Frantic As My Venice Biological Clock Ticks

venice grand canal at night

I’m so CONFLICTED.

I only have two days left here in Venice. I want to get out there and see it all NOW. But I also want to record it in my notebook so I can remember all the little details that I need if I’m going to write about all of this later. I need to note that the natural pistachio ice cream I ate last night [Read more…]

Progress on Getting My Book Published

I wanted to update all of you on the progress of my book. The manuscript of of And Then We Ate Gouda: Scenes from a Cheese-Filled Life, is done. It’s a mini-memoir that celebrates the foods and flavors that punctuate our lives and memories.

I was an unsuspecting child when a grilled cheese sandwich changed my life forever. Who would have known that a single square of American sandwiched between two slices of Wonder Bread and spread with margarine would launch a lifetime of love, adventure, cheese, and cheese-love?

Writing this book is a big deal to me. I’ve always looked at authors—people who’ve published books—as the top of the writer food chain. To me, authordom is an elusive club I want to join. I’ve issued a challenge to myself to see if I can do it, if I’m good enough and persistent enough to make it happen.

I’ve always wondered that about myself.

Now I’ll finally know.

I sent pitches to agents a couple of weeks ago. So far, two have asked to see the proposal. TWO!!!! It doesn’t sound like much, but I have to tell you that I’m thrilled to death. All I need is one—the right one.

I keep telling myself that this is just one step on a very long road. I’m excited and nervous and scared and hopeful.

Cross your fingers for me. I promise to keep you posted.

Three Reasons Why My Book Will Never Sell

view boston renaissance hotel

It’s 10:17 a.m. and I’m still in my pajamas, sitting in bed with my computer. In a hotel room. In Boston.

I’m here with Ron for a long weekend, and what am I doing? I’m hiding in our hotel room. That’s ok, I tell myself. There’s only so much fun one girl woman can handle. (With my 50th birthday looming, I can’t really say girl anymore, can I?) I’m exhausted and I need [Read more…]

Inane Conversations With Myself

raspberry donut

Everyone has an Achilles’ heel, a weakness that has the potential to undermine all of their positive qualities. Superman had kryptonite, The Wicked Witch of the West had water, Imelda Marcos had shoes. Mine is that I think too much.

Those of you who know me well understand that this is something I’ve excelled at my entire life. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t written much recently.

Lately, the things I’ve been overthinking include: What I should write? How I should write it? What is unique that will draw readers to me? What are my goals as a writer? How does my blog fit into and advance my goals as a writer? What do readers want to read? Who is my target audience and how do I reach them?

Of course these thoughts occur in a less organized way. It goes down more like this:

Me: I really want to write a blog post about my donut.

Internal Bad Cop: OK, but what is the plan?

Me: My plan? To write a blog post about my donut…

Bad Cop: No, no, no. You can’t just write a blog post about your donut. Remember that seminar you went to? The blogosphere is crowded. You can’t just write about anything you want. You have to have a niche, a unique angle, then turn yourself into an expert or a character. Think Happiness Project or The Pioneer Woman.

Me: But I like to write about everyday life as well as food and travel. You know, things that make me laugh or smile.

Bad Cop: No, no, no. WAY TOO WIDE. Think narrow end of the funnel. Like the woman whose posts are all thoughts on Post-It notes. Or that guy who posts photos of beautiful women with douchey-looking guys. People love those blogs.

Me: Well, I could narrow the focus to just food…

Bad Cop: Food? Do you know how many people already write about food? Plus they are much better recipe developers and food stylists than you will ever be. If you’re going to do food, you’ve gotta get specific. Go where no one else has gone before. I know—DONUTS.  You want to write about that stupid donut—go for it. But then do it every day.

Me: Write about donuts every day? Seems like that would get a little repetitious.

Bad Cop: In the blogosphere, repetition is a good thing. People will come back if they know what to expect.

Me: I wish you’d stop saying blogosphere. Is that even a word?

Bad Cop: Let me check. Yup, yup. Wikipedia says it’s a word. Urban Dictionary too.

Me: Ok, fine. Blogosphere is a word. But I’m still not sure about donuts every day. Shouldn’t I write about things that interest me regardless of whether I can organize them into a neat little marketable package—or not?

Bad Cop: Sure, if you want to take the risk that no one will ever read it. The least you can do is to make it a little salacious or provocative. Innuendo always gets people’s attention. And speaking of marketing, this would be a good time to think about the monetization of your blog. What might make it attractive to an advertiser or sponsor? What potential products could you sell from your site?

Me: (silent pout for five minutes)

Bad Cop: Ok, ok. How a compromise. Maybe fried food…

Me: I don’t know. Still sounds like it would get very repetitious after a while.

Bad Cop: Repetitious? No way. You could do fried clams, fried artichokes, fried Oreos, onion rings, French fries, fried eggs, fried bologna sandwiches…

Me: But I’m trying not to eat as much fried food. At 50, my metabolism can’t burn off fat the way it use to.

Bad Cop: Do you want people to read your blog or not? Fried chicken, fried Milky Way candy bars, chicken fried steak, fried shrimp, fried rice, fried grasshoppers—and even that stupid donut of yours is fried.

Me: Ok, ok, fried food. So now let me get back to what I was trying to do in the first place—write about my donut.

Bad Cop: Hold on. You can’t write anything yet. You haven’t named your blog.

Me: Shouldn’t I just write some posts first, on the blog that I have? After I see where it’s going I can worry about a name.

Bad Cop: Sure. Do that—If you want to risk loosing out on the best blog name possible. URLs are going fast. In fact, I read somewhere that all the best ones are gone already. Wait if you want. But it won’t be my fault when you get stuck with a loser .biz or a .co url.

Me: Ok, ok. So what do you suggest?

Bad Cop: How about High Frying.com or FryFryAgain.com.

Me: FryFryAgain is kinda cute. Let me check WestHost to see if it’s available…Oh shoot. Taken. By a fryer management company. Whatever fryer management is.

Bad Cop: See. You’re already too late. Someone else has stolen your big chance for blogging success… Your blogging career is over as fast as it started. Wait—what about this: FrydayNightBites.com—you could post once a week—on Friday night…

Me: FrydayNightBites? That’s just stupid.

Bad Cop: Just check WestHost to see if it’s available…Or maybe FridayNightBites instead and your focus is easy finger-food sort of stuff…

See why I haven’t been able to get anything done?

The Right Frame of Mind to Write

Creative womb

 

Some of you have been wondering why I haven’t been posting. Although I’ve wanted to write, I haven’t been able to. I seem to have lost my connection to the part of my brain that gets beyond wanting to write and actually does write.

I’ve had so much to write about, too. Since moving to Atlanta in November I’ve been to Chicago, Seville, Boston, Madeira, Lisbon, New Orleans, Las Vegas (twice), the North Georgia Mountains, and San Francisco. Every place had stories to tell. I just can’t get into the right frame of mind to write them.

My ability to create has become as illusive as a mobile phone signal in the Ozark Mountains

So what happened?

Honestly, who the hell knows?

What I do know is that when I’m writing prolifically, it’s because I’ve been able to crawl into a cerebral womb. A safe-room in my head that insulates me, even from my own doubts. Inside my womb I am obsessed, almost possessed. Writing is a game. I giggle when I find just the right word, mentally high-five myself when I cut a wordy paragraph down to a single, clear sentence. My internal critic goes silent. Hours pass without me realizing. Sometimes a whole day.

Being inside the womb feels really, really good. Intoxicating. Like being on drugs. Only better because you don’t get a hangover, nothing goes missing or gets broken, and the worst consequence is that your family gets pissed when you postpone lunch until tomorrow or the next day.

When I’m in my womb, I feel so satiated by doing the work that it doesn’t matter that only a handful of people will read it. Nor does it matter that I’ll probably never turn my essay writing into financial success.

Things had been going great until right before our move to Georgia. I’d been able to create at least one blog post a week. That’s when I found myself outside the womb. I don’t even know how it happened. One day I was in, the next I was out.

I think every writer and artist (and even the people who have to come up with new ideas at work or to entertain their children) experiences this. One day, you wake up and you just can’t make it happen. It feels like someone has cut the giant umbilical cord that delivers the sustenance that enables you to create. The flow is cut off. Nada. Caput. Gone.

Being locked outside my own womb makes me feel lonely, angry—and incapable.

Feelings which, in turn, seem to make it even harder to get back into the womb. It’s an endless circle of frustration.

After six months of writers block, I’ve had enough. I want back in my womb.  I miss that magical, enchanted state. The satisfaction of getting words onto the page screen.

I’m not sure how to get there, but I’m going to take the fact that I’ve been able to write this as a promising sign.

So how do you do it? How do you kick-start the creative flow so you can crawl back into your womb? Please share…