I’m not much of a chain letter type of girl. I wasn’t good at it when I was young when it involved literally writing 20 identical letters and posting them off with a stamp and envelope, and I’m still not good with this genre as a blogger with a mac. But when Linda at Fork and Forage nominated me as one of her three people to continue the Writing Process Blog Tour, I immediately accepted. It’s become a movement of sorts, so many millions of bloggers have lent their voices to it: writers working on their first fiction novel, editors working on anthologies, and yes food bloggers.
In this fast paced world of everyone rushing through life, never taking the time to sit and read, The Writing Process Blog Tour celebrates writing. With the increased use of electronic media for gathering news, downloading books, and blogging, writing is going through an upheaval. And blogging has become a dominant force for the opportunity it provides anyone to self-publish anything you wish, and the fact that you can do it today. Right now. No waiting around for publishers, copy editors, photographers. Food blogging serves up competing demands of recipe development, food photography, writing, social media sharing, and SEO maximization up the ying yang. It’s kind of crazy when I think of the number of Facebook groups and Google circles I’m in as I StumbleUpon and Tweet my way through any given week.
1) What am I working on?
So many things.
I’m always developing new condiments, spreads, vinaigrettes, sprinkles, anything in short that simplifies our Wimpy Vegetarian – Carnivorous Maximus table. Not that I don’t love to cook, but the more I simplify everyday meals, the more time I have for developing new dishes. And the more time I have for writing. And life.
I’m reframing my cookbook concept. As many of you know, I submitted a cookbook proposal through my agent The Lisa Ekus Group to a ton of publishers. Although I did receive one (very low) offer, the common response was that other books in this genre hadn’t done well. To catch you up, my cookbook was imagined around cooking for vegetarians and omnivores eating together. Omnivore homes increasingly have a vegetarian or vegan at the table, so I thought a book with this focus would boast a good market. But it’s hard to argue bazillions of publishers who feel otherwise. In some ways I feel back at square one. But I always enjoy the thought process that goes into these projects, so we’ll see where it takes me next.
I’m also in the midst of writing two pieces I hope to submit to both print and online magazines in the next couple of months. It’s still too early to say more about this right now, so, more to come on that.
Otherwise, there’s a constant conveyer belt of ideas-cooking-photography-writing-posting cycling in my life and kitchen as I grow my blog and provide recipes I hope readers will like and prepare for their own families.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
First, I’m vegetarian light – or as someone tagged me at a dinner party a few years ago – a wimpy vegetarian, and am primarily focused on bringing more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and seeds into my diet. The result is my diet is <10% animal protein, >90% vegetarian. My site is not the one to come to for new tofu or seitan ideas, to be honest.
Also, I love to write about my life with Carnivorous Maximus (my husband), or CM for short, who wants meat at every meal except dessert (although candied bacon ice cream is something I’m sure he’d love).
3) Why do I write what I do?
Throughout my life, my need to create and express has taken different forms, and this blog and whatever stems from it is my latest effort. Truthfully, it’s something I see myself doing for a very long time. I love everything about food, the endless variety of flavors, textures, colors, and learning new ways of combining them into a dish. It’s fair to say, I’m rarely not thinking about food. And so many of my childhood memories involve food, from making fried bologna sandwiches with a close childhood friend, my first experience eating cherries jubilee as a teenager (I was horrified when the waiter pulled up a cart beside the table complete with flames making me the center of attention of the entire room), and sweet memories of sitting on a high stool next to the stove as a 5-year-old while Parker, a woman who cared for me for many years, did her summer canning.
I also enjoy writing about life with my Carnivorous Maximus husband as a way for us to connect our dietary preferences with humor, without judgment. (Ok, he might judge my farro as horse food since he greets it by pawing his right foot on the floor while neighing, but we’re working through that.) It’s been a bonding thing for us, and something I hope readers relate to.
4) How does your writing process work?
When an idea strikes, wherever I am, I jot it down in my food journal and pop it into my purse. Almost everyday, I walk to lunch at one of several nearby cafés to ramble it all out on paper, often ending up somewhere very different from where I began. Or sometimes I brainstorm lists of words and phrases on a blank page that connect to my idea. It’s seems crazy I guess when there are so many distractions there, but it all becomes a white noise that relaxes me. There are trees I can muse on, and a bricked plaza that usually offers up a musician du jour, kids and dogs.
The next day I re-read my scribbles, and focus on a primary idea I want to communicate. Any ideas that support the focus are included. Remaining thoughts are skimmed off and discarded. I write my first draft now on the computer.
I work it like a reduction sauce as I boil it down to its essence — wordsmithing, cutting, and reorganizing until I’m satisfied. Often at this stage I’ll send it over to CM, or read it to him, to get his input. Invariably a final rewrite results. Finally I publish, and move onto the next idea.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it
And now I’m passing the baton to 3 bloggers to continue the chain. I have so many blogger that I enjoy reading, but ended up choosing three that I would read even if they didn’t post great recipes with wonderful photos. This is about writing, after all. But I elected to go with 4, since I wanted to include CM, who has his own rich blogging life. So go check them out, and think about your own writing process.
Stephanie at The Recipe Renovator is someone I met through Facebook groups, blogs, and mutual friends. Stephanie has been gluten-free since 2007, and (mostly) sugar-free since 2006. In 2014 she had to go low-sodium/salt-free and started on a migraine-friendly diet. All along the way, she rebuilt her health by changing her diet, and shared recipes for others to do the same. She has a Master’s degree in Public Health in nutrition education and has been cooking delicious, healthy food for friends and family for more than three decades. She’s been featured in Cosmopolitan, the NYT Well Blog, Buzzfeed, San Diego Magazine, Bon Appetit, The Huffington Post, Meatless Monday, Earth Eats, Bob’s Red Mill, BlogHer Food, and I’m a member of theCooking Light Bloggers’ Connection.
Laura at Laura’s Mess is an English woman now living in Australia who I met through mutual blogger friends. To quote, “I cook a happy tumble of everything, usually to my own recipe … For health reasons, our everyday menu consists of healthy food crammed full of whole grains, antioxidants, vegetables and good fats (probably 75% plant based) but we’re definitely not averse to the odd cream cake or two.” Tucked into her recipes are mouth-watering photos, and scattered through her blog are places she loves to visit in her travels, both near and far from home. Her writing is personal, eloquent, and full of wonderful descriptive words that immediately kidnap your attention.
Cheri from My Savory Spoon is a blogger who splits her time with her husband between Arizona and the Oregon coast. I love Oregon, and particularly the coast, and love how she writes about her life there. Her blog is full of fabulous, healthy food that will get you into the kitchen. We met through our blogs too, and we’re kindred spirits in our food, lifestyle, and outlook on life.
And last, but far from least, is CM, my husband. His blog is The Fickle Finger where he blogs about his assessment of the present state of health care, creating a better future, and on emergency care in particular – since he’s a retired Emergency Room physician. His blogs are much more erudite than mine, don’t carry a lot of mouth-watering photos, but contains thoughtful writing about a field he’s dedicated so much of his life and energy to.