Cooking for me is a truly enjoyable and creative pastime. When I’m not tuned into my iPod, either listening to a book, or trying to keep from chopping off my fingers while dancing to Van Morrison, I often find myself separating eggs or stirring white sauce while composing bits and pieces of stories and blog posts in my head. I did a lot of cooking over Christmas, and two separate, but similarly-themed posts took root during this period. They both centered around blogging.
The first post was one in which I was embracing the reader in me. My reader, who is really nothing more than a sneaky, voyeuristic writer in disguise, is one who can’t seem to read anything without having one of three thoughts: a. that was absolutely horrible. Why did I waste my time with it? Certainly, I could easily have taken that [story, point, theme, etc.] and written something so much better. b. This is a good thing to read, because there’s absolutely no way on earth I’d ever attempt to write something like this, and it’s so awe-inspiring. and c. I think I’ll go kill myself now. This is exactly the sort of thing I’d like to write, but this author is so far superior in every way that my measly little attempts ought to be used for nothing more than lining the bottom of the litter box. Here are some prime examples to help you understand what I mean: a. Jackie Collins and Michael Crichton b. Leo Tolstoy and Margaret Atwood. c. David Sedaris and Susan Jane Gilman.
I don’t really like being this sort of a reader. Besides being extremely narcissistic, it can somewhat dampen the enjoyment of reading. However, if I can embrace it, perhaps I can rein it in and move past it, or at least stick it in some fenced-in area somewhere that it isn’t so likely to go galloping wildly about, leaving hoof prints and ripped pages between the covers of my books.
I’m not doing a very good job of reining it in, though. As a matter of fact, it’s found a new field in which to run and muck about: the blogosphere. If you take a look at the links on my blog, each and every one that is another blog, falls into one of these reading categories. Those that fall into the “a” category are the ones that are noticeably absent. These would be things like celebrity blogs, certain political blogs, and certainly many religious blogs. I waste enough time blogging. No need to waste my time with these.
So, now we get to the Tolstoys and the Atwoods of my links. I can happily read blogs like Book World, The Hobgoblin of Little Minds, Loose Baggy Monster, Tales from the Reading Room, Cam’s Commentary, Striped Armchair, The Library Ladder, Of Books and Bicycles, and So Many Books, because all of those authors are extraordinarily well-read and are doing things that I’m not attempting to do: writing extremely eloquently about books (or books and bicycling). Sometimes they write about other things (and sometimes I write about books), but for the most part they are literary critics and book reviewers, and I am not. Charlotte’s Web and Bloglily both fall into a sort of “iffy” category, but I will pretend I can happily read them, because they write about cooking (well, with the exception of today) and baking and being a mother, as well as their own eloquent thoughts on books, and I’m not writing about those things, either. Jew Eat Yet is what I would want to write if I knew half as much about the Jewish faith and culture or about film and other areas of pop culture, but I don’t, so it’s another one that can be happily read and enjoyed, knowing I’d never attempt to create such a blog. The Havens is mostly about gardening, and I’m a complete brown thumb, so I can enjoy reading her and sometimes wish she would come create a beautiful garden for me, but again, I would never try to write about gardening, not even my own disastrous attempts at it. She says to “come in and rest a while,” and I most certainly do. Mandarine is also in a category of his own, a scientist and (as I once noted) 21st-century Renaissance man, and reading his blog is very much like browsing through some of my favorite nonfiction sections of the library where I would never dream of trying to have a book of my own. Marissa’s blog is something different, as well: it’s more a reflection of her as a photographer, marking significant events in her life and enjoying her family and friends, not as a writer.
But now we come to the David Sedarises and the Susan Jane Gilmans, those who are doing exactly what I want to do and who make me feel, on a regular basis, that I ought just to close down this little blog and do nothing but spend time with them. These would be, Everything Inbetween (which is really The Public, The Private, and Everything Inbetween), Ian’s Blog, Make Tea Not War, Feminine Feminist, Froshty Mugs (well, when those two actually write), Musings from the Sofa, QC Report, and the Alternate Side Parking Reader. They’re funny. They’re ironic. They see the world the way I do (especially, for some reason, Ian and Froshty), and they are so damn talented at putting words together to describe that world.
The second post I composed while mashing potatoes, making gravy, and checking on the Yorkshire pudding was one in which I was thinking about my part in the blogosphere. It was all about my feeling so lucky to be hanging out with all these talented writers out here, wondering how I’ve managed to fall into this world and have been so accepted. I was comparing myself to someone who might have sat at places like the Algonquin Round Table as just some welcomed non-writer, someone’s little sister, maybe, living vicariously through all that talent. Or maybe I’m like Mrs. Strickland in Somerset Maugham’s The Moon and Sixpence, which I’ve been reading. When asked by one novelist (worried he ought to know and doesn’t) of another novelist who Mrs. Strickland is, the other novelist says, “She gives luncheon parties. You only have to roar a little, and she’ll ask you.” (Maugham, W. S., The Moon and Sixpence, New York: The Modern Library, 1919, p. 22). Am I the one “giving luncheon parties to a bunch of artists?”
This was all before New Year’s Day. Then New Year’s Day arrived, and what did I do? I checked Cam’s Commentary to discover that not only did someone list my blog as a daily read in her survey of favorites but actually included me in the same sentence as QC Report. Well, to tell you that this alone would have convinced me that 2008 is going to be a much better year than 2007 would be the absolute truth. But then, later in the day, I happened to wander over to Litlove’s new blog The Best of New Writing on the Web and was completely awed to discover I’d made it into this very first issue. I’d say 2008 is going to be a banner year with this sort of a start! So, maybe I’m the one everyone’s coming to sit with at the round table, and maybe my luncheons are so popular because people just can’t get enough of me? I find that hard to believe, but I do want to say thank you so very much to whomever it was who nominated and voted for me for these two humbling spots.