The year was 2000. I was on a church retreat to Toccoa Falls in the north Georgia mountains. We would spend the next several days doing Bible study, having worship services, going on canoe trips and hikes, and, in my hotel room, listening to John Mayer. My friend Jenna had a copy of his first CD, “Inside Wants Out,” which included early recordings of songs that would, a year and a half later, become hits, like “No Such Thing,” and “My Stupid Mouth.”
It was a year when anything seemed possible for several people in my life. My little brother, Danny, was rooming with his best friend Chad. He took me aside at dinner one night and asked me what my room number was. Danny and I had little to do with one another on church trips; he was with his friends, and I was with mine, and whenever my friends were around, Danny would blush relentlessly, so he kept his distance. “Why do you want to know?” I asked him. “Because Chad has a crush on Jenna and wants to call her.” I shook my head and crossed my arms, crushing dreams. “No,” I said. “We don’t want you guys calling the room.” (I was that kind of big sister.)
But Chad wasn’t the only one for whom hope sprung eternal: Jenna herself had emailed John Mayer to ask him if he would go to prom with her. It was early in his career, when he was still knocking around Atlanta, picking up momentum, playing at Eddie’s Attic. It wouldn’t have been impossible for him to go to prom with her. (As it turned out, he didn’t respond. What are you going to do? Musicians, right?)
Sometimes, in life, we see something we want, and we just go for it. We know the answer will probably be no. Chad had to know that even if I gave them my room number, Jenna was probably not going to want to go out with him. Jenna probably knew that John Mayer was not going to respond to her invitation to be her prom date. I knew another guy in high school who sent Dave Matthews an invitation to his graduation party; Dave Matthews didn’t RSVP or show up. And that was expected. But the point is, we put ourselves out there. We ask the big question, we take a chance, and we see what happens.
A month or so ago, Alimentum, the journal dedicated to the art and literature of food, put a call out on Twitter. They were in the process of revamping their website, and they were looking for food bloggers to feature.
Now let me be clear. I love my blog. I work hard at it, and it’s fun. And on top of it being fun, it’s pretty (I think) and I get connected with bloggers and readers, which I love. But there are some truly beautiful food blogs out there in the world. They’re pretty girls walking down the hallway with perfect hair. They’ve had their braces off for so long that no one remembers when their mouths were encased in metal. They wear the right clothes from the right stores, and they’re kind to everybody, and they’re funny and charming. And when you know, full well, that there are more popular blogs walking around in the blogosphere, blogs with professional photographs, taken with lighting equipment and actual cameras, blogs done by cookbook authors and journalists and people who use Greek yogurt as the base for a dinner entree, you just know where you stand in the world.
And yet. When Alimentum put out that call for food blogs, I replied. I have a food blog, I said. Check me out at Whisks & Words. I took a chance. I asked the difficult question: Alimentum, will you go to prom with me.
Would you believe they actually said yes?
I got a Twitter message last week saying they wanted to feature my blog on their website for the next month. Holy crap.
As of last night, Whisks & Words is the Food Blog Fav on Alimentum’s website. I’m psyched. I’m not even one of the popular girls. I’m sometimes snarky. There are too many photos of me with braces, metaphorically speaking. My clothes sometimes don’t quite look right. But Alimentum agreed to be my prom date, again, metaphorically speaking. And I’m psyched. (No metaphor there. That’s real.)
Why is this a big deal? Well, for the reasons above having to do with an extended metaphor about prom dates and feelings of insecurity in the school hallways of this great world wide web of blogs. But also on a more personal writerly level: writers, when they’re just starting out, write stories or essays or poems. We polish them, we revise them, and then we send them out to journals and hope for the best. And we expect rejection. It’s just the way the game works.
I’ve been rejected by Alimentum a couple of times, but they’ve always been on my list of dream journals, places I want very badly to be published at some point in my career. And true, this isn’t a place in their journal. That’s still a goal of mine. But my dream journal has reached out and said, hey, we like what you’re doing on that blog of yours. We’re going to link to it. We’re going to feature it on our home page.
I’m pretty sure that means Alimentum is buying me a corsage and picking me up for prom. And what this all goes to show you is that you have to take chances. You have to ask celebrities to your prom or your graduation party. You have to at least ask your sister if there’s a chance her friend will go out with your friend. Because sometimes, there is a chance. Sometimes, John Mayer does email back. Sometimes, this writer’s game does pay off.