January 27, 2011

Will Write for Food

I'm too old to be using words like semester, but use them I will. Last semester I enrolled in a food writing class, and it was one of the most enjoyable classes I’ve ever taken (next to nutrition). Granted, I did not appreciate my schooling in my younger years. School was just something I did, relatively thoughtlessly. Now, however, I see the value of an education, and I want another go at it, so I'm taking a few prerequisite classes before applying to grad school.

Though the food writing class was not a prerequisite, it is my ultimate goal, and when my amazing nutrition teacher recommended it, I couldn't resist. I had so much fun in that class that I was disappointed when it ended. My food writing teacher, a former food editor for the Houston Chronicle, recommended the book Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob, which I am learning so much from. DJ showed me that I don’t have to stop writing about food just because class is over. Hence, here we are together.

As a recovering English major, it is fascinating to discover all the incredibly useful information that one can learn in a class or a book. That’s not to say I didn’t learn anything at UT Austin. I love that school, but reading Shakespeare and taking a Jane Austen seminar don’t really provide one with the most practical skills. I can tell you that Jane Austen is even funnier than you think. (You do think she’s funny, right?) When she wrote about a certain type of carriage that a pompous character boasted about, it was equivalent to her character bragging about owning a cherry red Porcshe convertible. There’s probably a pretty small group of people that would get me anywhere with. I should’ve taken the advice from a fellow student one semester written on the huge sheets of paper laid out on tables surrounding the library before enrollment each semester (oh, the days before the internet) under the English Department section: “CHANGE YOUR MAJOR! YOU WON’T GET A JOB! I KNOW!” Slightly alarming, but I really liked reading books as homework. Seriously, can there be better homework than reading literature? I think not.

As for getting a job, I did get one eventually, thank you very much. And then lost it (damn you, dot com crash). Then got another one. Then lost it (bad economy). Then got one again, which somehow I still have after a shockingly long time (based on my initial experiences, I should've been laid off like eight more times by now). Those first two jobs got me off to a bit of a rocky start coming out of college, which is a story for another day, but now I've been editing for a ginormous Fortune 500 company for nine years. That's a long time and a lot of boring reading. Just imagine if I had been reading something practical or at least interesting all this time (instead of about computers, which is not where my interest lies). I can’t say that the advice scrawled in marker across that table was the worst I've ever read.

So back to school I go, now that I’ve finally found something that fascinates me and has a practical application. It’s about time I learn something practical. So up next: chemistry. Hush your mouth. I’ve already heard how hard it is. And get ready. I plan on sharing all the interesting stuff I learn with YOU. How does chemistry relate to writing? All shall be revealed. Just not in this post.

Good advice, that’s what I want, and I’m getting loads of it from Dianne Jacob. Awesome book. You may thank her (or curse her, depending on your opinion) for me starting this blog. She recommends blogs for those interested in food writing, and provides very helpful advice about how to get started. She also writes about freelancing, cookbooks, reviews, memoirs, and so on. Will Write for Food is an easy and fascinating read, and if you’re at all interested in learning about food writing, I highly recommend it.

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