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.