I like celebrating anniversaries.
Wait. Scratch that. I like celebrating. I like making special food, drinking a little extra wine, and enjoying a festive glow.
Last year, on my one-year blog anniversary, I wrote a big blog post. I made red velvet cupcakes, onto which I piped cream cheese frosting. I walked those cupcakes down to my neighbor’s house and shared with everyone. In short, I celebrated.
This year, on my two-year blog anniversary, I went out to lunch with my wife. I went shopping at used bookstores and antique shops. I had dinner and generally lounged around.
Why? Because I forgot that it was my blog anniversary. In fact, I didn’t realize that my anniversary had passed without my noticing until days later. The fact that I forgot speaks volumes to me. I’ll distill those volumes into a blog post.
I started this blog a little over two years ago with the premise that it was a blog about a writer who cooks. I knew I wanted a place to develop my passion for both cooking and writing. It has been the perfect place to share recipes, stories, experiences, photos, and thoughts. That’s writing a blog, which I’ve found is not the same thing as being a blogger.
When one undertakes blogging in the food world, one becomes a food blogger, which is a different entity all to itself. The writing is only part of the challenge. The rest is a game of hustle, hustle, hustle. A food blogger cooks constantly. A food blogger takes great photos, graduating from an iPhone to a fancy camera with accessories to help them manage light. A food blogger is hip to the latest trends – first it was vegan, then it was paleo, and now we’re putting quinoa in everything. Everything. A food blogger is aggressive, posting daily, new recipes all the time, and keeping an active, growing social media presence. A food blogger tests and re-tests recipes, tweaking and personalizing and getting them exactly right.
They have to. There’s about a million food bloggers (exaggeration, but still), and all of them are trying to be heard. If you don’t hustle, you get trampled and flattened into the flour-dusted kitchen floor of the food blogging world.
I wrote a blog about food and writing. The food took the front seat, and I spent a lot of time trying to be a food blogger. Not writing a food blog. Being a food blogger. There’s a difference.
And the trouble with it is that I failed at being a food blogger. I’m not looking for sympathy or an “Awww, honey…” on this one. I’m not a food blogger. Not in the traditional sense. Not in keeping with the standards set by the dozens of food bloggers filling my Facebook news feed right now.
Once I forgot my blogging anniversary, I began to think, okay, what is my blog these days? Since starting the blog, I’ve gotten a couple years of teaching experience under my belt. I’ve made it into my late-twenties, which are far superior to my early-twenties. I fell in love and got married. I moved across the country. I have learned a bit more about my own strength. I began writing a book; I have made progress with writing a book.
Since starting the blog, I’ve grown a lot. But has my blog?
When I’m honest, I have to say no, not really.
Identity is funny. Writing a food blog is something you do; being a food blogger is something you are. It took me forever to be able to tell people that I’m a writer. Even now, when I introduce myself to people and they ask me what I do, I get nervous when I answer, “I’m a writer.” How do you explain it? How do you tell them what your typical day looks like? Food blogger was actually an easier label to wear. It’s familiar. It’s easy to explain – I cook, I photograph, I eat, I write, I repeat.
But the thing is, my little blog here doesn’t operate like a food blog. It doesn’t operate like a blog strictly about writing either. That was intentional, to mirror my split focus between food and writing, and to watch the ways these two passions fuse together in surprising and not-so-surprising ways.
I’ve grown. My blog hasn’t. My blog is still trying to be a food blog. I’m still trying to be a food blogger. But that’s not organic to me. It’s not organic for the blog.
So what do I do now? I keep blogging. I keep cooking. But I back out of this parking spot I’ve been sitting in, I drive down the road a bit, and I pull off in a less crowded place. I park at a new angle. I’m a short drive from the Pacific Coast Highway, and believe me when I say that there’s a vast difference between pulling into a parking lot, paying $10 to park there, and lining up in little rows with all the other cars adjacent to a Port-a-potty; and pulling off to the side of the road along the shoreline, pointing the nose of the car towards the horizon, and enjoying the view in solitude, the quiet that comes with a few less people, the crash of waves, the spray of water hitting the rocks below.
I forgot my anniversary, and it sent me off into a blog-sistential crisis. We always want to think that a crisis has to be a bad thing. When I told a few people my feelings of crisis over the blog, they tried to reassure me; they encouraged me not to give up; to give it time. They didn’t understand that when I say crisis, I mean it as a good thing. I mean it as the impetus for reflection and adjustment and newness.
Whisks & Words is a blog about a writer who cooks. Not a cook who writes. Not a food blogger writing a novel. It’s a blog about a writer who cooks. It’s a blog about a writer. I’m the writer. That’s the spot I’m choosing to park in. That’s the horizon I’m pointing towards. That’s my view.