May 24, 2011

It Turns Two, and I’m Trying

My heart is throbbing, and my head feels giddy. I don’t know where to begin with. I dread writing this, and, in all honesty, I never thought I’d be writing this.

People, this blog turns two today!

A year ago, due to a tight schedule, I was late to mark this big day down on here, for this tiny space I’d carved for myself two years ago in the boundless, expanding cyber world.

The Commencement ceremony is just about to begin ...

When I started this blog, I was a jobless fresh grad in the States. I had a mass communication degree in one hand and, in the other, a few years of training in journalism and copywriting. I was actively seeking job, but I was also not quite sure what to do with myself yet. (Remember the job market back then was gloomier, even?)

What I now do know of, though, is that my college years in the States had been formative. I was rediscovered in the kitchen; I was rewritten through language and words. Since then, food and writing have been taking center stage in my life. I knew that whatever I pursue, it’s got to do with food and words.

Unquestionably food blogging was a great answer to that. I’d wanted to write on a blog for the longest but was also intimidated by such a seemingly daunting commitment. That was why, when I was in college, I’d chosen not to blog because I was already writing for a student-run newspaper, my senior thesis, and other academic papers. Plus, I was held back by the language barrier that seemed to bother me. I’m not a native English speaker to begin with.

Then, the instant I discovered Molly Wizenberg’s Orangette and read her words, I was, for some inexplicable reason, startled. As strange as it may sound, I felt like I got punched on the face — and the blow was AMAZING!
My best advice is to write. Write honestly and thoughtfully about what moves you. Start a blog, keep a journal — whatever works for you. Just keep writing, and have fun with it. Set high standards for yourself, and work hard to meet them. Try to always write better, smarter, tighter. Read good writing and try to figure out what makes it work. Read up on book proposals and literary agencies, research other books and writers in your field, work hard, and stick your neck out. Definitely stick your neck out. And keep your fingers crossed.

Her words were like a mysterious force that — bam! — drove me to Blogger to create this blog on May 24, 2009, in that small efficiency apartment I once lived in. And the next day I’d written on here my first piece of food writing on a condensed milk pound cake. (I just reread it. My cheeks feel hot.)

Looking back into the archives on this blog, I’m astounded by how much I’ve evolved, be it in my baking and cooking, palate, writing, or thinking. I realized I’m not as pastries-savvy as I’d thought, that I don’t have the patience for details, and that I tend to stray from one recipe to another. Though I may be some homely snob who’s all for good home cooking, l actually enjoy learning about different cultures through, especially, food. I am, at heart, a writer who loves to cook and bake and photograph her food. (My cheeks still feel hot. Dammit.)

Photoshooting Session #2: Simple Cantonese-Style Steamed Chicken

I seriously can’t believe this blog has made it to today, because over the year, I’d undergone bouts of meltdown — due to career, relationships, and uncertainty about my future — and was on the verge of giving up on writing this blog. Along the way, the devil’s advocate came knocking on my door.

Who am I writing for?

Do my words even get read?

Why am I writing on here then?

Okay. I have this paranoia fear running through me, and have been feeling discouraged.

I’d tried to get myself back up every time I tumbled. I felt burned out and lost, and yet I still found myself sitting in front of the computer and write, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. Every time, I had barely an idea of what to write about, but I needed to write. I must write — like what breathing and drinking water are to you, me, and every other living thing.

You see, writing isn’t something that occurs in me naturally. Over the years, with practice as well as pointers and encouragement from my professors and fellow writers, I mustered up courage and forged ahead with writing. (Not that my writing and English are flawless now.) Every time I finish writing and self-editing, I’d exult with a sense of accomplishment. Had I not gratified myself through writing, especially in a long time, uneasiness would haunt me. Writing is so part of me, and this blog helps hold me accountable to writing regularly, even after work hours.

In those aimless days, even with only the faintest idea of what my future holds, I knew I had to be a writer (though I’d also tinkered with the idea of becoming a chef). In fact, the first jobs I applied for were, mostly, writer positions: magazine writer, copywriter, corporate writer, technical writer, and journalist. But now, while in the midst of greater self discovery, I believe I’m more of a food writer, and I perform best in a corporate-stress-free, no-interruption environment.

So, this blog has become an outlet for me to write with the most freedom and latitude and with the least interruption. This blog is where I can find my true self outside of the pretentious corporate world and the dehumanizing rat race of the brand-conscious society I’m living in.

Chives

This blog has also led me to you, my reader — known or silent. I’ve got to admit I like the satisfaction flowing from reading the emails and comments you’ve left on this blog. But sometimes I hear from you and other times do not, so my heart is teetering between certainty and uncertainty. It’s taking me an ocean of faith to believe that someone out there is reading my words.

Still, as I tried to stand up from every fall, the heartfelt and encouraging words from you came gushing toward me like water from a hydrant. Every word counts. They are comforting and so powerful that you, too, have pulled me back from faltering faith over and over.

Today begins my third year of blogging — another year of untold stories from my romancing with food and words. I really, really want to share with you a truckload of good and tested recipes from my kitchen, including the two perfectly chewy-crisp chocolate chip cookies that will make you swoon and ooooooooh. I don’t know how long this blog is going to last, though. The road hasn’t been easy, but I’m trying.

Oh, I think I can hear you. Can you hear me, too?

42 comments:

pickyin @ LifeIsGreat said...

From a blogger who's been at it for 8 years, I know what it takes. You have a voice and I enjoy reading your stories. Here's to many more years to come!

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

2 years, that's an important milestone! Mine will be coming soon... Thanks for sharing orangette's words .. So simple yet so compelling. Hey you are beginning to sound like a bitter jaded old lady with 'pretentious corporate world and dehumanizing rat chasing, brand conscious society' ! You are still too young to utter funny things like these... It is not as bad... A lot depends on how you want to conduct yourself... You can still be free even when you are in the society.. Acquire patience and grace...and maintain a free and simple mind.

Lisa H. said...

Congratulations on turning 2 :D

Small Small Baker said...

Congrats on your 2nd blog anniversary! Please continue writing and sharing with us your wonderful recipes. I know there are still lots more that you have not finished writing. Take your time and I'm always here to read your stories. :)

Pei-Lin said...

@Pickyin: *LOL* Eight years?! Now that's a LONG time: 2 years x 4 = 8 years ... Thank you so much for the feedback and for the encouraging words. Same goes for you! You're on your way to another eight years, so that would add up to a total of 16 years. *Gasp*

@Shirley: I remember we started out at about the same time. Haha! I'm always a grumpy old lady at heart ... Zzz ... The thing is, you see, I'm still trying to figure out what works best for me for a career, to work for something I feel comfortable with and happy about. And, I've always been a late bloomer, and I'm not an extrovert and a talkative person when compared to many others. Yea, patience and grace are important. A free and simple mind ... Okay. I shall remember those. Thank you. =)

Pei-Lin said...

@Lisa: Thank you! Have a good day. =)

@SSB: Thank you for the wishes! Thank you for the feedback! Thank you so much for the encouraging words. Really. This blogging thing seems rather funny to me now ... Zzz ...

Anncoo said...

Congratulations and Happy 2nd Blog Anniversary Pei Lin :)

CaThY said...

Pei Lin!
Happy 2nd blog anniversary ;)

Pei-Lin said...

Hi, Anncoo and Cathy. Thank you so much for the well wishes. =)

Stephane / Very Good Recipes said...

I discovered your blog only days ago, but I'm very happy to have 2 years worth of your great recipes to explore. :)

Congratulations and please continue for many many other years!

pigpigscorner said...

oh my..I can finally comment again!! Happy 2nd anniversary! Keep up the good work and please don't stress yourself too much :P take care!

ann said...

Congratulations!!!!! Don't stop here, keep on going. I enjoyed reading your blog and you probably won't notice my present but I am always here whenever you have a new post. : ) One of your silent reader from Vancouver, Canada

Pei-Lin said...

@Stéphane: Thanks for the encouraging words! Let's see how things go from here ... It's been nice talking to you. Even though I've been here for two years, I blog at a very slow pace because I'd rather take things at my own pace. Maybe some others may consider there aren't a lot to find here? I'm verbose, actually. So, a lot of words?! Haha!

@Ann (pigpigscorner): Haha! You're one funny girl! No wonder you were tweeting about all these Blogger fiascoes yesterday. Thank you for being supportive all along. Your words mean a whole lot to me. =)

Pei-Lin said...

@Ann (of Vancouver, B.C.): Hello! I woke up to these words of yours this morning, and, you know what, I SMILED! Thank you for cheering me up amid this mess that I've been stuck in. Yes! Yes! I'd only know of your presence had you left your voice here. I dunno how to express my gratitude for you but with a big THANK-YOU! Take care!

babe_kl said...

Happy Blogniversary. Wish you many more to come ;-)

ICook4Fun said...

Happy 2nd Blog Anniversary!! It is always fun reading your post and see what you cook and bake.

edith said...

Young lady, the working society is always tough. Take it with a positive note as part of growing process, I think then you will learn to enjoy it.

Happy Birthday to your blog. gosh, i felt old by reading your post. LOLz.

Jen (Tastes of Home) said...

Congrats again Pei Lin! I've actually taken (a few) breaks from my blog over the 4 years my blog started due to various reasons similar to what you listed as well..but I don't think I will do that again as blogging is my creative outlet now, sometimes it is hard to write when I'm not inspired but I will definitely strive to continue even if I only have say 2 readers left..this is because it is really FUN at least learning about new cuisine like you mentioned and I'm totally enjoying learning about food styling and photography so I can see myself doing this for a long time.

I hope you keep this up and very glad to have 'met' you! :D You're doing a great job and don't worry!

pearlnyc said...

Congratulations on your 2nd year anniversary ! Looking forward to more of your mouth watering recipes and beautiful photography.

pearlnyc said...

Congratulations on your 2nd anniversary. Looking forward to more of your mouth watering recipes and beautiful photography ! Truly inspiring !

Bakertan said...

happy 2nd blogoversary! do keep on writing and blogging. You're doing great and I'm sure all readers derive pleasure in reading your entries, me included =]

Jiayou and great job!

Jo said...

Hi Pei-Lin, congrats on your 2nd anniversary or birthday or whatever you may call it. I agree with what Shirley has posted. Don't join the "rat" race and become a "faceless" human being. You may always been different so maintain that uniqueness even though some people might find it weird. In fact it is this that makes you stand out and will always be remembered.

Ann from Vancouver said...

I am not very good in expressing myself. Will try to voice out more so you know my present. Ha! Ha! Take care.

Pei-Lin said...

@babe_kl, Gert: Thank you so much for the kind and encouraging words. These words say a lot. Thank you.

@pearlnyc: Thank you! Nice of you dropping by to say hello. I really appreciate that. Thanks a million for the encouraging words. Thank you!

@Edith: Okay. I shall take note of your advice. I'm just trying to figure out what works best for me when it's literally impossible for me to end up doing what I want (i.e. to write I want to write about) for a career in, especially, this society. I want to be happy, too, besides for the paycheck. You're always a gorgeous, young mama lar. Why worry so much? You've got a husband who loves you and two kids who need and love you just as much. When there are some ladies who are lost in search of the right man in life ... =_=""

Pei-Lin said...

@Jen: Thank you so much for the kind words and for sharing your thoughts, which I very much appreciate and enjoy reading them. I like exchange of ideas and thoughts. Well, everyone blogs for his/her reasons, and I should respect that uniqueness and individuality. And, well, if you find pleasure and enjoyment in doing what you're doing, please carry on with that. I guess both of us love international cuisines. Good to have "stumbled" upon you, too, on Twitter first!

@Ann from Vancouver: Hey. Please have more faith in yourself. Okay? I myself am already shy enough, so don't wind up to be like me. Not good. Ha! If you wanna say anything to me here, please be my guest! I'd be more than happy to hear from you!

Pei-Lin said...

@Zhuoyuan: Thank you. Grateful for being supportive all along. Sorry for what happened. Lately I haven't been on that IM, and it's good that I haven't been wasting a lot of time there. But more on Twitter and concentrating on writing! Skyping with my long-distance friends, if there's a need for that. Feeling less pathetic in that sense. Haha! If you want to Skype, you email me; otherwise, it's okay. Take care. Hope you're doing well.

@Jo: Haha! Sounds like my wedding anniversary instead. Very old ... *LOL* Well, to be honest, Singapore's and Hong Kong's rat race are much worse than K.L. ... So imagine if I were in any one of these places, I'd have gone nuts by now ... I still prefer the States, and I uphold individuality. It's hard to really incorporate freedom of expression in Asian societies, I think. That's why, many people in this society I've been living in, once again, for close to two years, are finding me misfit; I've been labeled "overly Americanized." Well. Thank you for the encouraging words. Yes, be myself! Pei-Lin will always be Pei-Lin. I'm a shy writer. So ... =)

Alice said...

hi Pei Lin, congrats for the 2nd yr anniv of your blog!
great blog that u have, really!
:)

Happy Homebaker said...

Congrats on your 2nd blog anniversary! Although it is only 2 yrs, but reading your blog entries make me feel that I have known you for years :)
Keep up with the great job, be it writing, cooking and baking.

Anonymous said...

Hi Pei-Lin,
Congrats! you're 2+yrs young.
I may not read your blog all the time, but I check back whenever I can to catch up (there's something about your blog that keeps me wanting to check back)your honesty and sincerity will lead you a long way.
Thanks for posting your recipes. I love them and your photos are beautiful. Keep up the good work you've been doing.
Supporting you all the way (加油!)
C.K. ^.^

Passionate About Baking said...

Congrats on your 2nd blog anniversary! It's only 2nd year, but it seems to me you have been writing for a long time! Your blog is forever so informative and so full of expressions. I hope to continue reading your posts. Keep up the 'entertainment'.

Pei-Lin said...

Hey, all. I apologize for the late replies. I was away attending to something else. Hope you'd had a wonderful weekend. May this brand-new week be a gorgeous one for you.

@Alice, HHB: Thank you! Really. You've made my day. I feel reassured now to keep this blog running and alive. =)

@C.K.: Hey! Haven't heard from you for ages. I woke up to these words of yours on a morning a few days ago, and I smiled. Thank you for cheering me up and for the occasional emails and comments that you'd left me. All these mean a lot! Really. I feel more encouraged to keep this blog going. Take care! Hope your bunnies are doing fine. =)

@Jane L.: Thank you so much!

Su-yin said...

Happy 2nd blog birthday!! I think it's important that you have somewhere to write and express your thoughts, especially since you love writing so much. And of course, there will always be people who will read what you write! *waves*

noobcook said...

happy bloggoversary :)

Pei-Lin said...

@Su-yin: Hey! Thank you so much for the encouraging words. I really appreciate them. Take care!

@Wiffy: Thank you! =)

DG said...

Happy 2nd Blogniversary, Pei Ling!

Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets said...

Congrats and you have a long-time fan here. Love your blog dear =D

Pei-Lin said...

@Doris and Xiaolu: Thank you so much for the kind words. =)

lena said...

Dear pei lin, yes, i'm reading you! Even though i'm late but i never forget your blog! I'm always amazed at the way you write and am suprised that you mentioned that language was a barrier for you then. I can really feel you are writing so whole heartedly, you're doing excellent! Relax and i really hope you dont push yourself too hard! take my words, ok?

Pei-Lin said...

Dear Lena,

So sorry for the late reply. I've been busier ...

Thank you! I almost cried when I first read your words. Thank you for being supportive. Okay. I promise you; I'm taking things slower, at my own pace now.

Take care. Have a lovely week. =)

-- Pei-Lin

Quay Po Cooks said...

Pei Lin: How com I am so late to congratulate you?? Shame on you Quay Po! Hey late better than never. hehe..

Congrats on your 2nd bloggersary and to many many more years to come. I remember those words of Orangette. You showed me her blog when you were at my house.

It all depends on what you are looking for when you blog. For me, I know very well I am not a writer but I want to write and share. I don't worry too much about perfect writing, I just write honestly and from my heart.

There is no doubt you are a good writer, whoever reads your blog will know that.

Pei Lin said...

For such a good writer that you are, you should never stop writing!! Cheers to two wonderful years and for many more to come!

Pei-Lin said...

@Veron: Please don't ever say that! Shhh ... It's the thought that counts ... Yea! I showed you her blog when I was at your place. And as for you, just do whatever that you want and pleases you. I know you're here mainly to share and interact with others of the same interests. Thank you for the encouraging words. Thank you. Take care. Like I said, I'll touch base wih you with updates and, possibly, a get-together with you and Gary. I still have that pumpkin pie idea with me!

@Pei Lin: Thank you for the encouraging words. I hope I won't lose the momentum to write on here ... =)

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