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The old author as new blogger

August 18th, 2010 by Cocolat

My 8th book, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Cookies, will be out this fall. I'm excited to be finished with it. Now it's been "suggested" (didn't I put that delicately?) that the best way to celebrate the completion of a new book is to blog about it.

What a surprise to learn that starting a blog is more intimidating than writing a book. It’s immediate. Where is the editor to prevent one from making a fool of oneself or committing atrocious grammar? The spontaneity goes against my nature, which is to write (or test) and rewrite (or retest) and rewrite and retest again. To ease into it, I planned a little essay on the creative process. I love to hear any artist (writer, painter, dancer, musician, chef) discuss their work. Even the most mundane details of how they actually do the work has a voyeuristic fascination for me. National Public Radio is a staple in my kitchen. I love Terry Gross and City Arts and Lectures. I planned to cite Malcom Gladwell’s descriptions of artists and their work styles from his New Yorker piece, “Late Bloomers”.

But by the time I sat down to write that essay, I was overcome by my own process. All kitchen counters and the dining room table were covered with labeled samples. The actual work area was a landscape of drips, greasy spatulas, and bowls full of goop flanked by clipboards with handwritten notes coded to match (I hope) the labeled samples. I start a clipboard at the beginning of each project (book, magazine article, client) and after a while I move pages from the clipboard into a binder so I can put tabs on groups of pages to keep some order. I try to remember to date every page and I put the most recent page on top, like a legal brief. I used to be able to have three or four clipboards in play at one time. But lately not so much. After scribbling tasting notes on the wrong clipboard a few times, I refined my process. Now it’s one or possibly two clipboards at a time, and NPR stays on.

I have a reputation for testing. A lot. Anyone who has read or cooked from my books, Bittersweet or Pure Dessert knows this. I thought I was normal until Dianne Jacob described my testing mania in her book, Will Write for Food (a wonderful manual for budding food and cookbook writers, btw). Then I felt self-conscious. But, some times multiple trials are necessary to get flavor, texture, and visuals of a dessert right to begin with. Other times I retest because I’m stubborn or curious. Even when I like my results, I catch myself wondering what would happen if I made this little change, or that one. I love how small details make a difference. “What if this, what if that” is the hallmark of my process and perhaps my greatest professional and artistic asset and also my biggest liability. If I take more time on a recipe than I think I should, I figure it’s an investment for a future project. You can imagine where that leads…

Welcome to my blog, I promise recipes and photos (and shorter posts) in future, but meanwhile check out Malcolm Gladwell’s “Late Bloomers” to find out if you are more like Picasso or more like Matisse. http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/10/20/081020fa_fact_gladwell?printable=true

 

 
 
 
  • Posted in creative process, Malcolm Gladwell, npr, recipe testing, Terry Gross
  • 30 Comments
  • 30 Responses to “The old author as new blogger”

    1. August 18, 2010 at 8:09 pm, sara said:

      Oh Alice, you DID it!
      AS usual, I love reading you and love to follow your process. I look forward to many more amazing
      blogs ahead. But no mention of the ironing board!
      And please, not shorter………
      Have you seen the book yet……….I can’t wait!!!
      bisous,
      Sara

      Reply

    2. August 18, 2010 at 8:11 pm, annie said:

      Yay! Looking forward to reading more, and trying out the new recipes. Happy Blogging! 🙂

      Reply

    3. August 18, 2010 at 8:13 pm, Julie said:

      Wow, welcome to the foodblogosphere! I’m a fan, and so glad you chose to celebrate your new book this way. It is an interesting medium, and so immediate. I love the connections it allows, and the spontaneity, and creativity. I hope you have as much fun with it as I do!

      Reply

    4. August 18, 2010 at 8:18 pm, olga said:

      I love that you test so much. I’ve never had even a remote “meh” with any of your recipes. So thank you for testing to such a meticulous level!!

      Reply

    5. August 18, 2010 at 8:28 pm, Cooking Confections said:

      You are my hero and now a BLOG!!! wow – can’t wait to follow you. Happy Blogging, Sallie

      Reply

    6. August 18, 2010 at 8:47 pm, Alice Medrich said:

      Oh! Suddenly blogging seems like fun. Such lovely encouragement from the best people! I might even do it again.

      Reply

    7. August 18, 2010 at 9:01 pm, Jenny Richards said:

      Well, the word hit the street this afternoon that you were blogging, and as soon as I got a break from work I wanted to come over and congratulate you for making the leap! Hang in there – just like testing, you’ll find a rhythm that works for you.

      Reply

    8. August 18, 2010 at 9:02 pm, Deliciously Organic said:

      I’m so excited to see your new blog! I look forward to your posts!

      Reply

    9. August 18, 2010 at 9:07 pm, Jenny said:

      PS – I think you’ll find this is an enormously supportive (and vocal) community!

      Reply

    10. August 18, 2010 at 10:22 pm, Jeanne said:

      Welcome, welcome to the land of blogging!! So very glad you are here!!

      Reply

    11. August 18, 2010 at 11:38 pm, Joe said:

      Alice – A welcome surprise to see your site today! Welcome to the blogging world – I bet you are going to love the creative environment this platform has to offer!

      Reply

    12. August 19, 2010 at 1:13 am, jamromin said:

      Congratulations. It must be great to see yet another child emerge from the twin wombs of writing and cooking creativity. I know exactly what you mean about being out there on the blog without an editor. For my web pages, I’ve always had two servers, one for development and review and one for publishing the finished web pages. Our new system is live as you go. It’s very scary.

      Reply

    13. August 19, 2010 at 7:28 am, Sandy said:

      Great job! Congrats on your new book and your new blog,

      Reply

    14. August 19, 2010 at 3:18 pm, michaelprocopio said:

      Excellent news! I am so glad to see you finally bit the bullet and put up a blog.

      Well done. Now if we could just get you up and running on Twitter…

      Wishing you the best of luck,

      Michael

      Reply

    15. August 19, 2010 at 3:28 pm, louise_m said:

      Welcome to food blogging, Alice – I was so excited to see your post!
      I saw you cook a demonstration at Tante Marie’s in San Francisco several years ago, have a copy of Bittersweet and still swear by your recipes for brownies and cold creamy truffles.
      I hope you learn to enjoy the blogging process too – there are lots of bloggers who enjoy the process of test and test again 🙂 Looking forward to seeing the new book.

      Reply

    16. August 19, 2010 at 6:00 pm, sundevilpeg said:

      Alice –

      I literally just saw you on a rebroadcast of an ep of “Baking with Julia,” in which you and she made biscotti. Good stuff. I recall seeing you making an extraordinary cocolate/raspberry cake on that series, as well; thank God I have the accompanying cookbook!

      All the best,
      Peg Wolfe

      Reply

    17. August 19, 2010 at 8:04 pm, Jaime said:

      Sweet Alice,
      Trent told me today about your blog and I’m SO thrilled for you! Can’t wait to get my hands on this new book and having the blog is just the icing on the cake!
      xoxo, Jaime Harder Caldwell

      Reply

    18. August 19, 2010 at 11:55 pm, Drew @ How To Cook Like Your Grandmother said:

      Alice, I wish I could remember where I saw the link to your new blog so I could thank them for the pointer. The story of the truffles sounds like the ones my wife and I made when we decided we were going to start doing wedding favors.

      That ended up not working out, but a decade later I’m writing a food blog and have three books under my belt.

      Reply

    19. August 20, 2010 at 2:32 am, Traca said:

      Alice, I’m so excited to see you jumping into blogging! I can’t wait to see what unfolds. You end up having so many blog-worthy experiences and topics you want to cover, it can be overwhelming at times. Best advice? Set a schedule. It helps avoid “blogger guilt.” 🙂

      Reply

    20. August 22, 2010 at 12:35 am, Andrea Meyers said:

      Wonderful! So glad you started a blog and I’m looking forward to more stories about your process and book.

      Reply

    21. August 22, 2010 at 6:35 am, Amy said:

      Alice,

      Thank you for your recent class at Tante Marie’s. Your creations are incredible and you are a great teacher.

      I am so excited you started a blog!

      Cheers,

      Amy

      Reply

    22. August 22, 2010 at 7:08 am, Alice Medrich said:

      Thanks to all for the encouragement and warm welcome. Traca, I even forgive you for verbalizing this new concept of “Blogger guilt”. I was already thinking that if I were a cartoonish instead of a cook, I’d draw a Dickensian cartoon of BLOGGERS PRISON, where errant bloggers end up if they don’t meet their posting quotas for the month, or the week! Agh!

      Reply

    23. August 22, 2010 at 2:52 pm, Ria Mathew said:

      Yayy, Alice! Welcome to the blogosphere! Hope to see more stories and recipes and photos from you!

      Cheers!

      Reply

    24. August 22, 2010 at 5:07 pm, veron said:

      Can’t wait! Your baking books are always at the top of my list. I just made your brownies and pecan-nibby cookies the other day. 🙂

      Reply

    25. August 24, 2010 at 3:25 pm, kudzu said:

      I am so pleased to see this! I hope you come to finding pleasure in writing it, since we will all find pleasure in reading your words.

      Reply

    26. August 28, 2010 at 7:13 am, Mr. Jackhonky said:

      Count me as one of the many people who are pleased to see you blogging! I love to see the process, almost more than I love the final product. Your cookbooks are a joy to read and I look forward to reading more on your blog!

      Congrats!

      Reply

    27. August 29, 2010 at 7:27 am, Jon (Eric) Olson said:

      Alice! I was just relating to my wife a few stories of having met and worked with you (you may recall the Isle of Kokolat) – then I go online and find this! What a wonderful joy it is to see this blog! Welcome and may you enjoy the experience. I’m sure you will find it immensely rewarding. We readers will certainly be enriched by your unique, warm and immensely informed offerings.

      Reply

    28. September 25, 2010 at 9:05 pm, Faye Levy said:

      Hi Alice,

      Enjoyed reading your blog post very much. Have fun with the blog and good luck with the book.

      Reply

    29. September 28, 2010 at 5:03 am, Amie said:

      Are you going to have a book tour?

      Reply

    30. September 28, 2010 at 3:44 pm, Alice Medrich said:

      Book tour! Oh yes! I'll post it all on my facebook page (soon) but in brief, starting in November, I'll be in NYC, Nashville, Toronto, Minneapolis, Seattle…. In December I'll be all over Texas at Central Market Cooking Schools. I'll have several signings and appearances here in the SF area including Ramekins and Omnivore Books. Thanks for asking!

      Reply

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