Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Book before the Blog

I normally don't write these kind of posts. I like to just put up pictures of food that I make and then eat. I like to write about what I like about that food and share tips about ingredients, techniques and other nerdy food science stuff. I like doing all of those things.

Maybe you'll find inspiration in that. I don't know. I find inspiration from every little thing around me and it can happen at any time. I think that's the most fun part about life!

But, today I'm going to write something that's not about chocolate fudge brownies or flaky homemade pop tarts. Although man I wish I had some of that and that right now!

This will also probably be the longest post I've ever made. Promise.

I've recently noticed the flood of articles being written about the reality of being a food writer, bloggers turned authors, and people struggling to be the next big thing or achieve a bazillion facebook fans.

Most of them are sort of downers and dream crushers. They tell you how the salaries have declined in food writing, how difficult it is to get started, it's too late to get popular and the money is spread so thin, etc.

A lot of it is all true and very useful information. I mean...let's be honest with ourselves... everyone and their pet hamster has a blog nowadays. Why not?

I thought it was maybe a good time to clarify something...

I do not consider myself a food writer because I write a blog. 

I am a Food Scientist. I studied very hard and very long for that.

I also happen to be a brand new author. I wrote a sciencey cookbook. It's something I'm crazy excited about and very proud of - I made it to share all of my bottled up brownie secrets, banging recipes and other food knowledge. I needed to let you know that I found out exactly how to get that shiny, wrinkly, crinkly top on your brownies every single time! It's called Scientifically Sweet and I named this blog after the book...because that is indeed what this blog is about too. Science and sweets.

I started this blog barely 2 years ago just because I get really excited when I bake something so good that I need to force it down people's throats. I just want everyone to know about it, taste it, experience it and enjoy it as much as I do! Ask my husband....he's so sick of me.

Everyday it's "Want a cookie? These ones are sooooo good"

"How about a piece of cake? It's got like 7 ounces of chocolate it in it!"

It's so aggressive that he actually sighs when I offer him sweets - as if it's work to eat it.

I'm just downright obsessed with baking and I always have been. This surge and popularity of food blogs has not driven that. The fire was always there. You can read all about it in my introduction - how my Nonna pretty much accused me of being anorexic if I asked for a glass of water instead of juice. Food Food FOOD! It was a big part of my upbringing.

I actually started writing my book before I even knew that food blogs existed. I was away in Europe doing my Masters when the fad began and I was so involved in my studies that I really didn't even notice it. My time on the internet was spent browsing journal articles about polyphenols in red wine and astringency rather than gawking at all of the gorgeous dishes that people create each day and put out there for us to drool at.

When I came back to Canada I began working in the food industry as a Product Developer for a while before I moved to the big city and decided to really buckle down and dedicate myself full-time to my book.

For a few months when I was working in R&D (Research & Development), I actually vended at the local farmer's market as well. My schedule was crazy and I barely ever had time to sit down. I would walk to and from work (45 minutes/way) in 2 feet of snow or under the sunny sky. It didn't matter.

Hold up - I just realized that I sounded like a grannie right there. Except grannies had to walk some 5 or 6 km to work...

After getting home from my regular 8-4 shift I would immediately start baking in preparation for the market. I'd usually finish around 10 pm....almost too tired to shower my seriously sweaty body. After having the oven on for 4 hours in the blistering heat of summer while kneading bread by hand for 10 minutes at a time and wearing a hair net, you could imagine how crazy I looked. The friday night before the market I would usually be awake until around 2 am, individually wrapping caramels and packaging cookies and scones.

I'd awake around 6 am, head to the market and get set up. The next 7 hours were spent on my feet hoping that people would come around and taste my goods. I ended up getting a lot of regular customers who were rather sad to see me leave when I decided to move. 

Anyway...I did as much as I could to get experience and inspiration. But the book. Oh the BOOK! It was something I had wanted since I was about 14 and I still couldn't stop thinking about it.

Now, years later, I finally made it happen and I used my blog to keep me inspired. I sacrificed a lot for it, including a salary. I mean.... it really became my full-time (unpaid) job but that didn't bother me. 

I was happy. I love baking and I loved making the cookbook. I have so much knowledge that I want to share with everyone else who forgets all of their stress when they pick up a wooden spoon and a bowl of batter. 

This blog did not drive the book. My book drove this blog. I love each and every recipe in there and I still use it in my own kitchen. My draft copy is actually covered in chocolate splatter because I use it so much.

I carry on this blog for fun because I enjoy it. I'm not keeping this going because I want to become the next best food blogger or blogger turned cookbook author (I am a food scientist and baker who wrote a book about what she knows best. Just like anyone else who decides to write a book). Most of all...the book came first.

I guess my point is... I don't really know. No, I'm kidding! Ok, I guess I pretty much just really want you to know how honestly passionate I am about my book and that I really could care less about profit. Anyone who has written a book knows you don't do it to get rich. I really don't do it to get even slightly comfortable. I did it because I couldn't be totally happy until I did. My thoughts and ideas gnawed at the corner of my brain until I spilled it all out on paper in words and photographs. It's called an obsession. A really tasty obsession.

If my tiny mom was the only one to ever read and enjoy my book, I'd be content with that. Ok, no that's a total lie because she's biased. So, I'd be more happy if you read it, baked it out and learned from it. That would make me thrilled.

What's important is that we all do what we love because we want to do it and who really cares about what anyone thinks of it? Advice is great....take it, think about it...but in the end just do what makes you happy and feels amazing. 

Live within your means and find out what makes you so cool. Because you are cool, you are creative and you really can do anything you want...unless you want to fly to Mars. You might need some heavy cash to make that happen. And unless you want to rob a bank....I don't condone that.

Most importantly, do not compare yourself to others. I know it's hard. I still catch myself doing it. It is really difficult not to, especially when you admire that person. Just remember that you are you and that is good enough. You are different and there is value in that.

It doesn't matter if you have 100 followers or 100,000. Don't let it get to you.

Your strength and success shows in your work and daily life - not a number that can be changed by a click of a mouse. 

Love, Peace & Chocolate.

xo Christina.
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