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owning my success

June 15th, 2011 | 12 Comments »

I can’t recall, nor can I find the exact date that I first hit the ‘Publish’ button on this blog and began this journey, but it happened in June, and it was five years ago, in 2006. There were hardly any food blogs then, and I really had no idea what I was getting myself in to, nor what would happen over the next 1,825 days, the people I would touch, and who would reach back to connect with me, the ways I would explore food and all it’s impact on my life and the way this little niche world would explode like it has. I had no concept of how this venture would change me, and who it would make me out to be. I’m a food blogger, for certain, but also, I buck the trendiness of food blogs. I don’t follow the popular ones, I don’t criss-cross the country for conferences, I don’t jump on the latest food bandwagon and post a recipe that’s been talked about to death. It’s not because of who I am, but because of who I am not.

Because I’m not one of those bloggers; you know, those picture perfect bloggers with the amazing photos that are always in rotation on the websites that every food blogger dies to get linked to, and the fact that I can’t even remember the names of these sites is proof I’m not one of those bloggers. I’m one that doesn’t reach for the stars, that doesn’t spend hours styling every photograph. I’m one that just makes stuff they like, take a few shots of it on an old TV tray set near a western window in a sunroom full of plants. A girl who crosses her fingers, most of the time, as she aims a simple point-and-shoot camera, hoping one or two of the 20-30 shots she takes will look really nice. And then applies all the best iPhoto techniques to them anyway, just in case, posts it to her blog and sends it into cyber space. To a place that no one really seems to go, but they do, according to the numbers. But they don’t, according to the comments.

There’s a lot that I do well, and even I can see that. And I hold stubbornly hard to the gut instinct that this blog of mine stay as organic, as original, as personal as possible. But it’s hard to continually put your best foot forward, akin to dressing for the coolest party and then showing up to an empty house, before you begin to think you’re just banging your forehead against the wall and no one is hearing the ‘cronk cronk’ sound of your effort. I’m no slouch as a food blogger, and my friends, my dearest most amazing and supportive friends will never let me forget that. They are my lifeline during those times I post what that I feel is incredible, yet also feels like something that no one seems to have found. But I will not compromise myself for success, and it’s been a long hard road to accepting the internal, and perceived success of this little place of mine. Because it isn’t out there, that success; it’s in here. It’s inside of me, not in the search engines, not in the popularity polls. It’s not in the accolades, ever. Ever.

And every year, as the anniversary of starting this blog approaches, I am faced with the same ‘standing on the ledge’ feeling; the sense that I want to jump ship, give up on this baby I’m trying to raise in all the right ways, maybe stuff both of us with junk food while watching endless amounts of bad television, while I hover over the ‘Delete’ button, eyes dripping in tears. It’s like we’re both five years old this year, this blog and I. Five. Years. Old. If this was a child, I’d be thinking of sending her off to Kindergarten. And those of us with children, we know how emotional this stage of life can feel.

But really, it’s a blog about food that has grown up in a superbly saturated food blog world. There are thousands upon thousands of food blogs out there now and unless you’re screaming at the top of your lungs from the rooftops about what you do and spreading yourself thin to every corner of the world in order to get your point across, you are, for the most part, an insignificant attendee at a big ol’ trendy party, hovering just outside the glare of the paparazzi.

And that’s not me anyway. My friends will be the first to remind me that I’m not a showgirl. I’m the one who enters any gathering and circles around the edges, a smile on her face, waiting politely for a group to stop talking so I can step in and say ‘Hello’.  I never burst in and shout ‘Here I am!’ flashing something eye-catching, showing off my bling and ruffles. I’ll celebrate your success while I keep quiet about my own. I’m good about deflection. I’m humble about where I’ve gone, what I’ve done and what kinds of creations spring from my fingertips. I’m so good at what I do, but I’m terrible at telling you about it. I like for this blog to do that, to spread the word for me while I quietly hum to myself in the background, maybe washing the dishes out of sight, my sleeves rolled up and a stray lock of hair falling over my forehead. If I based my sense of success on how glam this blog is, how well received it is, how much people talk about it, then I’d never lift my head off the pillow. But that isn’t what success has come to mean to me. Not for this little blog, in her unassuming way. And it certainly isn’t how I measure my own success.

And in terms of the last five years of blogging, I can, with the utmost confidence say that this blog has been a success; a rousing, mind-blowing, gorgeous and delicious success. In my own world, where the only thing that counts is the measuring stick I hold up next to me, this blog of food, photos and stories has had an undeniable, smashing run. I can look back over the last five years and see how far I’ve come in terms of my writing, my pictures and the foods that I show you. It’s grown by huge leaps and bounds, become tightly focused and, within the last few years, has found it’s footing with an audience that loves what they find each time they pull up my site. Within my local food community, the people in my immediate circle, the ones who move and shake the food life of Minnesota, I’ve found a platform that is solid and an acceptance that is monumental. My reach as a blogger may not be far, but it runs very, very deep. And in my own quiet and unassuming way, I’d like much more to deeply please and really touch half a dozen people than a hundred or more in an utterly superficial way. One ‘Yum’ comment means little to nothing for me. I want to stir something in you with what I post. I want it to make you feel something move within your heart, or your gut. At the very least, I hope it makes you hungry. And not just for food.

So this post is an acknowledgement of ownership. This baby, this little one that’s grown, evolved, matured and become stronger is not going anywhere. And neither am I. We’re going to stick with our plan, the foods that nurture you both in body and spirit, while continuing to avoid the proverbial blogging TV, the ads that make you Want! Want! Want! and avoid the urge to think that somehow, it needs to me more than it is. Although I may have moments where I gaze in frustration at what the public seems to find appealing in terms of food blog posts, I can’t measure my own acceptance by that tiny and insignificant stick. Every post that comes through my fingertips originates within my heart, and springs to life through the food, the recipe, the words and the feelings it evokes. Nothing you read here is ever forced or contrived, even the posts for financial compensation. Nothing is ever posted to fill empty space, a day in the week or some need to be heard. I rarely have an agenda when I write, except when I’m eager to express what my food wants to say. And my food speaks clearly when it desires to be heard, and tapping in to that effect is what makes this blog soar.

I must admit though, that this post has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever written. It’s an acceptance that doesn’t come easy, evidenced by how hard I push against the tide each Spring, how often I look at this place of mine and grind my teeth over what it’s not. We’re hard-wired to always want more than we have. We bombarded over and over with what we think we need, what we should do to become successful, to be popular, and to buck the trend, to get off the horse while the rest of the crowd rides on is difficult and often very lonely. But I can’t become something artificial. I can’t force this into a shape that it isn’t. And I absolutely won’t write anything for this blog that doesn’t spring to life within the muscle that powers my life. I’ll remain true to what I want within these pages, to follow my own path and trail.

And I hope you continue to stick with me in this journey.

12 Responses to “owning my success”

  1. Nicole says:

    Wow, this is so insightful and heartfelt. Having just start blogging 6 months ago, it is really intriguing to hear your thoughts on the past five years.

    How inspiring that your blog is exactly the way YOU want it to be.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Lisa says:

    I can’t believe I just read ‘me’ – aka, my thoughts are exactly what you so eloquently conveyed in this entry. Thank you for being who you are, thank you for not succumbing, thank you for being real. I wish I wrote this post.

  3. Liz says:

    I don’t read that many food blogs because they are intimidating to me, but I always read yours because your food is just like you: real, natural and beautiful. And it comes through the computer loud and clear.

    Congratulations friend!

  4. katessisterkris says:

    Happy Anniversary Katiekins!!!!!

  5. Our blogs are exactly the same age, so I can tell you that maintaining a food blog for five years is no small achievement. I have always said that above all, blogging should be fun, and when it stops being fun, I’ll stop blogging. It’s important to be who you are, or you’ll never have fun with your blog. Happy five!

  6. Astrid says:

    I love your blog and your writing!
    Yours was one of the first foodblogs I started to read and I am still here lurking in the background. not often commenting tho. I know I should more often, but even if I don’t please know that I enjoy visiting you and your little blog!

    Congratulations of 5 years blogging!

  7. samara says:

    I love this. Happy Five Years, Kate! I’m with you. We do this by our own measures of success. I love the thoughts, the honesty you’ve laid out here so well.

    {I’m currently celebrating six years myself this month and like you don’t know the exact date!}

  8. Kate says:

    You ladies are some of the reasons I’ve stuck with this so long. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart and soul for your love and support. You all mean the world to me.

  9. Brenda says:

    Thanks for being you, Kate. You’re definitely one of my blogging perks. xoxo Brenda

  10. Anna says:

    Maybe the most difficult post you’ve written, but one of the most beautiful. You truly weave your words with food… and what a gift that is. Because our lives ARE words woven by food. It’s what we do, yet you have the gift and pick up ‘a pen’ {ie. sit at your keyboard=)}. Thank you.

  11. This is beautiful.

    As you know, I have been a fan of yours since I started blogging four and a half years ago. You were one of the people who embraced me back when I was the newbie on the block. And now, all these years later, I am so glad we are both here.

    Your writing is more beautiful than ever. It is delicate and poetic. You aren’t the girl who needs to tell bad sausage jokes on Twitter to get people’s attention. You have quiet confidence. You deliver good food and writing consistently. You can be counted on. You write things that are important to your readers. And you do it your own way – it always feels like you write your posts while drinking tea and swinging on the front porch swing on a warm day. I feel relaxed when I come here. Like I might want to sit down on the front step and join you.

    Congratulations on your anniversary, honey! Please keep writing. And if you have any mercy at all, please blog your stone ground mustard recipe. I think of you every weekend in the country when we have it on our hotdogs, outdoors, in bare feet, which is just the way I imagine you want it to be eaten.

    xo Kim

  12. Kristen says:

    I love you, your standards, views, talent, writing, photos… All because it is so personally you. I admire your stance with your blog and I respect the 100% authentic direction you’ve stayed with.
    I do have to say… 5 years and we STILL haven’t met. Travesty.