Will Write For Food

I have returned from my partially enforced, partially voluntary writing hiatus, and thought it might be nice to warn my readers that I have a few ideas bubbling in the caudron of my mind for taking this blog in a few different directions from this entry forth.

I started this blog in large measure just as a means to get my writing chops up, and to give myself a semi-structured venue for my food writing. I have had fiction and articles published in a variety of print media over the years, but have not had the guts to submit any of my food writing to magazines or newspapers. Though I have flirted with the writing of a cookbook over the years, I haven’t yet found a hook that will help me narrow my focus into a subject that is both compelling and entertaining.

When I had to rush off unexpectedly to help my aunt cope with my uncle’s serious life-threatening illness, I was forced not only to abandon the momentum I had built up in my writing, but I had the time to take a good, hard look at what I was writing, why I was writing it and what I was capable of writing. I found that I had ceased to take what I was doing seriously enough to really be worthy of my goal of giving voice to some of the wisdom I had gleaned over the years, and so I have resolved to do better.

In light of that goal, I picked up and started reading Dianne Jacob’s excellent book, Will Write For Food, which is essentially a “how-to” book for aspiring food writers.

Now, I will admit that the best way to learn about writing isn’t to read books that are about writing, but to read good prose of any sort, and to write obsessively. Having a critical mind and an iron backbone helps as well; if one is serious about learning to write well, one needs to have the strength and discipline to take harsh criticism. If you cannot ruthlessly mow your sentences down like the Grim Reaper on a harvesting spree, then you shouldn’t think about really being a writer. If you cannot take the well-meant, but often stinging words of the editorial red pen, then you need to find another hobby.

I can withstand the stroke of an editor’s pen, no matter how painful the lashes might be. And I can push myself to rip apart my most carefully constructed paragraph in order to purge the dross and seek the one sentence or phrase of pure gold. I can start an essay and work on it for three days and then, realizing that it goes nowhere, can delete it out of existence with the stroke of a finger, and start over, and write it again until I get it right.

I can do these things, but I haven’t been.

I confess that I had become lazy, and while I was away, all of the momentum I had built up to keep writing leached away as I watched my uncle fight successfully for his life. What I had been writing dwindled into insignificance beside his heroic struggle.

And so, when I came home, I nearly gave up and deleted the blog and forgot about what I had set out to do in a fit of artistic angst.

I despise angst, especially when it is unnecessary. Being grief-stricken over the impending death of a loved one is not angst–that is something that everyone who loves a mortal being must face at least once in their lives. That is real, and true, and it is at the heart of what it means to be human. Kvetching over what exactly I am going to write about today is whining, pure and simple, and I refuse to allow myself to wallow in manufactured angst any longer.

So, I have confessed to you. I have been lazy, whiny and alltogether too angsty for my or anyone else’s own good. I have resolved to cease in this foolishness, and get back to what I set out to do, which is present the world with the best writing I can manage on the broad subject of food and all elements that touch upon that subject.

As I mentioned before–things are going to change around here.

For one thing, there probably will not be a long post every day. I will try to post shorter pieces once a day, just to let people know that I am still in my kitchen and at my keyboard, thinking, cooking and writing, but I cannot keep up the momentum of writing a huge post every day without the quality of my writing slipping.

I would rather present my readers with quality than quantity, so I will be presenting more longer pieces and series, carefully written and edited over a period of days, and sometimes weeks, in order to really give the world something worth reading. The first series will be a four-part series that will start in the next few days, and I hope that you will enjoy it. I will give a bit of a hint–it is about the architecture of world cuisines, and involves pillars.

With that, I wish you all a happy Saturday, and I hope that each of you live your lives to the fullest every second you walk upon our beloved planet.


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  1. I’m glad your uncle pulled through 8^)

    Comment by Anonymous — May 22, 2005 #

  2. I’m sure that whatever you choose to write will be excellent.

    Looking forward to it,

    Planted the Leafless Redbud Twig yesterday!

    Comment by wwjudith — May 22, 2005 #

  3. Thanks Anonymous!

    Keep me up to date on how that redbud twig does for you, Judith!

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — May 22, 2005 #

  4. If it is any incentive, you are on the list of for consideration for Digital Dish 2 if we ever sell enough copies of Digital Dish itself to go to a second volume…

    see http://www.pressforchange.com

    Comment by Owen — May 26, 2005 #

  5. Hi Barbara,
    I really enjoy your writing, please continue, or goodness knows if I’ll survive from the withdrawal symptoms. Remember the two words I wrote about your hands? You go girl! Shirley

    Comment by Anonymous — May 27, 2005 #

  6. Your post reminded me strongly of how I reacted to my parents’ deaths (within a few months of each other)–I shut down writing completely. I don’t blame myself for this (too much), but I think I might have dealt better if I’d written out what was going on in my head.

    Comment by mary g — June 2, 2005 #

  7. I am glad that my Uncle Frank pulled through, too–he was really, really sick for a time.

    Judith–how is that leafless redbud twig doing now? Still leafless?

    Owen–thank you! I am honored–especially since I have only been at this blogging thing for a few months. For those who don’t know what Digital Dish is–it is a book that Owen just edited and published with the best of food blogs in it. It has some great stuff in it–you should check it out. Owen busted his rear end to put the book together and is now out publicizing it and marketing it–which is just as hard as putting a book together. So, if you are interested, follow his link and maybe pick up a copy.

    And if I make it into DD2–you have to read it, because I will be in it!

    No worries, Shirley, I am back, I really am this time. And I will be wearing these wrist braces religiously so I can write at length, because I really want to get out the Pillars of Kitchen Wisdom–I was talking with Dan about it earlier this week and it just got me more into wanting to write the ideas down in some sort of form.

    It involves Chinese cookery, so I promise it will be interesting!

    Hey, Mary G: nice to see you here! Part of my problem is physical disability from the idiot RSI issues in my arms, but part of it also has to do with losing momentum and getting distracted. For me, writing is like meditating. I have to just sit my ass down and do it, or I won’t. And once I get in the habit of it, I am fine, but until then–gah! It is like taking medicine. I will do whatever I can to avoid it.

    I have heard from professional writers that they are the same way. Writing is not as easy as it looks or sounds. It is actually hard work and there are so many things that people can come up with to do rather than write.

    You keep on writing, and I promise to keep writing, too!

    Comment by Barbara Fisher — June 4, 2005 #

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