Sifting through print evidence of a career
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So. We just moved to a new home after 26 years. I’m sure you know about the crazy housing market. About 1.75 years ago my husband and I decided to move to a more senior-friendly house while he had a job (at Apple!) and we could qualify for a loan.
During those 1.75 years we bid on six houses and lost them all. Then, about a month ago, we finally won a house!
It was way too much to be confronted with all of a sudden. And of course, I had to make many difficult decisions about what to keep and what could go. I spent many hours in my office, paging through decades of publications, boxes, and mementos. There were:
Paper clippings from newspapers and magazines where I was a freelance writer
City, national and international magazines where I was editor
Notes and handouts from food writing and blogging conferences
Dozens of food magazines still on my office bookshelf!
Of course there were many trips to Goodwill and I got rid of lots of books that wouldn’t fit in the new house — more than 300.
It meant packing up quickly and moving before good friends arrived for Thanksgiving. But mixed in with the stress of deciding what to pack and what to pitch, I got to look back on a long career in journalism. I found lots of service pieces about entertaining and cooking, and restaurant reviews from the early days. I ripped stories and columns from magazines and threw out the rest. I read through my Greenbrier Writing Symposium binders and posted a photo on Twitter for the year I attended as an instructor. That’s me, in the second row, second from the right. I even reread a few thank you notes from students and clients that I kept for when I needed a pick-me-up.
The dozens of food magazines tugged at me. Our library didn’t want them. I gave a few to a writer friend, because those Whetstones and Cherry Bombes are too expensive to recycle. What pained me most was throwing out years of Lucky Peach and Saveur, two favorites. And the Gourmets when Ruth Reichl was queen bee. And the Gastronomicas when Darra Goldstein was editor.
But I did it. I felt a momentary pang as they landed in my recycling bin with a thump. Then it felt freeing as well.
We’re now in a house that’s a little smaller, but it’s just as beautiful as the last one. It has hardwood floors and old mahogany doors. My office window overlooks an oak tree and a bit of the backyard deck overlooking a creek. Shadows of birds flit by on the side of the house as I write.
I’ll be unpacking for months. But it’s been meaningful to set up my new office with my mic, O ring light and standing desk. That’s what I need to be in the modern world, where everything is online. Not reams of paper.
What do you do with your prior print work? Do you keep them in boxes or folders? Are you a fan of impermanence, so you feel comfortable throwing things out? Do you take a photo first? Or do you like the idea of paper records in banker boxes? Let me know.
What I’m eating:
When you get this newsletter, it will be the day after my foot surgery for a broken ankle. Fortunately it happened after our move. I’m thankful for friends who have helped out:
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What I'm Reading
6 Best Ways to Arrange Your Cookbooks, According to Professional Organizers. Okay, but most of us have way more than three to six books to arrange prettily on a ledge or basket.
The Ultimate Pinterest Analytics Guide. Food bloggers get so much traffic from Pinterest, so it’s important to understand their metrics.
Republishing Content Articles. A three-part series on why and what to republish, from Food Blogger Pro.
The rise and folly of the refugee cookbook. A searing look at how we look at people from other countries through cookbooks, especially refugees.
What Do Photo-Free Cookbooks Offer 21st Century Readers? You might worry that a publisher won’t agree to photos in your dream cookbook. Will it tank without them? This author says no.
Why’s it taken so long for foreign-language characters and words to make it into English cookbooks? They weren’t accustomed to taking the trouble.
The Complete Guide to Query Letters. Jane Friedman recently updated this post. It has more than 200 comments! I love her lede: the query is all about seduction. Yes!
Q+A with Cookbook Author Kate Leahy. David Lebovitz interviews this cookbook author about writing cookbooks and her new book.
Other Kitchens, Other Cooks: Generosity in Recipe Writing. A long post about the best way to write recipes, by “anticipating challenges and offering context to guide readers to a successful cooking experience.”
PD Dining Editor Heather Irwin: ‘I said yes at the right time.’ There are still a few jobs as a restaurant writer. Irwin got one.
If You’re Not Going to Promote Your Book, Why Did You Even WRITE It? Most authors hate book promotion, and then they complain that their books are not selling.
Italy In Bocca: rare funky cardboard cookbooks coveted by chefs in the know. Two friends who aren't chefs make a glorious meal with friends, cooking from rare Italian cookbooks.
The Definitive History of Dorie Greenspan’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. Good tips for recipe developers here about Dorie’s approach. And here’s her inside look at Making a cookbook: Food photography.
How to make Twitter a better place – with emotional food memories. Advice on what gets a good response.
14 New Ways to Get More Instagram Followers in 2022. All of us need more followers — that is the constant message.
How Amazon calculates sales ranking for books — and how to estimate book sales numbers based on ranking. Good stuff for your book proposal.
News About Clients and Students
The Washington Post published Monti Carlo’s story with recipe, Puerto Rican pernil is a standout Thanksgiving roast. Just guard that crispy skin. (Possible paywall.)
Faith Kramer’s first cookbook is 52 Shabbats: Friday Night Dinners Inspired by a Global Jewish Kitchen. I’ve eaten many of the dishes in this book. She’s a brilliant cook who knows how to pump up flavor, and a good friend. I’m so proud of her!
Nico Vera wrote The Coca Story Goes Way Beyond the Cola for Taste.
I like to brag about your food writing accomplishments here. Just send me an email: email@example.com.
Disclosures: I am an affiliate of Food Blogger Pro, Amazon and Bookshop.org.
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