Fill That Niche -- by Jane Kelley

Last summer, we were in Italy overdosing on art. Every plaza had an elaborate fountain. Every church was full of sculptures and mosaics. Walking from one miracle to another in Rome, we passed the Palazzo Barberini, which wasn’t even on our list. As we explored the grounds, we came upon an empty niche.

I have no idea what sculpture was intended for that plinth. The Barberini brothers were merchants who amassed enough wealth and power to have one of their relatives elected as pope. In 17th Century Rome, they were great patrons of the arts. Their palace is now a museum full of masterpieces by such artists as El Greco, Bernini, and Caravaggio.

But outside? A space cried out to be filled.
So I scrambled up and stood on the plinth.

I remembered the photo when we were asked to blog about niche marketing for our books. Knowing our books' niches is an important tool for getting them out in the world. It can also be helpful during the creative process.

I would never write to fill a niche in the way I climbed on the plinth. There's no guaranty that space would stay empty. But an awareness of how niches function can be very useful. In the art world, a niche focuses us on the object. Being mindful of theme can help keep our stories from wandering off.

A niche can also provide something to play against. I like this photo because it upends our expectations. The niche leads us to expect an antique statue made of cool marble. What a surprise to find a woman in rumpled khakis and old sneakers, doing her imitation of "art."


  1. I’m sorry, I don’t see a woman in rumpled khakis and old sneakers. I see my friend who has always had great ideas and a vibrant imagination! Enjoyed your post!

  2. Thank you, Susan! Of course, your artist eye transforms what you see. I wonder how you would have painted the scene?


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