Have you seen the 2009 movie Julie & Julia where Meryl Streep portrays famous cook Julia Child, and Amy Adams plays modern day blogger Julie Powell who is cooking her way through Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking?
To be honest, I watched it just to see Streep’s talked about performance as the quirky Child. I’m a long time fan of good movies and the Oscars. Streep has the record for the most Oscars and will likely increase her lead next month by winning best actress.
But what surprised me was that the movie was actually about how Julia Child, and Julie the blogger, earned their book deals. Suddenly, they have my full attention!
Turns out (at least according to the Hollywood movie) that Julia Child worked on that damn cook book for nine years, with two collaborators, and she fully revised it from beginning to end three times using a type writer, carbon paper, and snail mail, before finding a publisher. That was a little disheartening, and sobering. I’ve been working on my book part time for a year and although I feel like I’ve learned A LOT, I’m not sure my husband will let me get away with waiting another eight to make it happen. Granted, Child’s husband was a foreign diplomat and in that era Julia wasn’t expected to earn a living. She discovered cooking, teaching, and eventually writing cook books as a result of being childless (she wanted them) and bored living in Paris and other amazing cities abroad. Her life is not exactly easy for me to identify with. But, my hope is that modern conveniences like computers, the internet, and caffeine will shorten my time line compared to hers.
Julie the blogger on the other hand blogged for exactly one year (albeit every single day) and got her book deal, with me ironically watching the movie about it only 2 years later. I certainly like her time line better, although I could relate to her only slightly better than Child. Julie was also living without children, she had a full-time job, but I’ve learned since the movie that she also lost her husband over it. The movie alluded to it, and her new book, Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession seems to have confirmed it. I personally want to keep my husband, so I’ll have to be conscientious about controlling my obsession(s).
I think I prefer to hear the stories like Julie’s and J.K. Rowling’s, where the writer had unassuming jobs (or was technically unemployed like me), worked hard for a few years, and then got their break. Granted, I’ve worked very hard all my life, but I’ve only been working at this seriously for a year so I’m trying to push down my current impatient feelings.
Julie’s story is consistent with what everyone is saying about how to get published these days: that you need to have a platform. In this case, Julie’s platform was her blog with a large following, plus some NY newspaper articles, and a subject with broad appeal (French cooking and Julia Child). So, the blog you’re reading now and hopefully, the magazine articles I publish this year, will make up the platform that was lacking when I first sent out my book proposal in October. So please tell your friends to check out my blog. Apparently, my career depends on it.
My goals for the rest of this year are to increase my platform, write more of my memoir, and figure out other agents and publishers to hound with my soon-to-be-updated book proposal. Wish me luck.