When I was a little girl, aged 7 and 8, I used to play by myself in the playground every day. I had a game which captivated me: presenting a TV cookery show. Showing the imaginary audience how to bake chocolate cakes and vegetable soups with bits of old leaf and lots of imagination - narrating the steps to culinary heaven. Even then I wanted to teach, to share, to inspire.
I started out writing wanting to be the next big cookery writer – I had visions of myself as Nigella Lawson or Delia Smith! I wrote to them and asked their advice on how to be a food writer when I was in my late teens.
Then in my late twenties I wrote articles which I submitted to food magazines, got a food column in a parenting magazine, and started a baking blog. I loved cooking, loved reading food writing, loved writing, so being a food writer seemed a natural step.
Except that’s not where my creative passion ended up being. And in the end, when I wrote my first book, both the content and the style made me dizzy with delight, but were completely unexpected. My first book, despite seven earlier attempts at everything from poetry to a spice cookery book, was on the menstrual cycle!
In truth there is a rather large part of me that thinks that whilst cake is heaven, there is more to life, and that being a food writer was a little inconsequential, and a bit of a cop out.
I have a strange sense of obligation. And as a member of a race that is living unconsciously, I feel I can play my part better by helping to wake us all up to co-creating a brighter culture in more constructive ways than by encouraging people to bake cakes.
But the dream has always lingered.
And so I have kept my littlest blog going, my baking blog, The Queen of Puddings. And I'm so glad I did, as it means I have kept one foot in that dream, in that world.
So last year when I was invited to teach food blogging at Ballymaloe Cookery School by our family friend, and Ireland's most famous food writer I was honoured. I have now been teaching the for a year, (you can join me for our next 1/2 day course there next Saturday 18th May, it doesn't matter if food blogging is not your thing, the majority of the course is a practical "how to" which applies to any sort of blogging). She then invited me to help set up her blog, and I act as her blogging consultant now, which is SUCH an exciting job!
So when I was invited to speak at the Ballymaloe Lit Fest, alongside so many of my culinary heroes I was honoured, and, if truth be told, bloody terrified. There was lots of imposter syndrome floating round inside my skull. I tried to chicken out a couple of times. But they were having none of it!
|(See me, seated at the end, on the right - that's me with the big hippy skirt!)|
The festival was last weekend, and though I started off shaky and nervous, I was interested to note that all the other speakers did too. None of them was at ease at the opening ceremony, having to make small talk with strangers. Note to self: all heroes are human too!
The weekend was a blast, a great way to unwind after the stresses of the previous months, with good food, drink, music, culinary inspiration, a little sunshine and friendships - old and new. I made lots of new connections which I look forward to nurturing. It felt so good to be part of such a vibrant, positive community atmosphere. These things really matter.
And I felt, by the end of the weekend, like "I can do this!" I may not be a big name to match the likes of Madhur Jaffrey or David Thompson. But I have a lot to offer, and people came away from interacting with me full: full of answers, ways forward, possibilities and confidence - and that is my intention always, always - through my books, my blogs, my teaching... You might learn some interesting recipes from me - but my driving motivation is to empower you to get out there and do your thing, share your talents, add your voice, so that YOU are there on stage helping shape this world. And I don't have to be well-known to do that at all. But it's great to have a platform like last weekend to reach more, and different, people.
And so this last week has been a literal bursting forth of two dreams in one week: being a cookery writer, and submitting my manuscript to my REAL publisher. Two dreams. One week. And the biggest dream of all is that those dreams are going to give fuel to so many other dreams, just by being out there.
So I'm grateful, very grateful that I did it. Because Lord knows it's taken all of my courage and VAST amounts of energy.
And I'm so grateful to my hubby, Mr DA, who manned the family fort so I could do it. And to my kiddies for letting me go. And to all my friends who have barely seen or heard from me these past few months.
What a joy pocket it's been!