The Hero's Journey, Through Food Blogging Part II

[This is Part Two of a Previous Post]

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“If what you are following is your own true adventure…then magical guides will appear to help you.”–Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey

In celebration of my two year anniversary, I’ve decided to take a look at my journey through blogging through the lens of the mythic structure*. Starting mid act two of The Blogger as a Mythic Hero, the most valuable gift a beginning blogger can give to themselves is finding a food blogging ally. Perhaps you forge a friendship at a food blogging conference. Maybe you meet someone at a food related event. Regardless the venue, seeking out like minded food writers is important in your heroic journey to self discovery, through blogging.


TWO SIDEKICKS SET OFF TOGETHER

In my personal journey, my blogging life really started once I found a kindred spirit in the blogging world. With my food writing friend and writing partner, Leah of Spicy Salty Sweet in my life, I felt emboldened to try new things. I dove into my favorite Vietnamese cookbook and decided to write a post on being a white girl that loved to cook Asian food.  I wrote a post on Banh Mi, a Vietnamese sandwich I craved, and found my way to a wonderful site called White on Rice. I shared my recipe for their “Battle of the Banh Mi” listings, and began reading their blog with interest. Their charming voice, Vietnamese food adventures, and lives in the far and distant world of Orange County fascinated me.

One day, Todd and Diane–the couple behind the White on Rice blog–sent an email. In it, they asked if I would care to join them for a blogger party at their house. Meeting a large group of bloggers twisted me up in knots. So did the drive. But realizing I had been out of my comfort zone for some time, and needed to expand my horizons, I screwed up my courage and took the plunge into even more unfamiliar waters.

todd and diane

Lucky for me, Orange County wasn’t a dangerous place at all. On the contrary. With Leah, my trusted Scarecrow of this story, by my side, it didn’t take long for the two of us fit in with our gracious hosts. They welcomed us into their home, and within minutes, we realized into their lives for good. Leah and I immediately clicked with Todd and Diane, Matt Bites (a food blogging superstar), and his husband Adam. By the end of the party, the six of us  joked we were like food blogging sextuplets separated by birth (and other mothers!).

I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz as she skipped down the yellow brick road with her trio of friends. I was truly ready to face what came next.

FINDING A MENTOR

Once you have a good blogging ally, the next step is to find a mentor. Attending blogger events, conferences, panels, and impromptu get togethers are a great way to expand your current blogging community and to perhaps meet someone with more knowledge than you. Maybe they will be willing to share what they’ve learned. Maybe they’ll offer a piece of advice. Ask a question. Listen. See what they say. Keep in mind that finding a mentor isn’t an easy thing. It requires patience, humility, and honesty. If you don’t live near a major city, maybe finding a mentorship means reading a well-respected blogger’s advice posts more closely.

If you’re going to ask a mentor for answers, you should be committed to listening and putting their advice to good use. Once I found my mentors, what came next was lots of learning. I discovered there were whole areas of blogging I had neglected to learn. I needed to learn about analytics, blogging platforms, proper tagging, SEO, food styling, and photography essentials. I stepped up my game. I invested in a DSLR and good lens. I kicked my feet, played dumb for a long time, and then finally, switched from Blogger to WordPress.

Thanks to helpful advice of sage blogging and food photographer friends, my knowledge base quickly expanded. As my experiences grew, the more prepared I was for facing the big challenges ahead.

ACT II (END OF YEAR TWO)

“The deeper you go, and the closer you get to the final realization…that there is everywhere a benign power supporting you in your superhuman passage.”–Joseph Campbell

After two years of writing Food Woolf, things are really just beginning. My blog has lead me to writing jobs, freelance work, and blogging events. I’ve had the chance to meet some incredible people, travel to beautiful places, taste astonishing food and wine, and enjoy the benefits of pursuing the right creative path. This blog has helped me take part in international conversations, has gotten me nominated for a food writing award in the same category as my food writing inspiration Orangette, and has forged friendships that will last forever.

The blog continues to transform my life, especially now that I have found some footing in this once unfamiliar world. I am now finally able to face some truly great challenges and perhaps slay some dragons.

According to mythic story structure expert Christopher Vogler, the next chapter in any great heroic struggle will include such scenes as: The Crisis, Points of Tension, Witness to Sacrifice, Facing Demons, Crisis of the Heart, Balance, Facing the Greatest Fear, Standing up to Authority and Death of the Ego…Good times.

I look forward to exploring all of Act II and Act III with all of you.

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In celebration of my two year anniversary, I’ll be participating in a small panel discussion called Blogging 101 at Surfas in Culver City this Sunday. I’ll be there with Gaby of What’s Gaby Cooking, Erika of In Ericka’s Kitchen, Patti Londre of Worth the Whisk, and Clémance of Gourmandise Desserts to share what we’ve learned about blogging. If you live in LA and would be interested in coming, please swing by Gourmandise Desserts to get information about the event.


*Thank you to Joseph Campbell and Christopher Vogler for story arch inspiration and mythic structure

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Brooke Burton nominated for best food writing

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Food Woolf Written by:

Brooke Burton is an Los Angeles-based restaurant professional and hospitality expert. She is a freelance food writer, speaker, and co-author of The Food Blog Code of Ethics.

16 Comments

  1. December 1
    Reply

    beautifully written. I remember when I first got into food blogging you were one of my first blogs that I read on a daily basis, or at least every single time you had a new post! And I remember when I had dinner at Tavern and I hadnt met you yet and I was like, “omg is that FoodWoolf?” but I was too nervous to introduce myself! And then there was BlogHer… oh BlogHer… and all those delicious margaritas… and things just went uphill since meeting you at Leah!

    HAPPY 2 YEARS!!! I can’t wait to see what is in store for you next!

    have I mentioned that i love you and i can’t wait to see you on Sunday! (p.s. the link to me on the post is broken – just an FYI)

  2. December 1
    Reply

    really, really loved your sharing the whole journey thus far, especially this part: “Meeting a large group of bloggers twisted me up in knots.” I felt that way for a long time, and I am still always utterly terrified by going out to meet new people. Not sure why, as every time I actually meet bloggers, it turns out to be so much less intimidating than I always build it up to be in my head. Guess that’s probably why I’m a blogger to begin with – just hiding out in the corner behind my laptop :)

    congratulations on two years… here’s to many many more!

  3. Beautifully written and Joseph Campbell is a fav of mine, too. Ironically, being new to this, YOU are one of my “blogs to watch and learn from”. When I met you at the LA Blogger’s lunch I was already your fan and was trying not to over-exude; afraid I’d be an enormous geek-fan. I hope I have the chance to get to know you better and I’m always ready to learn from inspiring writers like YOU.

  4. December 1
    Reply

    That day was one of the sweetest of my entire life…. I felt like I was reunited with my family. Because we all have become family!

    A big giant congrats to you Brooke on the 2 year anniversary!!!!!!!!!

    Can’t wait to be silly with you in Mexico.

  5. December 1
    Reply

    I love that you are a reader. I spend a lot of time with my nose stuck in a book. I get your literary references! My Blog is barely a year old but I look forward to all you have described. GREG

  6. December 2
    Reply

    What a great post–both of them. I loved all the Campbell references. How clever of you. Well done.

    It’s an amazing thing, isn’t it? I’ve loved watching my friends lives being transformed through writing about their passions–and my own life as well. There’s a little bit of magic to it. Now, when I see a talented new blogger start up, I can’t wait to see where the journey will take them. And where future chapters will take us all.

    Cheers to you!

  7. It’s funny, because when I’ve read your blog I’ve always perceived you as being one of those bloggers who KNOW what they’re doing (as opposed to me — I’m just making it up as I go along). Nice to hear that you had uncertainties too. I look forward to the next chapters!

  8. December 2
    Reply

    This is truly inspiring. I’m a writer by profession myself, but have only been blogging a few months. I’m still making it up as I go, but that heroic moment of the call makes sense. For me, I guess it was a night I had just tossed things together out of the pantry because our busy lives screwed up our plans for dinner. I thought it would make a good story and, well, the story continues…

    John
    Chef Dad

  9. December 4
    Reply

    Happy 2 years! Here’s to many more to come!

  10. December 4
    Reply

    What a great series of posts. Congratulations on two years of food blogging!! What an exciting ride it seems to have been for you. I really enjoy your thoughtful writing and sharing your experiences through the Hero’s Journey (one of my favorite lessons back when I was in school). Have fun at the panel on Sunday. I wish I could attend!

  11. December 6
    Reply

    I’m so inspired by these two posts. Thanks so much for writing them.

    – Alison

  12. December 7
    Reply

    There’s a common bond that ties us all and your beautiful post re-affirms it all. Venturing in new territory is always scary, but taking risks and chances leads to amazing new treasures and friendships. Blogging has definitely been life changing for us and adding special people like you to this powerful community of support makes it all worth while. xoxoxo
    Let’s all help and support one another through our personal journey’s via blogging!

  13. December 8
    Reply

    Brooke these two posts made me so hopefully! My blog isn’t even 1 yr. old, but it took me so long to really get started on it…and it has so far been a fun journey. I can’t wait to reach my 2yr and see where I’m at. Happy 2 year bloggiversary!

  14. Rich Desserts
    December 12
    Reply

    Brooke,
    I spin the dial, pulling back on the jeweled lever of the archive time machine, tunneling all the way back through this heroic foodwoolf pilgrimage… savoring beautiful polychromatic aspherically focused light and shallow depth of field, delightful verbiage and virtual vittles mesmerize my hungry soul. Back, back I go, to two years ago, to your first story on the grounded sense and sensibility of that New England staple, butternut squash. All it means to an Initiate. Writing roots go deep in Reality. And I speak to the spirit of one dead Northern European white male mentor, surely enjoying your passionate food blogger life journey here: “Joseph Campbell, eat your heart out!”

  15. I’ve been doing this for a month now…so much to learn! This was an invaluable and generous outpouring of advice. Thanks so much… I am going to work on finding a suitable mentor.
    The one thing I can say about the blogging community is that they are remarkably open and giving…it is really extraordinary all of the encouragement that pours out.
    I hope to meet many new kindred spirits to share with and support

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