It's funny the rules you set for yourself. The rules that you stick to long after you believe the rationale behind them. Like deciding you haven't got the figure for horizontal stripes at the age of fourteen or so, and taking another fifteen years to relent on your poor striped-jumper-loving self. Or, in the present case, believing that every food blog post MUST contain a recipe. This was my rule. And I've come to a realisation that this is a really, really rubbish rule.
I know that it's probably a rule that many others follow, perhaps even without thinking about it. But I don't think it's a rule that suits me.
You see, I'm not one of those people who puts their own twist on everything they make. I follow recipes - I want to see what the author was aiming at before making any changes. And often the results are great, so why would I mess about with it? But as a blogger, what do you do then? You want to share the recipe, but you don't want to infringe the author's copyright. Writing the method in your own words is the legal way around it, I believe, but then aren't you misrepresenting the original recipe with a description that might well be less helpful? So you end up either adding a twist simply for the sake of being able to blog, or bastardising the method, or just not blogging the damn thing because the ethical concerns are just too bloody complicated. (I've done all three!)
Meanwhile, I have nowhere near enough culinary knowledge to churn out my own original recipes on a regular basis. I am in complete awe of bloggers who do it. I have the occasional good idea (hello mincemeat and apple Chelsea buns!) but nowhere near enough to keep a blog running. I'm OK with that - half the time I'm just cooking to have something nice for dinner. I just feel like a crap blogger.
So, I've had a hard time maintaining my blog for a while, and I think this may be why. A recent article in Fire & Knives about the proliferation of recipes (at the expense of good food writing) touched a bit of a nerve. And, in fact, the very existence of Fire & Knives, a massively entertaining quarterly of food writing, is a massive inspiration to the new direction I want to take my blog in.
At Food Blogger Connect about a million years ago Jeanne of Cook Sister said you have to decide if you're a writer who cooks or a cook who writes. It really resonated with me at the time, but I could never quite decide which I was. But I think I'm going to try to be a writer who cooks. Who writes about cooking and eating, but not necessarily recipes. But not necessarily no recipes either. Wish me luck!
I'm not sure whether I needed to share this - I could have just set off on my new path without a word. But I'm kind of interested in whether other bloggers have the same issues and worries. Do you? And if so, what do you do about them?