happy birthday, alphabet soup!

Ready, set, go!

A-B-C. 1-2-3.

Zee leetle blog, she is three!

Hard to believe. Time sure flies. Why do I keep talking in three’s?

Can’t help it. Oops. Did it again ☺.

Wow. We’re up to 950+ posts, 14,000+ comments received, and 5500+ images uploaded. I’m happy to report that although blog reading in some circles is down, my readership has doubled in the past year. By now, I should own stock in flickr, Campbell’s Tomato Soup, and Earth’s Best Organic Alphabet Pasta. And of course, I’m pretty sure Sir Paul, Bobby Dylan (wearethisclose), and George Clooney have all been asking about me.

This past year, I served as a Cybils Poetry Judge, attended my first KidLitCon in Washington, D.C., threw a Pajama Party, hosted my first Poetry Potluck, read and reviewed a slew of cool books, made lots of celebratory soup, and ate thousands a few cupcakes. Most important, I’ve met some new friends, both online and in person.

One of those friends asked me how much time I spend on this blog. I won’t lie to you: it’s a lot of work — I devote several hours every day, seven days a week, to keep the posts coming at a steady clip. Perhaps a younger, snappier, less cognitively-impaired person could accomplish the same tasks in much less time (i.e., someone on high octane java, or who has Brad Pitt at her beck and call).

But I’m a slow writer to begin with, and there always seems to be a ton of “little behind-the-scenes things”: researching food topics, procuring interviews, seeking permissions, emailing publicists for review copies and spreads, the very time-consuming process of searching for appropriate images (or taking my own), then downloading, sizing, crediting, and linking the images.

Chocolate mousse tarts by designwallah/flickr.

And all you writers (beginning, middle, end) know how it is — there’s time spent waiting — for ideas to come or gel, time spent gazing out the window, drafting, revising and/or tweaking, fact-checking, time spent procuring 72% cacao dark chocolate to facilitate the whole process . . .

Yes, there are days when I say, “What’s the point? Wouldn’t this time be better spent working on more manuscripts?” My answer is always, “No.” I started this blog to build confidence, support my fellow writers, and to develop a more public voice. In tandem with my picture book and chapter book manuscripts, alphabet soup has made me a stronger, more versatile writer. Call it cross-fertilization. Cross seasoning. I am a visual thinker. It’s all about practice practice practice. Know your audience. Entertain and inform. Amuse. Tell the truth. Join the conversation and be kind.

 Pierce Place/flickr

Blogging has been incredibly freeing.

I’ve always viewed it as an art form unto itself, with endless possibilities for creative experimentation.

When my other writing isn’t going so well, blogging is a refuge. It’s restaurant review, ad-copy, food memoir, diary, critical essay, personal essay, travelogue, book rec, photo essay, nonfiction article, shoot-the-breeze all rolled into one. There are no deadlines (except pub day posts), no powers-that-be to say, “NO,” no query letters or proposals, no submission hassles. It’s a safe place to play or work hard, to follow a whim, a mood, a passion. A place to stretch and breathe. And yes, to social network.

Unlike Twitter or Facebook, which has me contemplating the shallow and seems to erode my attention span, blogging allows me to go deep and wide, improves my focus and concentration, and requires untold discipline. All good things to feed my other writing. I know blogging isn’t for everyone, but so far, it’s working for me. When it comes to book publishing, there are so many things out of my control — market conditions, limited opportunities for multicultural writers, rapidly changing trends, etc. The only things under my control are to write the best stories I can and to take responsibility for the content of this blog.

 My Own ABC Book by Lois Lenski (1922), Q is for Quilter.

So, to friends, old, new, and in-between:

Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.



You are:

why I’m here.

Soup, soup, soup!

*This post has been brought to you by the number 3, a.k.a. breakfast, lunch, and dinner. ♥ ♥ ♥


Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.