everyday things that came with you — soccer balls, LEGOS, and all of life.

    And I adore the alliteration and rhythm of “chronicled the complications and comedy” — maybe something parallel for your Abu Dhabi part?

    I’ll be back, ‘cuz I’m an uber-fan of your so what.
    IASoupMama recently posted..7 Ways to Celebrate Turning 40My Profile

    • Deborah Quinn July 5, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

      Thanks… you know, it’s funny, right – you move to some exotic-sounding place and then…you’re still driving your kids to soccer practice (except now b/c of all the Europeans here, they call it “football”) and stepping on errant lego pieces. What is that saying? Wherever you go, there you are. bzackly.

  3. that cynking feeling July 3, 2013 at 12:03 am #

    I, too, like how you compare how you used to blog with what you are doing now. There are several great images in the pitch, too.
    You seem worried that it isn’t enough. Do you feel like you held back?
    that cynking feeling recently posted..Read ‘em and weepMy Profile

    • Deborah Quinn July 5, 2013 at 11:20 pm #

      Great question – no, I just wasn’t sure–as all of us have been saying–that I got across what I wanted to convey. Of course, if I were surer about what I wanted to convey, I would know what to say! Thanks for stopping by…

  4. Marcy July 3, 2013 at 12:16 am #

    I like your pitch, but I found myself wanting the opening to be more concise. I love the rest of it, especially the line with the gold-plated cars and camels–very vivid. I admit to not getting your blog name. Maybe put some of the poetry back in your header if that would make it more understandable? I love the design of your header, though, with the two different skylines. Very cool.
    Marcy recently posted..Top 5 Foods Squeamish People Would Not EatMy Profile

    • Deborah Quinn July 5, 2013 at 11:19 pm #

      The header design was commissioned by Erica & Q! They are incredibly talented – I love that header! Thanks for noticing.

  5. Christie July 3, 2013 at 5:16 am #

    I love it. Going to read Walt now.

    • Deborah Quinn July 4, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

      Hey you writer lady, would love to know what you thought about the “pitch,” which is far from pitch perfect, god knows. Yours totally rocked it.

  6. Christie July 5, 2013 at 12:14 am #

    So, I’ve been thinking about this pitch since I read it earlier this week. I love the juxtaposition between Manhattan and Abu D. It’s the pitch of a very smart, insightful, articulate woman with an advanced degree. And that’s exactly what I love about your blog and you. I love the L of Arabia reference because it confirms the picture in my head that appears when you mention the camel, cars, desert…. MY editing suggestion is that this sentence:

    Mannahattamamma still writes about family, politics,culture, and education, but her observations are filtered through the frequently absurdist lens of expat life in in a desert city where gold-plated cars and camels are equally common sights. Lawrence of Arabia it ain’t…but even so, life here still sometimes borders on epic.

    SHould be more like this:

    Mannahattamamma’s observations are filtered through the frequently absurdist lens….

    There’s just something about the part where you say “she writes about family….”– it’s too flat and doesn’t do your blog justice. Jump to the part of the expat and use the word “absurdist” sooner b/c it’s more punchy and more you.

    • Deborah Quinn July 5, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

      Nailed it. Yes, exactly. Thank you. Do you think I should keep the list of topics I write about, but just tucked in somewhere else? Or scrap the little list & go right to gold-plate & camels?

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