Sunday, September 2, 2012

Top 5 Things That Happen To You When You Write a Cookbook

Recipe failure is loads of fun.
So, I'm down to the last 30 days before I send this baby off to my editors, and I'm alternating between a huge sigh of relief and unadulterated panic. Will I ever make this deadline? God, I hope so. Will I die trying? Probably not, but it sure as heck feels like I might.

Anyhow, in an effort to procrastinate all of the writing I should be doing this Labor Day weekend as the rest of the world sips icy cold ones on the beach (and do know that I hate you for this), I decided to offer a round-up of all the fun stuff that happens to a person when they try to crank out 150 pages and 60+ recipes (tested multiple times) in less than three months.

1. Personal grooming be damned.

You know that feeling when you're walking out the door of the hair salon and you just know you're looking good with your sassy new coiffed hairdo, freshly painted toes and plumpy pink lip gloss? I don't know that feeling anymore, but what I do know are black roots, hairy legs and vampire-length toenails. It's not pretty. I'm not pretty. Heck, if I can sneak in a shower sometime before it gets dark, it's been a good day.

2. You get fat.

Next time I'm writing a book with a healthy eating slant, be it paleo, clean eating, vegan, low fat, low carb, juicing, I don't care. All I know is that eating nothing but smoked sausages, pork BBQ, ham, bread pudding, short ribs, chili, and various things cooked in fatback and bacon grease for three months has made me a fatty. I got stuff growing around my midriff that I've never seen before. As a result, I have now become a sweat pants, drawstring shorts, mom jeans kinda girl who also looks a hot mess from the waist up (see number 1). As if this wasn't bad enough, I'm usually donning a t-shirt stained with food particles and I smell like Subway.

3. You get angry (A LOT). 

My poor husband. He thought that PMS was bad, but that ain't nothing compared to 3+ months with not a single day off, recipe failures that end up with me in tears face down on the bed, unprovoked social media outbursts, the occasional middle of the night panic attack, and a general maladjusted sense of well being that never seems goes away. The worst part is that there is (sadly) no happy pill that I can take since I play with knives all day, which is a whole 'nother paradox my poor husband has got to deal with.

4. You never get to eat what you want.

This is perhaps the biggest irony when you set out to create a book full of recipes that folks will in turn make for family dinners, gatherings and Sunday meals. By the time I've written the recipe, gone to the grocery store for the umpteenth time, prepped the recipe, cooked the food, tasted the food, and cleaned up the kitchen, I'm over the damn thing, and more often than not it's now 11 o'clock at night and I'm hungry and cranky (see number 3). This is when I usually end up eating something leftover from a previous days testing (see number 2) or bust out a Stouffer's French bread pizza because I can't bear to have to clean the kitchen again. When this is over, I'm going out for sushi and getting the love boat.

5. People hate you.

Birthday party invite? Gotta work. Dinner at our house? Nope. Afternoon invite to join friends in Virginia wine country? A mere pipe dream. When you write a cookbook on short deadline, it becomes your life. Thankfully, the process is often brief, lasting only a few months, but in those months, you get to do one thing, and that's write, which means everything in your life (and I mean everything) is pushed aside until you turn that sucker in. While you as author may understand this to be a necessary evil, friends and family may not, and no matter how many explanations or apologies you give, you're still a selfish jerk. I'm lucky, I have a wonderful family, great friends, and a husband I frankly don't deserve, but it still pains me to have to say "no" like a broken record. All I can say is that soon enough I again shall be free, and I'm taking everyone out for for frozen daiquiris at Applebee's.

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  1. Glad to know I'm not alone. Though I am sorry you go through all that too!

  2. I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to catch the trend with food bloggers and write a cookbook. You have done a great job of illustrating how I imagine it would be. Thanks!

  3. LOL. Wonderful post Kendra! All true. But I can't imagine YOU getting fat. Hang in there!

  4. It's a lot of work in a short period of time, but there's something quite addictive about it. This is my second book (my first was pub'd back in 2006), and after that one I swore I wouldn't do another, but here I am...ha. I might whine and bitch, but I already want to do another book after this one. Guess I am a glutton for punishment and perhaps I need an intervention ;)

  5. Mollie,

    I know you understand, girl! I believe the subject matter is responsible for my big hiney. I can't imagine writing a pie cookbook! haha

  6. Funny, it would never occur to me to bring food over to someone working on a cookbook. But it sounds like that is what you need. Instead of having a baby, you are giving birth to a cookbook. Based on #3, you do sound like a new mom...

  7. Leigh,

    It really feels that way, and I have spoken with my fellow cookbook authors and many actually feel kinda lost and depressed after turning in the final copy of their books. It's like, what now? Strange phenomenon indeed.

  8. Glad to know this is what I can expect if I follow through with writing a cookbook! Hang in there... only 30 minutes to go!


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