I’m going to bare my soul in these words so read but please don’t judge. Last year, many of you know I began a series called Food Writer Friday where I interviewed food writers / bloggers that I follow and respect.
Everyone is busy and keeping up with who sent what and when it would run was part of the job and sometimes (?) I overcommit. Many a night I thought, “I can’t do it this week, I don’t have enough information to write,” only to receive several replies in the next email reading session.
My interviews were never question and answer because unless this method is well done, the interviews can be a bit boring. Nothing wrong with that approach, but it is easy to send a list of questions and copy and paste and I’ve never done anything the easy way.
I would get the answers to my questions along with the photos the food writer said I could publish and then I’d head off to their blog and read and read and read, always starting with their About Me page. When you’ve been following a blog for a while, you already have a clue as to the writer’s personality but it’s not until you get into the nitty gritty that you find out how wonderful they are.
I would take their answers and look for how those answers related to posts they’d done. Were there stories that fit a funny answer? My interviews were always stories.
All was going swimmingly until one day I was sitting in my office chair all fat and happy and I opened my email. Now I’m not one who gets into controversy with anyone. It’s not my style and frankly I’m too old to give a toss what someone thinks about me. At least that’s what I thought.
The email was from a woman who said she’d been following my blog for a short while and enjoyed my food writer friday series – I was feeling pretty good at this point – and then my heart sank when she said, “who do you think you are trying to decide who’s important in the food writing field?”
I leaned back, swallowed hard and thought (and probably said out loud) “I don’t decide that, I write about people I care about.”
Never have I thought I was important enough that my opinion would matter in an instance like that but here was a woman thinking that I thought myself a king (or queen) maker. It was ridiculous. I know that now and on some level I knew that then but on that particular day I felt I didn’t know a damned thing.
My series was about celebrating those who worked really hard to teach us and to entertain us with their words. I was gutted and instantly jumped to the conclusion if she felt that way maybe others thought the same thing and weren’t telling me. My old insecurities popped up. I’m the one with the mother who said, “Maureen, you’re just an awful writer. You should be a doctor.”
So I stopped doing interviews. I licked my emotional wounds. I kept on cooking.
Fast forward 6 months and one day I was talking with Helene Dsouza from Masala Herb (someone I’d interviewed and whom I consider a friend) on IM one night and she said, “Whatever happened that you stopped doing food writer friday, I really liked that series.”
Should I tel lher the truth or do I not? I’m not good at keeping up with lies so I just don’t do it. I told her and to her credit she said, “Maureen, that’s so bullshit, your series was good.” Then she said, “If you want to start it back up, I’ll help you.” Then, as you do when talking to a friend, we went on to talk about whatever it was she’d messaged me about in the first place.
I talked with John and said, “What do you think about starting Food Writer Friday as a site of its own where there would be nothing but a showcase of the person behind the blog? He smiled and said, “So you want me to buy foodwriterfriday.com and set up the server then?”
Squeezed in around my husband, my job, my blogs, my dog, my cats, my house, chores and my friends, I created the website, never telling Helene what I was doing. I wanted it to be a surprise. She’d been really kind to boost my confidence and she deserved a surprise.
One afternoon I sent her a message to let me know when she was online. I’m in Australia and she’s in Goa in India so the time isn’t too far apart but apart enough that we’re only around at the same time in my afternoon and evening.
When I showed her, she was on it like a bird on a bug. Within 30 seconds (I might be exaggerating a bit) she’d copied over most of the previous interviews I’d done, she’d created the Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest pages and gotten us a Twitter handle. If you need anything done — anything at all — give it to Helene.
Food Writer Friday relaunched on Friday with an interview done by Helene on Shulie Madnick from Food Wanderings. I’ve followed her blog for a long time and I learn something with every visit. I’m sure you probably know Shulie already because she’s got a terrific blog and her food always has her special tweak but if not, click the photo or her name or her blog and pay her a visit.
If you’d like to be interviewed, we’d love to hear from you. We have a long list of food writers we both admire and you’re probably on it, so let us know? You can write to me here, or over at Helene’s place or at Food Writer Friday.
You know, I’ve been wondering for months what happened to Food Writer Friday! I loved this feature. And not just because you chose me as one of your subjects (I remain flattered and honored – and once again want to thank you!). Your interviews were (and now are!) so excellent. You know, no matter what you do – say, the way you tie your shoe – there’s someone out there saying it’s all wrong and should be done another way. Well, baloney. We all read blogs for different reasons, but my reason I read any blog is I find the person really interesting. I don’t need more recipes – I have way too many! – but I’m really interested in reading why someone makes what, and why. You have personality and character, and your interviews revealed both your personality and character, and that of the interviewee. I kinda wish you had kept this feature on your own site – but commercially, having it on a different one could be rather cool. Anyway, so glad this this is back. Thank you very much.
You are so kind!
Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb says
I am glad you decided to revive the food writer friday series, I really enjoyed them and now working on it with you maureen is so fun! Thank you again for the awesome surprise, you rock. =))
I’m having the best time with this, Helene. Thanks for pulling me out of the hole on this. 🙂
Maureen there is no conceivable way that your Food Writer Fridays sucked – no no no way! They were written with zest and style and I felt like I was watching a live interview 😀
Through it, everyone interconnected and met so many wonderful new bloggers, you showcased people wonderfully! Thank you very much for bringing this back my friend, I cannot wait to see the excitement of other new featured people and hear their stories (I remember my own time so well and honestly, it was such an honour :D)
Thanks again for bringing this back!
Aww Uru, thank you and I love you 🙂
Martyna @ Wholesome Cook says
Wow, good on you Maureen for not just sticking with it, but going for it all guns blazing! Love that you received the encouragement from the community and that you’ve created the new site, which by the way looks great! Congrats! So thrilled for you! xo
Martyna, my cooking queen, thank you heaps for leaving a comment like this. It means a lot.
I love that you will start it again! It is hard for me to believe how incredibly nasty and “small” people can be.
I am glad you told the full story, and did not allow those silly comments to interfere with your plans and goals. More power to you! 😉
The problem was with me. I allowed this woman to question my ability and my motives and I made the decision to think I fell short. I can’t blame her, she was just being herself. I didn’t have to buy into it and I think I’m past it. 🙂
Rachelle Weymuller says
Do it because it feeds you.
I enjoyed your ability to share openly your reactions to the email. Everyone has their stuff, it is enough to conquer ones own and keep going. Glad to hear you didn’t let someone else hold you back, for too long and went all out with a website! I’m looking forward to following your interviews.
What a beautiful comment. It feeds me. You are absolutely right.
Aww Maureen I am so sorry you encountered that email. I love the series. Many I have already followed, and if not, thanks to your introduction, I do now. I had no clue of what was happening behind the scenes. 🙁 I am really honored that you and Helene putting the spotlight on Food Wanderings.
We love your blog! We both said how much we’ve learned from you by following your blog.
I’ve just come across the beginnings of this post on foodblog.com and I wandered over here to read the rest because it’s always a refreshing change to find an article within the food blogging world that isn’t an actual recipe. As I’m a fairly new food blogger I was unaware of your Food Writer Friday, and feel slightly miffed at the individual who stuck her oar in and spoiled the enjoyment that you (and others) were getting from sharing your interviews. Now that you are *back in business* with a new website et al, I can’t wait to read what food bloggers are really like behind the photographs, recipes and ramblings. Good luck in your new venture 🙂
Thanks so much for coming by, Abbe, it means a lot. I’m not going to look back. 🙂
Denise Browning@From Brazil To You says
I know that certain comments can be unpleasant and hurtful…In one year of blogging, I was luck enough to have received just 2 pretty awful comments but this is what we get to expose ourselves to the world unfortunately. There will always be people that are moved for anything except goodness in their hearts. This is your blog and so you can decide who writes in a way that delights you enough to be on your Food Writer Friday wall or not. I hope you do not mind that I share with you something that I have learned in my short 40 years of life, and 1 year of blogging: 1. Move forward despite harsh comments because one will never please everyone. There will be always someone who disagrees with you; 2. Be brave enough to show the world who you are and express your own opinion. I do this all the time because since I have to accept others for whom they are — although sometimes I disagree about their choices, I expect the same from others (if necessary, I do demand it). 3. Those who likes me (or what I do) will happily stay, and those who doesn’t better to move away (or get used to) because I won’t stop until I am done.
All these things can sound tough, but — believe me — they will take you to a better place (the place where one has peace of mind). For the short time that I read your blog, I can say sincerely that I love you, and you and your work are likable and respectful.
Keep up the good work!
You are right, right right. I should never have allowed one person’s opinion challenge my confidence.
Gourmet Getaways says
Oh I am so pleased that you are starting this website up!
What a horrible nasty person to send an email like that to you. Obviously your stories were a selfless celebration of other food writers. I am so pleased Helene gave you the words you needed to make this move 🙂
Thanks to Helene I am past all that and looking forward to better days 🙂
Sawsan @chef in disguise says
I know the feeling you describe only too well. I am one of the people who are very hard on myself and try as I may, people’s words and actions still affect me much more than what I would like them to. When we do something with such passion (like the way you did the interviews) it is really hard when someone questions our motives or undermines our efforts. But I am here to tell you that I am one of many who think that you did a wonderful job on those interviews. They were really fun and interesting and felt like we were sitting with you and the person you interviewed for a friendly cup of tea.
I got to know a lot about some of the wonderful food bloggers you intereviewed and I was honored to be one of them. Your passion and dedcation showed through every single one. Some people are simply toxic, they can’t get by without hurting people around them. Please don’t let such a person get to you.
The person you are, what you have to offer is far too precious.
I know you’re right. Consciously. Subconsciously however, I hear my mother in the background about being a crap writer and this woman reinforced all that bad programming I’ve been trying to get past all my life. 🙂 I love your description of my interviews because that’s exactly how I wanted them to be.
I can’t believe how many of those bloggers I follow now! Great list!
That’s great of you to say. That tells me I’m good at choosing blogs to follow 🙂
I really like your interview approach. I get bored of reading interviews which are simply just question and answer too. I like to read stories and know more about the person behind the blog.
I think you were very clear that you interviewed bloggers that you enjoyed, not the most important. It’s like we cook and write about what we enjoy everyday on our blogs. We are not trying to tell people what’s good or bad but sharing an experience.
Following your new blog and look forward to more interviews 🙂
I can’t imagine deciding upon who’s most important without having fancy algorithms and statistics to wade through. The most important bloggers wouldn’t give me the time of day, I suspect. 🙂
I’ve only recently begun following you, Maureen, but you are not the person that woman tried to paint. I wouldn’t give her a 2nd thought and I’m glad you’re restarting the series. Good luck!
I hope I’m not, John! I’m so glad we’re friends. 🙂
Christine (Food Wine Travel) says
Good on you Maureen for baring your soul and for re-launching the series. I’ve looked at the first one that Helene did and I think it’s such a great idea (and a very generous one).
Great work Maureen 🙂 I’m so glad that you have decided to start up this series again! I remember reading a few posts on it but then I think you stopped ~ It’s a wonderful series and a great way to connect food bloggers!
Hi Smiling Daisy! Whenever I think of you I remember that beautiful young woman I met in Adelaide with a smile as big as the sky. 🙂 Thanks so much for the comment.
Maureen, your Food Writer Fridays were a delight to read, especially because your the personal approach.
I think the letter you’ve received is both ridiculous and sad. This is your space to express ideas and share what is important to you and frankly if someone doesn’t like it, so be it.
Staying true to yourself and enjoying what you do is most important, and you know there are plenty of us here who very much enjoy your work, so don’t let one negative opinion ruin your mood or motivation 🙂
you are incredibly kind. Now if I could find a way to get my photos done like you do, I’d be in heaven. I’m still thinking about your guest room. 🙂
Yes! Yes! Yes! Food Writer Friday all the way. Don’t anyone tell you otherwise. I love reading food blogger interviews, I mean, anyone obsessed with food would like to more about another foodie. Thanks for reinstating the series – WOOP
Oh Adrian, your enthusiasm is infectious!
Its easy to say you dont care what people think until you get a big mouth that gives you their unwanted opinion, and then how quickly we fold up our blanket and head for the comfort of home. Luckily you have some very good support around you Maureen, and some very good ideas so that you can just start over. I admire you being able to fit it all in and still do such a good job .
You are so right. I would have told everyone that I was a tough old broad – you’ve met me, you’d understand that a statement like that wouldn’t go astray where I was concerned. 🙂 Then when it happened to me, I was a puddle of my former self. That she said it didn’t bother me, the problem came from questioning myself. Maybe I AM full of shit. LOL
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
I’m so happy to hear about this, Maureen! #1, you are a terrific writer and your posts always make me laugh. #2, I love the series because it’s not just a straight Q&A, you always tell an interesting story that piques my interest :).
Thank you for making my day, Laura. I was baring my soul as an explanation and didn’t expect anything like the response I got.
Nami | Just One Cookbook says
I was checking my emails the other day and saw the linkback from Food Writer Friday and brought back good memory of your beautiful writing about me and my blog. I told you back then, but what you wrote is really my most favorite article/interview about me and my blog. I’ve been a fan of your FWF because you write great stories and it’s fun to learn about new/old food bloggers. You write very well Maureen, and I’m so happy to hear you didn’t quit (there are always people who like to tell their opinion, about anything). I actually wondered what happened to it back then, as it stopped appearing regularly. But life is so busy and didn’t even ask you what happened, but it didn’t mean that I forgot or cared less. I really love that series and congratulations on continuing to a next level. Helene is an amazing and supporting girl. Good luck – I’ll be always reading!
I love you to bits. You do so much for my ego. LOL Now if I could just photograph 1/10th as good as you can, I’d be a happy woman.
Great to know that you have revived FWF! That is such a great idea.
Thank YOU for considering an interview, Rosa! 🙂
The Squishy Monster says
Hooray for breathing new life back into this! I’m looking forward to it, Maureen!
So nice to see you and thanks a lot for the comment 🙂
What a fabulous idea. Blogging can be tough and sometimes we are misunderstood by others. Luckily you focused on the positive encouragement of a friend and ignored the negative.
I do owe her a lot 🙂
Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says
Maureen, I’m sorry that that happened to you. I think when people write those sorts of things, it really says more about them than it does about you. I always took it as a way for you to celebrate someone in food and for everyone get to know them better. For them to take a negative spin on it actually says something about their personality and they clearly can’t comprehend the idea of doing it for good, only for personal gain or ego.
Anyway, I’m glad that it is back and bigger than ever!! 😀
You’re sweet, Lorraine! I’m still trying to pre-order your book. Today Bookworld says, “not our problem, it’s with paypal.” Awaiting word from paypal now. 🙂
I am so sorry that someone was horrible like that to you Maureen, it’s really disgusting how some people think they have the right to criticize like that. I’m really glad you have decided to bring it back and you know we’ll be supporting you all the way.
Looking forward to the next delicious post/interview! I’m dying to know what that gorgeous skillet is! Is it Shashuka?
Hi Eva, I’m still swooning over that cheese danish! That dish was indeed Shakshuka. I linked it so people would click to view it. 🙂 Thanks so much for the kind words, you’re a special person.
Kim Beaulieu says
I’m so happy Helene contacted you. I’m super excited to head over to the new site.
And seriously why do people always have to be so rude. I cannot believe anyone would send you a note like that. It’s just silly. I’m glad you were able to share the experience with us. You should be really proud of yourself. And Helene. xx
I suspect she was upset that I hadn’t invited her. I can’t think of any other reason. I owe Helene a lot. 🙂
YAY!!!!! I am so happy to hear Food Writer Friday is back!!! I definitely enjoyed it, and loved learning about foodies I may know, and some I didn’t. I am looking forward to the fun that is to come! You and Helene ROCK in my book:-) Hugs, Terra
Oh can I give you a big hug?? You make me feel so good. I bet everyone says that about you.
lizzie - strayed from the table says
Maureen, I am so glad you are doing this again! There are some really inspiring food bloggers out there.
I was also wondering whatever happened to Food Writer Friday! I thought the person who e-mailed you was rude. We food bloggers do get our fair share of trolls and haters and while it can be momentarily discouraging, we also know that we have heaps more supporters so don’t worry, Maureen, I’m totally with you and congrats on the launch! Keep up the good work 🙂 x
Thanks Libby, I’ve learned so much this week!
Maureen, I wish you had trashed that email. I have met half of the wonderful people that I adore from YOUR series of Food Writer Fridays – Uru, Helene, Lorraine…..the list is long. And if that makes you the Queen maker, so be it. I adore that series, and I have missed it so much. In fact, had it not been for you, I might have shied away from Lorraine’s website, because to me she is the mega successful one who is kind of out of reach, lol!! Yet you made her human, endearingly so, and it was Food Writer’s Friday that made me realize how beautiful Lorraine was inside out. I seriously thought you got busy so that is why you weren’t doing them, and I felt I would intrude if I asked. I am so glad that it’s back, and in a much stronger platform. You have a gift of making those people come alive. So this was the project you were talking about……it rocks!! And please don’t mind the haters. In fact, in words of Khalil Gibran ‘ – “The envious praises me unknowingly”……and that is what made that blogger so atrociously rude to you. XOXO!
Minnie, you dear, sweet friend. This is the best comment I could have received. You met these food writers and love them for the same reasons I do. 🙂
Rhonda (@diningalone) says
The internet can be such a wonderful place and such a terrible place. I am glad you brought this back and I will be sure to check it out.
Dear Maureen, I think learning about all the fascinating people in the food blogging world is fantastic and always enjoy when I read them. It’s not just about the food sometimes.. you really get to know the people and what makes them tick. I am so happy some very small minded person’s sour grape attitude did not end this series. I am also glad you have friends like Helene and John to help you through. Keep it up… those of us out here in the blogesphere that have a good head on our shoulders can be happy for everyone out there getting celebrated. 🙂 Cheers!! ~ Ramona 🙂
Hi Maureen – this is good news! I too had been wondering what happened to Food Writer Fridays. It’s so sad that you initially stopped because of that email you received. It’s a shame these things can happen… people get their knickers in a twist over the most innocent of things, and I assure you – I greatly enjoyed the series.
Lovely to see it back in this new form!
Lizzy (Good Things) says
Maureen, how did I miss this post!? It must have been when I was unwell. You, my friend, are such a wonderful ambassador for fellow bloggers. Love you to pieces! Love these posts. Keep up the great work and congratulations on the new web site.
Becky Haseltine-Ripp says
mk so i have to cook dinner and i need a quick and easy recipe that will feed 12 big mouths can u help me any???? plz!!!!!
that’s like asking how long is a piece of string. I’d need to know what things you like to eat? any vegetarians or vegans? Any food intolerances? Is this a fancy dinner or are you looking for something that you can put in the slow cooker and serve. Lots of people will be happy to give you advice if you let us know what sort of cooking you’re interested in. Cooking is easy 🙂