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Tripe Soup, by Jennifer Brizzi
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Taste Your Own Tongue
Topic: food writing biz
If you want to be a food writer, there are three things you need to do, and none of them has much to do with food.

The first thing is just to be a writer. Forget about the food for now; that part will come naturally. If you truly love food, it will infuse everything you write.

To Be A Writer is a fine idea, like wanting to be a teacher so you can have summers off but forgetting about squabbles with administration or brats hurling blunt objects at the back of your head. To Be a Writer sounds like sitting at a desk all day dressed in PJs, sweats or nothing at all. To Be a Writer makes you imagine a long snaking line of people all gazing at you with abject adoration as they approach the table where you sit signing book after book until your hand cramps pleasantly.

But To Be a Writer actually means writing. And if you have always scribbled words on paper and banged computer keyboards, you are already a writer. If you have always had to write--rather than chose to write or wanted to write--and just could not keep yourself from doing it, if you are hopelessly addicted to writing, you are already a writer.

So keep writing. Anything: great literature, newspaper articles, how-to manuals, potentially prize-winning essays, journal entries, a blog, short stories or just witty, pithy e-mails to people who love you. Just write. Every bit of practice does you good.

And another thing. Read. Read not to emulate other writers, but rather to inspire yourself with the joy of words, and especially to stoke the fire of your lust for words. If you don't love reading, if you wouldn't rather read than just about anything else, maybe your love for words and the way they blend and simmer is not quite fervent enough to spend days molding them to sound like the thoughts in your brain, only better.

The last requirement for being a food writer is to follow your own tastes, not what's trendy or popular but what you love. If creating recipes for low fat vegetarian dishes gets you going, do that. If it's discovering what makes people tick, then follow around wildly popular chefs and crab fisherpersons and microgreen farmers and make your reader really get to know them. Or if you love how sexy food can be, or if strange foods from the other side of the planet stimulate your sense of adventure, write about that.

See food through your own eyes, taste it with your own tongue. Seize the aspect of it that excites you the most and let that thrill spill out onto the pages of what you write.

Posted by Jennifer Brizzi at 10:33 AM EST
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