Cool Moves and Writing

I have an 8-year old friend. She’s a lively third-grader who has a strong sense of self. One evening I was babysitting her and she shared a list of odd-sounding names. “Back Stand,” “Over-Under Flip,” “The Round About-er,” “Twist, Un-twist, Upside-down Split.”

“Gymnastics,” she explained. “I made up some cool moves.”

I was already curious so I was happy when she offered to demonstrate. The “Over-Under Flip” turned out to be more of what most people would consider a flop.

The “Upside-down Split” had her jumping up and down, twirling around and making a run for the couch. She plopped on the couch, on her back, and lifted her legs in the air, splitting them apart, and waving them around. (Then she fell off the couch, but she assured me that was not part of the move.)

Cool moves, indeed.

My grown-up mind recognized that each of her moves was merely a failed attempt at some other real gymnastic move.

My creative mind jumped for joy at her way of turning a challenge into a personal, unique success.

She could not perform a cartwheel, flip, head stand, or split so she adapted them to suit her abilities. Suddenly, she was a success. In fact, it’s safe to say that she is the best Over-Under Flipper around!

When we put our writing dreams into motion, we are often given specific rules to follow, steps to take and books to read in order to make it big. In fact, we are also often handed someone else’s definition of making it big.

We could follow someone else’s map to success.

Or we can look at where we are and what we are interested in, and build our own “cool moves” as food writers. My best friends flip through Bon Appetit for inspiration to create their own magnificent dishes. I look through farmer’s markets and my pantry to uncover exciting, fresh recipes. Good news! We’re all correct in our approach.

Early on in my food writing, I ran into someone who told me that there were only five food magazines available for food writers, and nothing else mattered. On the other hand, I’ve seen food writers start with a free newsletter and turn their weekly recipe offerings into a cookbook. Others write for sites, weekly newspapers, online syndicators and ezines to build up both a following and published clips. Still others write articles about food for camping, leisure, parenting, regional, and travel magazines.

My 8-year old friend’s philosophy helped me refocus for the new year. Instead of focusing on a few markets for food writers and comparing my work with others’ successes, I plan to return to writing culinary mystery shorts, personal essays (always about food) and working on my cookbook. These are the “Over-Under Flippers” that fill me with joy.

Now it’s your turn.

What would you do if you didn’t feel you had to compare your performance with anyone else’s?

copyright 2006 Pamela White


When not performing her non-gymnastic cool moves, Pamela White thrives as a writing parent of three children, five cats and one dog. She publishes two ezines, The Writing Parent at and Food Writing at . She teaches online writing classes from both sites and has had over 600 articles published in newspapers, online and in magazines including Writer’s Digest, ByLine, Home Cooking, Low Carb Energy, and in anthologies. Her short mysteries have been published in both print and online.

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