Melissa Ford is known to most of us in the blogging world for her wonderful blog, Stirrup Queens, which is not only her personal blog but serves as a hub for the adoption/loss/infertility community. Already the author of Navigating the Land of If, a chatty, down to earth "girlfriend's guide" to infertility, Melissa recently turned her hand to writing fiction.
The result is Life From Scratch, the story of newly divorced New Yorker Rachel Goldman, & how she found her voice/got her groove back by learning to cook, & blogging about it. The cast of characters includes Rachel's ex, Adam; assorted members of her extended family; Gael, a sexy Spanish photographer (I keep picturing Javier Bardem in the movie version, lol); and, in the role of loyal sidekick/confidante/best friend, single mother by choice Arianna.
In some ways, I was reminded of the movie "Julie & Julia" (haven't read the book it was based on, but if you've seen the movie, you know that it also combines blogging & cooking themes). I suppose you could call it "chick lit," but (while I wouldn't call it a serious novel, like Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky) it's more substantial & less frivolous in tone than the Shopaholic novels & the like.
I don't want to give too much away -- but I do want to say that was a fun read, and I'm looking forward to the promised sequel!
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As is customary for a virtual book club, our tour coordinator, the wonderful Lori of Write Mind Open Heart has sent each of us a list of questions, and we must answer (at least) three of them here. Here goes!
In your life outlook, are you a Rachel or an Arianna?Definitely a Rachel. I loved this passage on page 91 that perfectly illustrates the difference between the two, where Rachel says of Arianna:
"No husband in the picture? You use donor sperm. Fertility problems found? You use IVF. No money for daycare? You just change your job around so you can work from home. Every solution looks simple, but I've learned from past experience with Arianna that while she may have the resolve to put plans into action, the rest of us are usually left with a huge, tangled mess when we dip our foot into solutions."
If you had a year to do what you wanted, what would you do? Would you learn to cook or something different?
Oh, I have often thought about this! One of my girlfriends used to work for one of the Canadian provincial governments, & took part in a program, whereby she'd defer some of her salary with each paycheque, & then every so many years, she could take a paid sabbatical. If I remember correctly, she was able to extend her maternity leave that way, and several years ago, she used part of her sabbatical time to spend the summer driving across the country & back again with her two daughters. They stayed with us for a few days while seeing the local sights then. Talk about the trip of a lifetime!!
So yes -- I would love to have a year off. (I know maternity leave is not exactly a sabbatical or a vacation, but it is a break away from the office routine, & I've always thought that, since I'm never going to get to take one, why shouldn't I be able to use that time & those funds for a sabbatical of sorts??)(In Canada, women now get up to a year off, funded through Employment Insurance, which most of us pay into.) I would use that time to travel, maybe to go back to school or take some classes in a subject that interested me -- yes, maybe cooking. ; )
Rachel's blog Life from Scratch is itself a character in the story. Do you think non-bloggers will understand the details of blogging (blog awards, stats and stat counters, other true life blogs mentioned) and how does writing her blog tie into her story making it appeal to the mainstream?
I wondered about this too. I guess you would have to ask a non-blogger for a truly honest take on this question. As a longtime reader of Melissa's blog, I recognized her distinctive "voice" in the pages of this book and, as a fan, I was probably predisposed to like it. I imagine -- I hope -- that readers who don't know anything or much about blogging will learn a lot from this book. Perhaps it will prompt them to check out some blogs later, or maybe even start one themselves. : )
How would you react if your blog hit the big time -- if you had hundreds of thousands or even millions of readers hanging on your every word, if you won awards, if mainstream media wanted to interview and feature you? Are there aspects of blogging fame that you'd refuse? How would the content of your blog change?
To be honest, I'm not sure I'd want that. Although I don't think there's much danger of that happening. ; ) Childlessness not by choice is not exactly a topic that people are clamouring to read about; au contraire -- even (& maybe even especially) within the ALI community. When you're still in the hopeful throes of infertility treatment, the idea that you could go through all this pain, all this heartache, all these drugs, all that MONEY (!) & still not come out of the whole process with a baby is just not something you really want to think about.
But it does happen to some of us -- & when it does, it's so heartening to know there are other women who have been through this, survived, & maybe even thrived.
I started blogging for myself, first & foremost, & it's still my main blogging raison d'etre. I know I do have a small regular audience out there, & I am grateful for that. But small is just fine with me. : ) There are very few people "in real life" who know that I blog, & I would kind of like to keep it that way. I don' t mind sharing details about my loss & infertility and my feelings about childless/free living with online friends, but I'm a little squeamish thinking about family & friends reading about some of the gory details. (Especially when some of them involve them, lol.)
In the very unlikely event that I did hit the big time, I think I'd have to try to be even more circumspect than I already am about writing about personal things and people I know, maybe become a little more generalized vs personalized. Some past posts would probably have to come down, or at least get some of the details edited out.
To continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at Write Mind Open Heart.