About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Does Fat Mean Flavour?
The Polish in Melbourne
Raspberries and Pears
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The Gift
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The Nigella Effect

1001 Dinners 1001 Nights
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Cooked And Bottled In Brunswick
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essjay eats
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Steve Don't Eat It!
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tummy rumbles
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where's the beef
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St Kilda Today

Friday, April 04, 2008
To A Long Life
Having pitched my previous post regarding fat to an editor and receiving cautious interest, my article was turned down on submission. No, I haven't been away sulking, rather, I've been trying to discern the difference between blogging and writing for mainstream publications. Towards that end I've asked a couple of published writers for their thoughts on the matter and have even signed up for a course on food writing.

It would seem to me that it is not enough to be just able to write, there seems to be a small matter of discipline in writing as well, in that one needs to know when to rein in the words, as very often, less is more - word limits. There is also a certain structure that needs to be observed, depending on what type of article you're writing.

My current lack of posting doesn't mean that I've suddenly run out of topics, they are still coming thick and fast, it's more a matter of arranging them in a different way to satisfy the needs of editors, there is even some homework to be done on that.

The Council of Adult Education course I'm doing, called Eating Write, after one week only is certainly opening my eyes to a different world and wasn't exactly what I expected in either content or classmates. There are about a dozen of us and include people who work in food, people who are interested in food and three food bloggers.

We all had to give a little talk about ourselves and the one thing that cropped up again and again, was the word passionate when talking about their interest in food. It was funny sitting there and hearing people's passion, for it's one emotion I don't exactly have with food. I'm far from knocking this feeling in regards to food and I certainly get why people may have it, but for me, my thing with food is an endless fascination and it was only in this last week I discovered how very little I actually know about it, which came as something of a shock.

While watching Gary Rhodes new series, Rhodes Across India (LifeStyle FOOD, Tuesdays, 8.30pm), an alarming epiphany hit. I know virtually nothing about one of the most popular cuisines in the world. To make matters worse, I know roughly the same amount regarding Chinese cookery, probably the most popular cuisine in the world. Don't get me wrong, I do know certain things about them, but not to the same extent that I know other, most notably European, cuisines.

I need to see my doctor in a hurry; I think I need to live to about 500 or so.
  posted at 10:44 am

At 2:31 pm, Blogger Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

There are definitely some of the same rules that apply to both blogging and writing for publication: don't write about something you know nothing about; become a good writer, and you can write about anything; focus, focus, focus! I'm absolutely confident that you will bread into writing for publication. Just keep sending things out to editors!

At 10:03 pm, Blogger stickyfingers said...

Neil - Blogging is pretty much just airing your thoughts in the breeze. I know that in my blog posts I can waffle somewhat, free of the constraints of professional writing. That really appeals to me.

The most important thing I find in writing professionally though, is that gathering your facts and presenting them in a concise, engaging way is mandatory. Sometimes in order to do this you must have 'an angle'.

That skill keeps the ball rolling through the piece you're writing and carries the reader eagerly and easily to the next paragraph. You can use an analogy or an acute observation, a point of humour or context as a vehicle, which will stop your piece from becoming dry and hard to plow through.

In reading your blog, I find the posts where you draw from your personal experience the most engaging and fascinating. And you know what? I've really missed your presence.

At 5:16 am, Blogger Scott at Real Epicurean said...

I didn't know Gary Rhodes has a new series out...I also love Indian food, so thanks for that!

I'm sure you won't need to live to quite 500. You seem far further than I am!

At 8:06 am, Blogger Gigi said...

And here was me thinking you were a professional food writer! I've always found your writing to be warm, witty and above all informative in a very accessible way. I think this is just great, Neil!

At 1:36 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

> one needs to know when to reign in the words

One also needs to know how to spell words properly. It's 'rein', not 'reign'.


At 8:25 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi lydia, I think that sending out of a lot of stuff just might be key. Persistance and patience!

Hi jane, good advice. I think you're dead right about the angle or hook, it's what breathes life into a piece. Thanks for your kind words too.

Hi scott, nothing like a good curry! I'm sure that after the first 100 years it all merges.

Hi gigi, thank you so much. You wouldn't happen to be an editor by the way?

Hi kevin, thanks, just sacked the editor of that piece; he left the building sobbing.

At 10:36 pm, Blogger thanh7580 said...

Hi Neil, your article is extremely timely in terms of what I can currently thinking about. I was talking to Duncan from Syrup and Tang (you might have met hima the first bloggers banquet) about just this topic of writing more professionally. To write professionally, you do have to do a lot more research.

Sticky is right that blogs are usually a way to air our views. I find I do that in all my blog post and don't sit down with a pad and structure my posts. I just write what I think on the fly and sometimes there isn't a strong point to the whole post.

I remember back when I was doing History, the teacher used to keep stressing to us that we really had to structure our pieces to make strong arguments or just relay our message clearly. I must go back to some of that to try and improve some posts. For other posts, I still like the casual nature in which I write.

The English language when used correctly (I'm not one of those people) can be very powerful. Using the write word can make all the difference to the message you are trying to convey. There are subtle differences to all words, as I have learnt recently about the words "amicable" and "amiable". On the surface, they seem the same, but there are subtle differences.

At 12:02 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the best tip i can offer on writing professionally for the papes is to NEVER ever rely on the last paragraph wrap up to have your article really sing.

Subbies so often cut a last para.



At 11:21 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Neil. There's also the change in publishing trends to contend with. Anything which goes against the prevailing lifestyle doctrine doesn't see much light of day anymore... wouldn't surprise me if your fats piece transgressed on that point. Thinking about stuff doesn't win points, it seems.


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