Tuesday, March 22, 2011

TERP-A-Versary #4 Happy Birthday to The Essential Rhubarb Pie

Can you believe it?  I made it to yet another blogiversary!  Can't believe I've been managing to come up with new topics and new recipes for that long!

Every time I hit a new anniversary, I get a little philosophical.  Why do I do this?  What do I get out of it?  What does anyone get out of this?  Am I just another mediocre, unimportant food blogger who has delusions about her own writing/cooking skills?  Does it matter to me if that's all that I am?

Years ago before the days of blogs and universal internet access, I remember reading the columns in the local paper and thinking about how I would love to write a food column.  I wanted  write a humorous food column - something that would elicit a chuckle or two from the reader and yet still tackle the joy of cooking something.  I wanted to build my recipes around a good story. 

I think I forgot about that dream for many years until I began blogging.  Originally I only had my non-food blog Shipwrecked & Comatose. Then I started hearing about this thing called a "food blog".  I realized that I had my chance to write about food for my own enjoyment.  I could write that column that I wanted to write years ago because there is now plenty of free space online to do so. 

My main purpose in creating the blog was twofold.  First I wanted to talk about food, one of my favorite topics, without having to bore the non-foodies who read my other blog.  The other was to archive my recipe ideas and archive good recipes I found elsewhere.  All too often I would come up with a recipe and people would ask, "How did you make that?" and because I never wrote things down, I could never really replicate.  In fact, I started this blog making my recipes non-recipes where I would just write down, "I did this, then added that..." 

Eventually I realized a good food blog has an actual recipe.  I still believe in the philosophy that "a recipe is just a story about food," though and I think the endless anecdotes about food and my life around it is one of the major elements of this blog (along with geek references and bad puns).  If I were to say what my blog is about, what its theme is, I would have to say it's simply that I want to tell a story -and that story happens to include dinner!

Still it's hard sometimes to feel confident as a blogger.  So many blogs I read are by professional (or at least part-time professional) food writers or serious food competitors or folks with a much more glamourous life than I have.  I'm not working my own farm - or even elaborate garden - in the country and I'm not a city person who travels the globe finding every exotic dish out there.  I feel rather ordinary at times.  What am I doing that thousands of other hobbyist home cooks aren't doing?  Everyone is a critic too.  So many bloggers and forum participants have all kinds of ideas on what makes a bad food blog.  Bad photos? Check! Boring recipes? Check! Bad writing? Hard to say.  That's a subjective topic and I am often told I'm a good writer - by my very biased friends and family!  Is what I'm doing really worth anything?

But I think this post is starting to feel more like a pity party than a celebration.  That's not what this post is meant to be about.  When I started TERP I wasn't sure if anyone would actually read it.  Then some people did start reading it.  I saw how many people were reading other blogs. I could get two visitors while other blogs had fifty.  I wasn't sure what I was or wasn't doing to make people like me.  Why couldn't I be one of the cool kids?  Over the years I had a revelation.

There is a quote I picked up from a fairly obscure off-Broadway (brief run on Broadway) musical that I like to use.  "I'd rather be 9 people's favorite thing than 100 people's 9th favorite thing."  I look at some of the seriously popular blogs out there.  I see the pressure they must be under to keep their huge audiences happy.  I see the hundreds of comments they receive on every post that they have to stay on top of.  I find myself eschewing those blogs these days.  Recently I found a recipe I liked and wanted to use on Smitten Kitchen and was going to comment on the blog, but I would have been one of 500 commenters.  Would what I have to say really matter?  I would be just another blogger who dropped by to look at a recipe.   I haven't read The Pioneer Woman in months.  I don't even have it on my reading list anymore.  Occasionally I do get a response in the comments to my comment on one of the more widely read blog and it tickles me to death when one of them likes my comment enough to pop over here and say hello.  I don't expect it.

Flying under the radar has its advantages too.  I don't get featured in any stories about the Top 10 Worst Food Blogs Ever. I don't receive hate mail from Rachael Ray fans.  On the down side I don't get freebies from food companies.  I always wish some food company could make me an offer that I could give products away to readers.  That would be a nice thing to do!

I'm really happy that I have the readers I have.  My readership is small, but I love you all for your loyalty.  Some of you have been commenting here for nearly all four years that I have been up.  That's what really keeps this blog going. 

In the end I can't write a blog based on what other people think a blog should be.  It's my blog.  It is what it is - bad photos and all.  If I'm not writing it for me and only for me, then I need to stop blogging.

I believe I got exactly what I wanted from this blog: A place to log my recipe ideas and to just blather about whatever food topic is in my brain.  I also got something I didn't expect at first, but it definitely the best thing about having this blog.  This blog brought me friends.  Truly my newfound foodie friends over the years are the best thing about blogging!


bellini valli said...

We love you two. I really want to steal you quote becuase I think it says it all about our philosphy and our reason for blogging. Happy blogaversary!!!!!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Happy Blogsoversary! And what a lovely, reflective post too :)

The Duo Dishes said...

First of all, who cares about all the other bloggers and what they're doing! You have a great technique, good recipes, life stories to share and an interesting voice, which is what brings us back. That's all you need to worry about. Second, congrats on 4 years! Love Feist. She was the perfect accompaniment to your celebration. Third, may you continue to do this at the pace and length of your desire. Blogging is a fun thing, and I think we should run with it until the fun fades. Until then, maybe it be an emotionally and mentally prosperous activity for you. :)

CookiePie said...

What a great post - and congrats on your blogiversary!!! And that video -- my almost-2-year-old asks for Feist by name :)

The Blonde Duck said...

I love this post. That's what I've been struggling with as a writer. It's like everyone says how brilliant I am and that I should be published, but all agents want is the same crap everyone else is shoving out. They want to find the next Pioneer Woman, the next Smitten, but only if they look the same. And I'd rather know 30 people like my stories than 30,000, if it's real and not just a trend.

Sue said...

Happy Blogiversary to you, Happy Blogiversary to you, Happy Blogiversary to you dear Rachel!!! What a wonderful post. Ditto to everything you said!

I'm so happy I found your blog and most especially YOU!

Emily said...

Happy blogiversary! You're such a good writer and I love your blog. I think you need your own food column in the paper. I really do.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Happy 4th Blogiversary to you! I think you write excellent, I've always enjoyed your posts, I may not comment regularly but you have been, and still are in my reader. There are too many cookie cutter blogs out there, stay the way you are, stay true to yourself. You never know who's lurking on your blog!

Carla said...

This looks absolutely fantastic! Thanks for sharing!