Sunday, November 13, 2011

Digesting Words: The Art of Food Blogging

The other evening I had the pleasure of attending a lecture at George Brown College called Eating Words: The Art of Food Blogging, which was given by the very successful food blogger Clotilde Dusoulier of Chocolate and Zucchini. A friendly colleague had invited me, among others, to attend the lecture with the idea that I'd write about it on my blog. This same colleague and I had discussed food, exchanged food books, and generally shared the same enthusiasm for food when we worked for the same company back in 2006. She even encouraged me to write about food for suite101 and emailed me all the info I needed to get started. At the time I thought who me? write? nah, I couldn't do that. I still have that email in my inbox so obviously it was an idea I couldn't write off (pun intended). In fact, I've brainstormed many ideas for books and articles for as long as I can remember. Hey, I even started a blog, which brings me to some of the ideas I took away from the lecture.

Like me, Clotilde also questioned her former career since she felt it was missing a meaningful connection. Unlike me, she started her blog about her then relatively new found food obsession, managed to quit her day job two years later and is now a successful blogger, writer, and editor. While she talked about her "rules" (her quotes) for food blogging I recognized a few key areas that I needed to address on my own blog.

In the same way that I have psychological discomfort when having to make statements meant to define myself (I won't go into that today), I have not chosen a focus for my blog, which is breaking rule number one. I was initially going to write about food and wine as the blog name would suggest, but if you peruse the meagre archives you'll see that I have meandered quite a bit. I don't want to pin myself to just food, or just knitting - another obsession, and I don't want the blog to be a substitute for the stuff reserved for the pen and paper journal I keep as a life line (I admit I've veered in that direction a bit). But before I can choose a focus, or find a way for my focus to include diverse subject matter, I need to think about what the goal is for this blog. Clotilde stressed this point but did not include it in her rules. I suppose it must be obvious that one shouldn't blog without a goal that it is tacitly understood to be the proto-rule. But I tripped merrily ahead and must take corrective action after the fact.

Another of her rules is to keep at it. I've kept at it in the sense that I've had the blog for a few years but have not posted in a consistent manner. I've mostly written when the urge is strong enough and I happen to have something on my mind that I think might be fun to write about.
But this rule speaks to good old fashioned self-discipline, an area I struggle with - I think I may have mentioned this before. Her final rule was to have fun, which should ensure that you'll keep at it.

A few other ideas that came up during the lecture dealt with frequency of posting. I've always felt that I was not doing it enough though I never really bothered to set a target. Instead, I always had this vague feeling of being an inadequate blogger. Clotilde suggested to not post daily, and that going on hiatus is actually okay (if you do it properly) - I swear you could hear a collective sigh of relief in the room when she made these suggestions.

I think I'm doing okay with her fourth rule: be genuine. Though I don't yet know how to define myself or my blog, I can't blog, or do anything, without feeling authentic about it.
I believe I write in order to know myself better, which I suppose is a goal, albeit a deeply personal one. I hope that in knowing myself better I am better able to understand others.

I thank Clotilde Dusoulier for her generosity in sharing her knowledge with a bunch of strangers. She's following one of her own rules - connect - which is not surprising. It's characteristic of food (and knitting) blogs to put your passion, which is too much to contain in every day life, out there in the hopes of connecting with like minded people. The blogosphere seems to contain groups of generous, collegial, and supportive people who, there is no question, I'd love to connect with.




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