Thursday, January 10, 2013

Book review: In Conversation with Exceptional Women, by Monica Bhide

The interview is one of my favorite journalistic style. Through the exchange of questions and answers one may reveal his or her personality and can spontaneously open the doors to his or her real self. In addition, for the reader is more challenging and less boring to read what people really think instead of reading about what some other people assume they are thinking.

I love to read interviews as well, especially on topics that interest me lately, such as food writing or travel or simply inspirational snapshots from people more advanced on the professional writing path. Monica Bhide's book: In Conversation with Exceptional Women: Seeds of Inspiration to Help You Bloom where You Are Planted was exactly what I needed for a good start of the next 12 months. I have the book since the last May, but till a couple of days ago did not feel the need to seriously read it, even though I had the book on my priority reading list for months. My decision to delay the pleasure of lecture was correct, as only now I really feel balanced enough professionally and emotionally to consider seriously the next options in my career and offer myself new challenges.

It does not matter if you are a professional or beginner writer, a woman or a man, and does not matter either if you are a writer or not. The simple and sometimes humble answers offered by the women interviewed by Monica Bhide, an inspirational person and amazing writer herself, will change your perspective at least once during the lecture of the 200 pages of the book. 

The questions are mostly about the background of the authors, the personal recipes about finding motivation and juggling with the personal and professional sides of their life, the message for their 16 yo former self, but also about their favorite foods and the content of their fridge (I found it amazing that the over 50 persons inteviewed rarely shared the same ingredient, except maybe milk). Some were also requested to give a couple of advice for the writers-in-process. 

The definition of success gave by most of them coincides: the freedom to do what you love to do and being your own boss and time manager, and this is my definition too. However, behind any successful story, especially when it comes to writing, there should be a lot of persistence, but also a bit of luck (Andrea Nguyen). Meanwhile, I love the bold line by Ruth Reichl: 'I don't think anyone ever feels really successful. Or at least nobody with a conscience'. 

I have learn something from each of the interview, but I particularly loved: Carla Hall's interview and candid professional mission 'I want to make people happy'; Heidi Swanson's visual perception of the cake; Grace Young's approach according to which when cooking 'you are not only learning a recipe or a culinary secret, but equally observing the unique way each home cook aproaches a recipe'; Jaden Hair's wise advice that embracing failure is a necessary part of a step to success. I completely agree with Lynne Rosetto Kasper's answer when asked what inspires her to cook: 'possibilities, curiosity, new techniques, hunger, sensuality, pleasure, escape, focus, release, and many meals for people I care about'. Do you cope with permanent rejections? 'It does not matter how many rejections you get', said Virginia Willis, 'it only takes one yes'. Nothing helps better the food writer than travel and I am in full resonance with Pam Krauss' advice to writers: 'Travel as often as you can and as widely as you can and keep a journal of your food experiences'.

When I finished the book last night, I felt that I needed more and more such interviews. Maybe Monica will continue with this inspirational adventures, or maybe the readers themselves need to start writing their own stories of success. 

As for me, I have a long long lists of books to read and many recipes to try in the next months and enough inspiration for coping with any rejection. 

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