Today we are going to shake it up with a little something out of the ordinary…
Our Lady of Second Helpings is participating in the “My Writing Process Blog Tour.” The tour is a way for bloggers to pull back the curtain and share how and why we do what we do. All the participants have agreed to answer the same four questions and introduce some of their own favorite blogs. Follow the links to the other blogs on the tour, it’s a virtual trail of bread crumbs that will lead you to work by extremely talented, thoughtful, and creative folks.
Before I get into my process I would like to thank Jane Bonacci of The Heritage Cook for inviting me into this exchange. Not only is she a fellow redheaded Gemini, Jane is a genuinely beautiful person with a heart of gold. I am tickled to death that I can call her a friend both on and off the web. When I met Jane last year in Austin, at Blogher’s annual Food Blogger conference, we hit it off immediately. Our friendship was solidified this spring when we spent the weekend sharing personal stories and belly laughs at The Big Traveling Potluck in picture perfect Murrieta, California.
You’ve got to check out Jane’s blog! She is a bold cook with a passion for teaching her craft to those who might be intimidated by recipes that appear complex at first glance. She also provides her recipes with instructions for traditional and gluten free ingredients. Jane’s biggest claim to fame may be her long running series, Chocolate Mondays. Talk about starting the week off on a good note! Her extremely popular Brownie Cookies have even made their way on to this blog. I love these chocolate on chocolate on chocolate cookies but if you make them, plan to share!
My Writing Process:
1) What am I working on? Currently I am trying to sort through a back log of ideas. I have a number of summery recipes in the queue waiting to be typed up and have their photographs edited. I also have a few non-recipe posts that I would like to find time to put together while they are still timely. You may have noticed an increase in posts with disclaimers. I figure, since I write about our family’s approach to weight loss and wellness, it makes sense to share some of the specific products we use or places we visit that help us strike a healthy balance. I am constantly trying to decode the mysterious world of social media. Last week I gave Google+ a bit more of my attention. If you are a lover of Google+ I would love to hear your newbie tips!
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? The media is overwhelmed by diet and weight loss gurus. Weight loss is a multi-billion if not trillion dollar market. I’m not out to sell you my secrets (eat less, move more) or fill your recipe book with the lowest calorie, fat free, reduced sugar everything (I call them vegetables). Yes, those things are part of my world but I want to help people see beyond the plate, beyond the gym, to a world where cooking is a paint box of color, and working out is as much about running through the sprinkler as it is pounding out the miles on a treadmill. I want to encourage you to ask questions, lots of questions, about your health, your food, your environment, and become familiar with how to nourish your body, your mind, and your spirit. I want to spark the seeds of self-confidence and give you a little shove out of your comfort zone and into a world that is just a little bigger and when you get comfortable there I want to do it again! I am not here to push you into losing weight, my goal is give you tools to walk your own path to living in a healthy body. I want to take failure off the table and show you that success lies in never ceasing to move forward even when you have to drop to your knees to keep going.
3) Why do I write what I do? In short, I want people to feel as great as I do. I began Our Lady of Second Helpings following the encouragement of friends and professional contacts in the world of health and wellness. My mission is to share how Mr. Second Helpings and I lost an extreme amount of weight with out giving our lives a sudden and dramatic make-over. I am passionate that our approach of layering small changes into our daily life helped us achieve substantial and sustainable weight loss. I see people living in the pain and discomfort of ill health and hope that some part of our story will resonate and help begin the process of taking baby steps. The changes we have made have enriched our lives in ways we could not imagine when we started. Lifestyle diseases claim thousands of lives everyday, now that I know change is possible I can not sit quietly by and watch people die. It is my hope that if I keep talking our story will reach those in need of hope and provide practical tools to get started on the road to living vibrantly.
4) How does your writing process work? When I read this question my first reaction was a big snorting laugh. I don’t really think of myself as having a process. I find inspiration for posts in the grocery store, on television, while eaves dropping on conversations in restaurants or in parks, and many times just by playing with ingredients. I tend to vacillate between painting my world in big broad strokes and teasing out fussy details.
I have a little notebook where I jot down vague ideas, notes from events, a word or phrase that someone has said, and most importantly recipes. I roll ideas around in my head for days or weeks mentally combining ingredients and picturing how they will work together. I take notes while I am cooking even if I don’t intend to blog a recipe in the near future or ever. The notes are helpful reminders of what worked and what didn’t turn out the way I expected.
There is usually a camera, either iPhone or DSLR, nearby at all times. If something strikes me as interesting I’ll take a few shots. Images are my visual short hand. Often I have a kernel of an idea that I would love to expand and explore in a longer format but I know I just don’t have time to tackle every project. I love to post little moments to Instagram and Facebook. I consider social media an extension of the blog,where things are less formal and a little more like my everyday life.
I do most of my writing during baby nap times. When I am really in a groove I lose touch with everything but the words on the screen. I love those moments when my brain is popping and my thoughts flow freely. I come away feeling energized. Often flip back and forth between editing photos and typing a recipe. The photographs help me tune into my feelings about the food and the information I want to share about the ingredients. Sometimes the story comes first, if a particular recipe gives me a shove down memory lane I tend to explore that idea and then craft the rest of the post.
Recipe writing is not the same as the narrative. I use a completely different part of my brain to do the technical writing that goes into each recipe. I have a tendency to ramble in my narratives but I try to keep things tight and straight forward when you get to the recipe. I want you to try these foods and even when there is a longer list of ingredients or more than four steps I hope the instructions look approachable.
Next on the Tour!
Next Monday be sure to visit Lyndsey Wells at The Stationary Place where she talks about all sorts of fun paper-related ideas. She finds the best places to source note cards, invitations, announcements, gift tags, letter press, and paper crafts and more. Lyndsey is also the founder of Seattle Bloggers Unite! This active networking and support group is open to all bloggers in the Seattle area and it is how I met Lyndsey and many other local bloggers. If you are a Seattle blogger check out the Seattle Bloggers Unite Facebook page where we ask questions, swap experiences , share opportunities, and occasionally tear ourselves away from the internet and meet each other out in the real world.
I also invited Karista of Karista’s Kitchen but she already committed to be part of another leg of the tour and her post is live today. Karista and I met a couple years ago when we each prepared dishes on KCTS Cooks. She is a trained chef, caterer, culinary instructor, food writer and photographer. Her passion for food shines right off the computer screen. Shortly after we met I was delighted to discover we share a love of cardamom (try her fresh pear and cardamom muffins – I have, at least three times). Karista is also the one who introduced me to Farmstr! You can jump over to her site today to read how she approaches this crazy little thing called a blog.
I hope you have enjoyed this peak behind the scenes of Our Lady of Second Helpings. Please be sure to visit the other blogs on the tour. You might learn so much about blogging that to decide to try it yourself!