On my way home from errands yesterday, as I debated what I really wanted to write, what direction I was headed in, where I wanted Daily Blender to go, I ended up behind a car that had a bumper sticker that spoke to me (as sometimes bumper stickers do). It said “Never apologize for your art.” After a few recent unfriendly comments, the message really resonated with me, and I realized it was time to take Daily Blender somewhere else.
When I started writing for DB, it was owned by a larger blog entity. DB was their chosen name for the food site buried within their business channel, so when I began as a writer, I wanted to develop the content to appeal to both food lovers and business insiders. Though I’ve kept a number of personal blogs over the years, I wasn’t sure how to develop a food and business blog in a tone that would actually appeal to the network’s readers. Thus, I began to link to food-related news and feature articles around the web, offering bits and pieces of my opinion, but focusing mainly on delivering the news without fluff.
When I took over ownership of DB last February, after a redesign and reshuffling of goals, I was able to grow the readership by 400% in only a few short months, offering coverage of food and wine events, exclusive interviews with culinary leaders, and a smattering of news info each week. While I’ve enjoyed noting the news items I find interesting within the food world, I haven’t used my own voice as much I’d like.
Which leads me to the unfriendly comments. When I cover events and meetings with chefs, I don’t write them as a reporter, I write them as a writer – and there’s a difference. I try to adhere to reporter-like guidelines, but overall, I’m just telling the story. That doesn’t mean I’m trying to sell a cookbook or a deep-fryer or even a restaurant somewhere in California. I’m simply writing about my experiences.
Furthermore, I don’t need to follow a list of someone else’s food blog ethics because I abide by my own ethics, both on-and-offline. These experiences, the opportunities that I’ve had with Daily Blender, are one-in-a-million, from noshing on beach bites with my favorite chefs to sharing a booth and a coffee with someone who has more awards on their shelf than I’ll ever see, and I want to share those moments with anyone who’s interested in reading them.
Which leads me back to WWTD – or What Would Tony Do?
When I met Anthony Bourdain for the first time, he was appearing with the revered Ferran Adria at the New York Wine & Food Festival. But as a food newbie, I didn’t know who Adria was. I was only interested in meeting Tony.
He arrived with his beautiful wife in tow, and I waited patiently next to my mom to find if we had made it to the top of the waiting list. After the lecture room had filled, we acquired the last two tickets, sliding into the last row just as Adria’s translator began to speak. It was a fascinating lecture, as I learned about Ferran’s way of cooking and the famed El Bulli, but still, I was most excited to see Bourdain. Not Bourdain the chef or television personality, but Bourdain the writer.
My excitement only escalated as I made a beeline for the front of the autograph line when the session ended and I stood feet away from a man who’s written words were expressive and unabashed and spoke to the catering owner in me. I was so focused that after he graciously signed my copy of his Nasty Bits, and I held it tightly to my chest, protecting it from anyone who might try to rip it from my grateful hands, I walked completely past Ferran Adria and out the door.
When I met Tony again in the Caymans, it brought me back full circle, reminding me of what’s really inspired me to pursue my writing, putting my focus back on where I want to be, who I want to be, and why I want to talk about my adventures. It reminded me of how much I admire his ability to stay true to his own voice, whether everyone agrees with it or not.
Above all, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Not necessarily a food writer, just a writer who tells her stories – and I have many. So as I steer Daily Blender in a different direction, the readership will ebb and flow, and numbers may drop or grow, but I will focus more on my stories – as related to food, of course – and less on someone else’s stories. I will honorably accept invitations and drinks and meals, and I will write about them. I will cover food newsbits and try not to make mistakes. I am here because this is what I love to do. It is my site, and I will do with it what I will. And if you end up not being a fan, I’m ok with that. Feel free to move on.
I’m not apologizing for my art.