This is by far the hardest post I’ve written in the six years that I’ve had this blog. And it’s definitely my most personal one. I’ve toyed around with the idea of posting something like this for months. I’ve freaking fantasized about it. And now, after waiting for so long – for what, I don’t know – I’m finally doing it. I have a lot to say – so get comfortable – and I’m kicking it all off with this announcement:
Remember the book deal I announced back in June of last year? I’ve made the decision that I’m not going to do it.
And before I get into the details of why I’m no longer writing a book, I think it makes sense to start from the beginning. The very beginning of this blog.
I started this blog back in March of 2010. Six years ago. My life was very different back then. I had recently turned 25, I was working at a job that I hated, I had very few friends, yadda yadda yadda. I’ve actually talked about all of that in a previous blog post, so I’m not going to rehash all of it. The point is, my life was very different back then. My relationship with my family wasn’t the strongest. I didn’t have hobbies, or many friends. I was in a relationship, but not a very happy one. And to top it all off, my job – the place where I spent the majority of my time during the week – was unfulfilling.
Because of that – because of all of those things, I started blogging. And again, I’ve discussed all of the amazing ways blogging has changed my life for the better before. It was amazing. Having a food blog – calling myself a food blogger – it was amazing! I talked about it all the time. I had business cards made and I passed them out to anyone who would take them. I would spend hours after work and on the weekend writing blog posts, or editing photos, or thinking about which restaurants I wanted to visit next. Any time my family or friends brought up my food blog, I would beam with delight. Talking about it made me happy. I was proud of my baby!
All of that hard work paid off. My little hobby blog grew over the years. It became something bigger and better than I ever imagined. I started a Twitter account for the blog, and a Facebook page. I went to blogging conventions, and was even a guest speaker at one. I joined Yelp and became super active in that community. I was invited to all kinds of events, many of which I’ve blogged about here. Big companies reached out to me to partner with them. I spoke at a local culinary school not just once, but twice. I did lots of freelancing, including a stint at Feast Magazine. I was even asked to be a judge at a food competition!
Aside from all of the cool events and such, I used to get so excited about writing a new blog post. I used to be on top of all of the new restaurant openings in St. Louis, making sure to visit new places as soon as they opened so I could blog about them. I loved bringing my camera with me to restaurants, and I loved taking pictures of my food. If someone curiously asked me what I was doing, I beamed and excitedly told them about my food blog. It was fun.
And then something changed. I can’t pinpoint exactly when this change happened, but slowly – very gradually – blogging became less fun. I stopped caring so much about new restaurants. I stopped going out to eat as much. I often forgot my camera at home. Instead of writing my blog posts days (and sometimes even weeks) in advance, I would stay up until 2am the night before, hurriedly putting something together to go up on the blog for Friday. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even do that. I remember lazily throwing together a blog post about Soulard Market, with pictures only…just so I would have something to put up on the blog on Friday. A few times, I would silently schedule an old post to go up on Friday, just to have something there. Soon, I stopped doing even that; I would often go weeks without posting anything at all.
Instead of something I loved, this blog quickly became another job. Something I felt like I had to do. It became something I wasn’t even doing for myself anymore. I continued to sporadically post, but my writing became lazy and sloppy. I was just going through the motions.
And then I was offered a book deal. Looking back, I should have turned it down. I wish I would have turned it down. At that point, I wasn’t passionate about my blog, and a book deal is…well, it’s a big deal. But I stupidly thought that maybe writing a book would spark a new fire under me. Maybe it would make me fall in love with blogging again. Why did I think that I would be able to write an entire book when I could barely get a decent blog post up every week? I. Have. No. Idea.
But I said yes. And then I announced it here on the blog.
But before the big announcement here, I told my family. I called my mom first. I told her about the book deal. I remember trying to feign excitement in my voice. And then I called my grandparents. And my uncle. My dad. My sister. My best friends.
Each time, it was so glaringly obvious that they were more excited about the book deal than I was. “You can cross this off your bucket list now!” I remember one of my friends excitedly exclaiming when I told her the news.
“But,” I wanted to say, “Writing a book was never on my bucket list.”
It wasn’t. When I started this blog, it was never my intention for it to get as huge as it is now. It was something that I did for myself, as a hobby. “Write a book” was never on my list of goals for my life. I can think of a dozen other goals I have set for myself. Become a VP of Quality. Travel to Spain. Run a second marathon. Learn another language. Write a book? A respectable goal, sure – but it has never been my goal.
But there it was. A book deal. A real, live book deal. Some people work their entire lives to try to get a book deal. And here I was, some small time food blogger that had a deal handed to them. I didn’t seek it out. It came to me. Shouldn’t I be grateful? I felt like I should have been grateful, or at least a tiny bit excited. But I wasn’t. Not even a little bit.
And I felt guilty. Because I wasn’t excited about this, but I felt like I should be. So…I continued to fake my excitement. Fake it till you make it, right? And in the meanwhile, I had an outline for the book, but no motivation or real desire to start writing it.
In the meanwhile, life continued on. I continued to work really hard at my real job; I work in management at an incredible company, doing a job that I absolutely love. I continued to take care of my house. I continued spending time with my family, friends, and boyfriend. I started taking Spanish classes. I started getting serious about working out and running again. I continued volunteering as a Big Sister.
And the book? By the time I finished doing everything I actually enjoyed doing, I didn’t have the motivation to write the book. I didn’t want to. But this was bigger than me now. I felt like I would be letting people down if I didn’t move forward with this book.
That was my biggest mistake right there. Living my life for other people instead of living it for myself. Making decisions based on what others might think. How stupid of me.
As the months rolled by and the deadline for my manuscript crept closer and closer, I started feeling the pressure of the book loom over me. I tried everything to motivate myself. I told myself I’d write a page a day. When that didn’t work, I tried just spending 30 minutes on it a day. That didn’t help, either. I signed up for National November Writing Month, hoping that being surrounded by others working on their novels would motivate me to start on mine. Another fail; the entire month of November went by, and I didn’t go to a single NaNoWriMo event. I continued to cancel plans with friends to free up time to work on my book. I stopped writing for Feast, thinking that maybe that was the reason I wasn’t making time to write the book. Then I stopped volunteering as a mentor with Big Brothers/Big Sisters. I stopped going to my Spanish classes. All of these things were my attempt at freeing up time to write my book.
Here’s the thing: none of it worked. With every thing I trimmed off, I felt worse about myself. Stopping my Spanish classes? I felt horrible about it. Discontinuing my stint with Big Brothers/Big Sisters was one of the most heartbreaking things I’ve ever had to do. I freaking miss my little sister more than anything. And cancelling time with my friends felt so so awful. And like I said, none of it worked. Because it wasn’t that I didn’t have the time to write my book, it’s that I didn’t want to make the time.
Instead of a source of excitement, I began to resent the book, and subsequently, this blog. Anytime someone would ask about my progress with the book, I became inwardly angry. Like…uncontrollable, seething anger. Of course I could never show that. But it began to eat away at me. I remember finally telling my best friend the truth – that I didn’t want to write the book anymore. That I freaking hated it. That I couldn’t wait to just be done with it so I could move on. This was in October. I could have just called my publisher then and called it off. It’s not like I received an advance or anything – first time authors usually don’t. But I didn’t do it. I knew it would make me feel so much better, but again, I was so afraid of letting others down.
With each passing day, I felt my anxiety and depression worsen. I remember completely shutting down my Facebook for 3 months, only to finally return and whittle down my friends list from over 150 “friends” to just 38 people. “All of this over a book?”, you might ask? Yes. All of this over a stupid freaking book.
When I was in high school, one of my biggest motivations for going to college was so I could get a good job and live the life I wanted to live. I saw way too many people in my life struggle, working jobs that they hated because they had to; they didn’t have the education or experience to have any other choice. I still see that sort of thing today. And when I was accepted to Saint Louis University, I chose to major in Chemistry, not because it was easy, but because it was challenging. My goal was to work my butt off in college so that I could get a good job – a job that paid well, and a job that I wanted to have.
And I did. I worked my butt off in college so that when I graduated, I would have a choice to do exactly what I wanted to do with my life. It paid off in a big way. I work in a field that I love, doing something that I love to do. I love going to work everyday, and even if I hit the lottery tomorrow, I would not quit my job. This is the life I worked so hard for. My career in quality management? That is what I’m most proud of. And while I’m proud of my food blog, it doesn’t hold a candle to what I do in my career. That’s what I’m passionate about. That’s what I want to talk about. Not a silly blog. Not a silly book deal.
I worked way too hard in my life to feel forced into something that I don’t even want to do.
And that’s why I called off my book deal. That’s why I’ve chosen to not write a book. It’s not what I’m truly passionate about, and while I could have thrown something together, it would go against everything I’ve ever stood for to put my name on a piece of work that I’m not proud of.
Earlier last year, I was a guest on Here and Now, a podcast created and hosted by my friends Charles and Justin. If you haven’t listened to their podcast, definitely take a listen. It’s great. The subject of the episode I was on? “Quitting.” The entire episode focused around the subject of quitting. When is it okay to quit – to let something go? My answer to that question was simple: when you’ve explored every other option and it’s still not working out. When what you’re doing no longer brings you happiness. When something is more destructive than constructive.
So with this new year, I’m making it my goal to quit the things that don’t bring me happiness, and instead spend my time on the things that I really love.I’m going to focus on the things that I really want to do. I want to spend more time with my friends. I want to start studying Spanish again. I want to train for another marathon this year. And I want to fall back in love with being a food blogger again. Just a food blogger. Not an author. Not a guest on a TV show (tried it – didn’t really like it!). Not a freelancer. I want to go back to the basics. This blog is just a hobby for me, and over the years, it’s gotten away from that. I want to write this blog because I want to, not because I feel obligated to.
So there. I said it. It feels so good to get this all out there, and to finally be honest with everyone – including myself. What does this mean for the future of this blog? Well…this baby isn’t going anywhere. But I do plan on taking a break from it for a bit. Maybe a couple weeks – or maybe a few months. I don’t know, and I’m not going to put a date on when I plan on returning. I’ll know when it feels right.
If you’ve read through this entire thing, gold star for you. I’ll be around – mostly on Twitter. And when I’m ready to start writing about food again, I’ll be back – right in this little corner of the internet.
Hopefully I’ll see you then. 🙂