When I was young my mother kept telling me I should be a writer. I suspect this was motivated more by my aptitude for English and spelling than because she sensed the flowering of some innate literary genius. Anyway I told her it would be impossible because I couldn’t write dialogue and had no idea how to get people to do things in a story. And it was easier just to read.
A few years ago, I thought I might give it a go after all, based on the reasoning that there were millions of books in the world written by millions of writers, so how hard could it be? Visions of rocketing to the top of the best-seller list with the unexpurgated confessional of the dating life of an older woman galvanised me for a while, until I thought better of it. Like many aspiring writers, I then set off down the deceptively easy path of short story writing and produced some stuff that I cringed to read even as I wrote it. However I persevered and enrolled in a Masters of Creative Writing, which I completed a year or so ago. I’d like to say that made me into a writer, but although I improved, the main thing I learned was that you never really get there. There’s no ultimate destination, no pinnacle you reach where you can sit back and say, “now I’m a good writer”. You just keep doing it.
In regard to blogging, my first attempt was quite a few years ago. It was called “The Annals of Annabelle” and took the form of a latter day bildungsroman in which the aforementioned dating confessions featured occasionally, along with anything else that took my fancy. It was fun, a way of figuring out the vagaries of life, and I didn’t care whether anyone read it or anything came of it. When life changed, it petered out for a while and then a couple of years ago I revived it as “The All New Annals of Annabelle”. This one limped along for a year or so but eventually collapsed under the pressure of my Masters degree commitments. Late last year I came to the conclusion that I should either get serious about blogging or forget it. In a moment of revelation I realised that if I focused on something I was passionate about (like food, eating and cooking) that might generate sufficient motivation to get the blogging juices flowing again. Along the way I discovered Adelaide Uni offered a Graduate Certificate in Food Writing and, conveniently forgetting my vow never to take up a textbook again, I enrolled. June 2014 saw the successful completion of that project and now I’m free to forge ahead as a fully qualified food writer, a prospect about which I’m pretty excited.
My goal is to make sure Epicurean Epistles thrives on a diet of insightful, entertaining and diverting posts, while working on getting articles published in whatever form of media seems a good fit. Having spent several years attempting to learn the art of story writing, I still have a soft spot for fiction, which I indulge every now and then by having a stab at a short story, and I plan to continue that. So from inauspicious beginnings, I’ve now set myself a challenging schedule of writing every day, promoting my blog and transforming my computer’s voluminous folder of potential articles into published ones.
My cooking career began as inauspiciously as did the writing one. From having to look up a recipe to cook scrambled eggs as a child bride of 19, I’ve come a long way – in years if not in skill. Largely self-taught, I’ve developed a love of cooking that even in the face of regular disasters, keeps me happily occupied in the kitchen for many hours.
Over the years I’ve taken a few cookery courses in such things as easy Cordon Bleu (an oxymoron if ever there was one), Greek, Thai and other national cuisines, and one memorable one in food and wine appreciation, in which I can’t recall ever getting to the food part of the curriculum.
Along the way I had a stint as chef in a restaurant in Tasmania which would have made a fortune at the box office as the movie “Carry On Chef”. When I wasn’t whipping up chicken liver paté, steak and kidney pie or steak Diane, I was hauling the crazed dog we had at the time out of the local craft shop where he had a predilection for pilfering balls of wool and taking off down the street with them. Lots of time was also spent cleaning the toilet, or dripping sweat all over the grill while fuming at my then partner who, in his role of “front of house”, spent all his time swanning around giving complimentary glasses of port to attractive female patrons.
These days, although I try to cook fresh, healthy food, I make far too many cakes, biscuits and desserts than are good for me or the rest of the family (although the dogs were pretty pleased about the peanut butter dog biscuits I whipped up for them recently). I love trying new recipes and experimenting with changing existing ones, not always successfully. Much like writing however, cooking is a matter of trial and error and forging ahead fearlessly despite the risk of failure.
As for the rest of it, I live in Adelaide, South Australia with my husband and two dogs, Fergus a Border Terrier, and Lotti an Irish Setter. Our children are all grown now and far from the nest, so it’s just us and the dogs. We keep trying to convince the dogs it’s our house as much as theirs, but I’m not sure why we bother.
Apart from the writing and cooking (which although absorbing aren’t especially lucrative at this stage), I also work part-time in Local Government in corporate communications. Work is only five minutes walking distance from home so it’s an easily navigated arrangement and it’s good to retain a balance between slogging away in glorious isolation (which is the lot of writers everywhere and cooks too, for that matter) and having the company of workmates.
In addition to extolling the delights of food and eating, I see Epicurean Epistles as a platform for promoting causes I’m passionate about. In particular I like to spread the word about South Australia’s fine food, wine, travel destinations, farmers markets and food producers. We have such a wealth of unique assets in these areas, we need to make the absolute most of them. As well, I’m a passionate advocate for animal welfare, support several animal welfare organisations and promote their campaigns on social media. Factory farming, in my view, is the scourge of our modern industrialised food production system and I try to advance the cause of those who are working to oppose it. It worries me that in an age where many of us seem to be increasingly health conscious and fixated on diets, the obesity epidemic shows no sign of waning. I’m keen to learn more about issues related to health and nutrition and how we as consumers can influence the market. Good food is a commodity everyone is entitled to but many can’t access. Conflicting and contradictory information about food, nutrition, and diet related disease abounds, much of which is manipulated by those with vested interests. When commercial gain is pursued at the cost of human health, ultimately everyone suffers.
There doesn’t seem much that individuals can do in the face of what’s been called “the power of wilful ignorance”, but if there’s a chance unbiased communication of the facts can make a difference, anyone who writes owes it to society to have a go. This is my “go” so I hope you find some interesting reading. And if you do, I would love your feedback. Comments, responses and any sign that someone is out there are the stuff of life to us bloggers. So please drop by and say hello.
by Anne Green