Sunday, January 23, 2011

Julie and Julia

Last night there was a neighborhood Soup Party at Caren's.  Basically everyone brings over a crock pot of soup and we all get to know our neighbors while tasting their culinary offerings.  It's a party that Caren hosts annually and that the neighbors all look forward to.  I met lots of people that I hadn't yet and got to get to know many who I had.  It was a nice time though I did not get to eat many of the soups because I was still on the very strict end of my diet.  I did have wine, however. 

Last night there were a pile of dishes in my sink since Aaron and I both made soups.  When I came home from the party, I just did not want to face them.  Instead I watched a bad movie ("When in Rome") and went to bed.  Of course the dishes were still waiting for me in the morning, much to my chagrin.  I still was not ready to do them.  It's Sunday.  My husband and children are playing and reading and I want to relax too.  Problem is that I have laundry to do and a dirty kitchen to tend to.  Argh!  Housewifery is never done.  Boo.  I ignored it anyway and watched another movie.  "Julie and Julia."  (Are movies in quotations or underlined?  I've forgotten...)  Anywhoo...

I had not heard much of anything good about the movie but it kept me from the dishes and it was very relatable.  After all, I blog.  And I cook.  Sort of...  The main character (played by Amy Adams who looks just like my old friend Sarah Miner) has taken on a challenge to cook all of the recipes in a Julia Child cook book and to blog about each one.  (I'm not sure how this came about because I missed the first 20 minutes of the movie due to the war games Aaron and the boys were having.)  She has many disasters in the kitchen that hit oh-so-close to home for me.  (See blogs Poop, Its What's For Dinner and Thanksgiving ProDUCKtion.)    In one scene Julia Child advises to never give an excuse for how your meal turned out.  Basically act like that's how it's supposed to look and taste.  Caren has similarly told me to never let on that someone else made it or to how many times it took you to get the recipe right. 

The part that pulled on me the most though was Julia's quest for publication.  I've written several children's books.  Two that I have actively tried to times.  I get weary of it after a year of rejection letters and I set the manuscripts aside and then something, like this movie, will spur me on again.  Both characters also had supportive husbands who truly believed that their wives talents would come to something.  Much like myself.  Aaron is always encouraging me to write and paint and to do something with them to make money from.  (Ever the capitalist!)  The thing is, he really thinks that people would pay to read my stories.  My mother is a librarian and she believes my stories are publishable too.  It seems the only people who disagree are the publishers. Boo to them. 

One of the stories I've written is a historical fiction about Rosa Parks and the bus boycott.  It's told from a fictional characters point of view, a little boy named Adali.  Twice my book was picked up by publishers.  The first time was when I was still in high school.  A small press picked it up and I signed a contract.  A year later I had not heard anything regarding my book.  I sent the company a letter to which I got no response.  I tried to call and the number was "no longer in service."  I was a little panicked about this.  Someone had my manuscript and I had no idea how to contact them!  After some research by my mother we found them.  Shaken by their unreliability, we broke contract with them. 

Fast forward about a decade.  My husband gave me a printer for Christmas with a note attached that read, "Get that book published so that I can retire and open a Starbucks."  So I tried again.  (I also wrote another story during this time.  A fractured fairytale of The Little Red Hen.)  I got another taker with in the year!  It was another small press.  As contracts were written up I discovered that they had no "brick and mortar" access.  This means the book would not be in book stores.  They had no means to advertise the book either.  Basically what it came down to is that the press was actually a vanity press and they were trying to publish some other authors to become a publishing company.  (I think you have to have 12 authors that do not include yourself, to qualify as a publishing company.)  I would need to do a lot of the selling, which was fine because I was pretty sure lots of schools would be interested.  The thing that deterred me from this press was that when I questioned the brick and mortar and what they would be doing to sell my book, they became defensive and Aaron and I felt this was rather unprofessional.  There was nothing accusatory or wrong with the questions I had asked.  So we passed on the contract.  (I still wonder if that was wise or not...)

There is a scene in "Julie and Julia" where Julie finds out what Julia thinks of her blog.  I had a similar occurrence with Rosa Parks.  Rosa Parks came to Texas Woman's University while I was attending there.  She came to promote her own book and to sign them.  I really hoped to give her a copy of my manuscript and to maybe get her input and a possible autograph on one of my copies.  Alas, you could not see Mrs. Parks unless you had purchased her book.  I had not and could not.  (Those were lean times for me.)  So I cried outside of the room where she was signing books.  I did not even get a glimpse of her.  My RA was assigned to chauffeur Mrs. Parks about and offered to give my manuscript to her.  I was thrilled!

I honestly don't know if she really did give it to her.  I asked her what she thought and she said Mrs. Parks had liked it but I really don't know that she even read it.  I did read, years later, that she said it bothered her that people tell her story saying that she did not give up her seat because she was tired.  That's just not how it went down.  It was a planned and deliberate protest.  She was specially picked because of her background of being a pristine citizen.  Reading that made me sad because my little story did say she had been "tired."  That's what all the research had said.  But my research was over ten years old.  So I re-researched and have considered re-writing the book.  Every time I start to though I get sick of it.  I've had this stupid manuscript for almost 20 years.  I'm tired of looking at it!

Seeing Julia Child rip open a letter of acceptance from a publisher and then later a big envelope with her book in it....*sigh*  How I wish I could have that experience!!!  It seems unlikely...but I still hope for it and I will still probably send out my Parks story and Hen story.  I'll get more rejection letters.  Nothing wrong with a little humility. 

And so I blog.  It's really not that I'm narcissistic...well, not completely.  I've been told you are not a writer if you don't write.  This at least keeps me writing and anything that is too personal I write in ink in a journal.  I try to keep it very real and open though.  I once confessed to something to which the other person than confessed to me that they too thought the way I did.  I have since found that lots of people think, feel, do things the way I do.  There is great comfort in knowing that you are not a nut.  It's great to know that you can love your children while wanting nothing more than to get away from them AND you are still considered to be a good mom despite it!  Everyone likes knowing that you too have questions about your faith or can't cook or have unreasonable angst about your weight.  So, I let it all out there assuming that someone else can relate or, if they can't relate, that they at least find it amusing. 

I don't expect to become famous from my blogs but it would be super cool if one day a publisher read it.  Wouldn't it?  In the mean time I have 8 subscribed followers.  Unless they read my blogs over and over I actually have close to 30.  Thirty people who actually take interest in my writing!  It has changed the way I view my day.  I used to loathe when people would ask "what's new and exciting?"  It seemed to me nothing was.  I was on another diet.  I did laundry.  My kid threw tomatoes down the stairs.  Maybe that is still pretty hum drum to some but I have been seeing more of the humor in my every day things, more of the romance and color.


  1. I think you are a writer in the real sense, not a blogger. I think your blogs, to their credit, are essays... stories if you will. I have noted that bloggers write about 10 sentences, most of which have very little relevance to much of anything. Si you are a writer... and I think it's a fine profession, published or not. And BTW, I love the Little Red Hen and the Fox. After what has happened in my life, I prefer to go 'pickety peck' quietly around my yard! Hang in there GF and keep writing.

  2. (She meant "so" not "si." See?) Thank you Catherine. I had no idea that blogs were short. My apologies to anyone who has ventured here expecting a traditional blog only to find my long winded musings! Ha! I think I fairly warn that I "blah, blah, blog."