foodblogSouth and why i blog
I went north this weekend, and I found the South. If you know Florida – and I’m pretty sure some of you are familiar with it – you probably also know that Florida is unusual. It doesn’t really fit into the South the way Georgia and Alabama do. Blame Miami or Orlando, but it really doesn’t matter. It’s a unique state, and I sort of like that.
I consider myself a southerner. I resisted it for a while, but the charms of southern culture have grown on me. Over the weekend, a group of food writers, stylists, photographers, and bloggers convened in Birmingham, Alabama, to embrace and celebrate all that is the South. foodblogSouth was the brainchild of Shaun Chavis and Jason Horn, with the dual purpose of bringing together food bloggers and raising money for the Desert Island Supply Company and the Alabama Gulf Coast Environmental Recovery Fund.
The conference was packed with sessions aimed at different levels of food bloggers, from novices to those of us that have been doing it a little while. The session with Virginia Willis and Alison Lewis on developing, writing, and testing recipes was a great reminder of technique, and it didn’t hurt that Virginia and Alison are so engaging. Jennifer Davick and Marian Cooper Cairns, both from Southern Living magazine, led the food styling and photography workshop, walking us through the process of styling and shooting a meal. Kim Severson, author of Spoon Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life, was the keynote speaker, and – whether she meant to be or not – she was hysterical. She was down-to-earth and genuine, and it came across in everything she said.
A food blog conference wouldn’t be a FOOD blog conference without food. Saturday morning started off with a great cup of coffee from FinerGrind Coffee Roasters. Lunch was a grits bar, and of course I had to have the shrimp and grits. Have I mentioned lately that I adore grits? An afternoon pie break was sponsored by PieLab, a wonderful Greensboro, Alabama, restaurant and community space. While the sweet potato pie with cinnamon meringue was pretty darn good, I couldn’t stop eating the apple pie with cheddar crust. Oh, holy yum.
At IFBC in Seattle, a theme that I took away from that conference was that blogging should be about doing what you love to do. After spending Saturday in a variety of sessions at foodblogSouth, I started thinking about why I blog. Why exactly AM I spending so many hours creating this? It’s a lot of work, and I have to do it when I get home from my real job or on the weekends or after the kids go to bed at night. In its simplest form, writing a food blog involves researching recipes, cooking a dish, photographing the dish, editing photos, writing and editing each post, and finally pressing that “publish” button. Time consuming is probably an understatement.
So, why do I do it? Do I want to be famous? Do I want a cookbook deal? Is THAT why?
The answer is not simple, but I’m pretty sure the answer is NO, I don’t do it for those reasons.
I do it because I love to write. I love to create. I love putting my voice out there for someone other than me to read. I do it because it makes me a better cook. The process of seeing food through a camera lens and then on a computer screen gives me an entirely new perspective on the food that I put in my mouth and into the mouths of my loved ones. I do it because I need a creative outlet. I do it because my job is often stressful, and I need to make something beautiful after a long day in the hospital. I do it because I love the community. Through this blog, I’ve met the most incredibly talented people. The time I spent with Chris, Tami, Taylor, Helene, Paula, and Kelly was the best part of this weekend’s conference.
So, no. I don’t do it because I want to see my name in lights.
I do it because I must.
(Note: If you want more information on each photo, click through each one to my Flickr stream.)