What "A Food Writing Course" Means: At Least To Me, At Least In 2014
The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning, that beloved fount of literary and community growth hormones, invited me to teach a course on Food Writing this spring. I said, "Yes." In spite of knowing the teacher gene that blazes through both sides of my family turned its back on me, and in spite of having never taken a food writing course myself, I said, "Yes. Of course." After quite a few snow days of immersion in food writing I admire, followed by stern self-lectures about just choosing something, for crying out loud, herewith: the course outline. Subject to participant influences.
Out of the endless options, I settled on one main principle: this course will encourage, cultivate, cajole, and center on writing itself (tr: not how to get published, not how to start or resurrect a blog, not whether to go with tumblr, Instagram, or both.)
Why? Writing, for me, is joyous. Writing is how I know I'm alive and how I figure out what I value and abhor. The practice of writing satisfies all by itself.
Writing about food reaches particularly deeply into one's life as a human being. Most of us commit several "agricultural acts" each day. Writing helps us pay attention and steep in the wonder of nurturing ourselves from mystery itself: earth, sun, water, living tissue.
The habit of opening deep sources of self-expression yields energy: the kind of power one needs to sustain a blog, finish a cookbook project or video, and hold the interest of busy Twitter or facebook followers. Glorious on its own, as sheer self-expression, food writing also offers opportunities to be useful.
Which brings us back to publishing. In spite of all the above, participants in this course will publish themselves as often as they wish on a website built just for the course. And in spite of all the heaviness and meaning behind the concentration on writing itself, if it works as intended, this course will be more like play than like work.
We will meet at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, a particular kind of fairyland for word-loving people as well as foodies. We will make use of our setting to infuse our writing with real life and with sensory delights. Join us for the exploration.