AWAI Writing Challenge Honorable Mention:
The Pen Is Mightier Than the Swordfish

We were 1309 miles away from the World Trade Center and yet … the bombings of 9/11 ruined my swanky little bistro.

After that dreadful day in September of 2001, people were afraid to fly. Tourism in New Orleans plummeted, the streets of the French Quarter were deserted, and on some evenings, the population of our dining room was zero.

Everything ground to a halt – except the bills.

I didn’t go into the restaurant business to go broke, so …

I thought and thought about how to replace the vanished tourists with local diners. We had no money. Newspaper advertising was out of the question.

The chef laughed at my first newsletter. It was a single typewritten page with a snowflake border. The waiters helped lick the stamps and hand-address the envelopes. The recipients were people whose business cards were scrounged out of the dark corners of desk drawers.

We waited … for 48 long hours … certain that the letter was a flop. Praying that something would come of it.

On the third day, a fellow walked through our door saying, “Hey, I got your letter.”

At that exact moment, a monster mega-watt light bulb came on in my head. It’s working, it’s working, I chortled to myself! In a split second I learned …

Words are powerful.

Yes, the chef’s exquisite cuisine had gotten write-ups in glossy, national magazines and had made our restaurant the toast of the town. But it was words – my words – that kept the customers coming back week after week from then on.

Words rescued my restaurant. Words can create an entirely new life for you.

Back then, I modeled my messages on everything from pre-paid funeral plan letters to tabloid newspapers. If it got my attention, I ‘borrowed’ it.

Back then, I had no idea that this kind of writing even had a name – much less a course of instruction

Back then, I didn’t know about American Writers & Artists Inc.

Was it sheer coincidence or good luck? I don’t know, but somehow I found AWAI and the rest is history.

Nowadays, I thank AWAI for the courage to seek clients in diverse industries. Marketing one small restaurant has given way to selling heavy marine equipment, home décor, yoga lessons, an SEO company, custom-made Mardi Gras masks, and yes … more restaurants.

No longer do I struggle to puzzle out the attraction of automobile ads or lurid Bat Boy books. Because of AWAI, I know how to push people’s hot buttons.

I’m no longer tied to the restaurant’s grueling schedule.

And guess what else? I make a heckuva lot more money!

If I can do it, you can too. You have nothing to lose. It’s fun, it’s easy, it makes sense … and it actually works!

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Published: August 13, 2009

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