At a conference for Foodbuzz publishers, a session on food writing with Brooke Burton (FoodWoolf), Linda Miller Nicholson (Salty Seattle), and Greg Henry (Sippity Sup) reminded me of lessons learned and forgotten long ago, replaced by a sea of awesomes, amazings, yummies, tasties, deliciouses, which is: Those words mean nothing to the those not simultaneously partaking in the experience.
We undertook several exercises, all which within one hour will have a lasting effect on my writing. (I’m putting this here in writing to stand by it!)
- Write an essay about one of the foods on the plate.
- I think this one was a minute or so to describe another food.
- Write a Tweet (140 characters or less) about one of the foods. This exercise was particularly instructive as we ended up writing haiku like verse, full of colorful words and thoughts, without those empty adjectives at our disposal. (Some writers from the class practice our new art on Twitter.)
Much like learning to draw – by doing with a childlike outlook – it takes complete letting go of self-editing, open floodgates, to let out a stream of thought like the following:
“A crumbling white bloom crusts the brie, still firm from its recent home in the hotel refrigerator, recalling a factory tour at Rouge et Noir, watching the white hair netted men slosh through curds and warm whey. Black and white cartons encasing the shiny white plastic wrapper. How unrefined this clumpy mild cheese with the faint ammonia scent strikes me today, a time filled with Cowgirls, Morbier, Brie de Meaux. Though now as the bright lights further soften the double cream mass – oh perhaps it’s my over-exposure to triple cream cheese that jades me to this poor cousin – a distant farminess meets butter comes through and softens me to my earlier harsh judgement of this faint yellow wedge, now smeared across my plate with small tufts dotting my fingertips. As if back in childhood I judiciously shove the firm crust to either side, diving into the creamy mound, now realizing – it’s like La Vache Qui Ri!”
This babble recalls my NaNoWriMo novel of several Novembers past (quantity over quality). Still, the writing process exhilarated me to raise the proverbial bar.
Any other tips?