Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.

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Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Kamman and a crisis of faith

I was gearing up to write about Madeleine Kamman's When French Women Cook when I had a crisis of faith.

Maybe people are really sick of me yammering about French cooking. Like, enough already! Does this woman read any literature any more? Or has she gone totally Lee Miller?

(After World War II ended, photographer Lee Miller found herself creatively adrift. She took to alcoholism and obsessive gourmet cooking.)

This in turn led me to thinking about writing to please myself vs. writing to please an audience, and the ensuing mental morass led to a migraine aura.

One may write to please herself and let the audience come to her. This view holds reading audiences are like shy toddlers. Act disinterested and soon the cute kid will be in your lap, pulling your hair. Then again (and here is where the crazy-making thinking comes in), shouldn't you extend candy to the toddler to hasten things along? Write what you know audiences will like?

Round-ups, for example. Round-ups, in the right hands, can be an excellent means of finding compelling information or new voices you might never find yourself. Conversely, round-ups can be endlessly self-referential, sending the reader ping-ponging through the same six sites day after day. Either way, the blogger who regularly rounds up will garner hits.

Then there is the popular business of bashing. Richard Ford bashes us, we bash back. Tanenhaus bashes, then sends Dwight Garner (does this guy realize what he's in for?) into the fray, and the blogosphere rocks like a boat upon rough seas.

I could write about all this instead of cooking with walnut oil. I bet I'd have more readers. I'd get ARC copies, and get my name on the NBCC site, and pretty soon I'd be the next fucking Julie Powell, right?

Maybe.

Maybe not.

(Swallow headache meds.)

You see where I'm going with this.

There are some problems, though. The first is inclination. Much as I like reading round-ups, I have no urge to go rounding myself. Nor do I have the time these dedicated souls put in to finding the good stuff. As for the bashing, well, I loathe the entire business. It's idiotic, it's unnecessary, we have enough actual blood on our hands without quibbling over print on trees vs. print onscreen.

(Mildly stoned on headache meds. Scintillating visual disturbance still there.)

And isn't there something a little whorish about "cultivating" an audience with content I personally don't care about?

(Ooh...now she takes the moral high ground!)

I am condemned to the niche. The long tail. Out here in the blogosphere (there are no stars, and we are stoned...oh, 'scuse me...) I will tread my narrow path. Books, cooking, insomnia, migraine. I will not endless scrutinize Google Analytics (whose new verson I cannot decipher anyway.) I will not technorati myself. I will try, try, try not to think about dying an underpublished administrator with an incipient case of secretary ass.

On that note, the Kamman book is excellent, and well worth your blood-for-oil dollars.

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