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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Julie and Julia and how blogging made Julie Powell famous

I’ve been going to bed too late.
My little baby girl has been waking up too early.
She learned to crawl out of her crib at the ripe old age of 22 months. 
This morning, my 9 year-old son Payson told me at 11:30 last night, his little sister crawled out of her crib and into the kitchen, where he was getting a drink. "Did you put her back in her crib?" my husband asks. "No, she just walked back into her room and shut the door," replies Payson. Interpretation? My baby spent the night sleeping on her floor.  Payson has also been lectured on the idea that although his sister can crawl out of the crib, she cannot crawl back in.
She was up at 6:30am.
Let’s just say, she’s not doing to well and I might have a few bags under my eyes too. 
I’m reading Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell and am enjoying every minute of it.  
It’s a bit vulgar, but if you look through the muck it’s a really clever story.  The counselor and I saw the movie Julie and Julia several years ago and it was a catalyst in starting My Dear Trash.
In the book Julie and Julia, Julie Powell writes about the year she spent cooking all 526 of Julia Child’s recipes from the cook bookMastering the Art of French Cooking.  I am not much interested in the cooking aspect of the book as I am in the idea that she wrote about her experience.  She took ordinary every day task and made them readable, exciting and even suspenseful.  Her take on eggs is especially entertaining.
She contemplates the diary of Sam Pepys (1633-1703), an English naval administrator and Member of Parliament who is now most famous for the diary he kept.  She writes “What I think is that Sam Pepys wrote down all the details of his life for nine years because the very act of writing them down made them important, or at least singular.  Threatening to kill his wife’s dog for peeing on the new rug might have made him feel a bit sheepish and mean, but write it down and you have a hilarious domestic anecdote for the centuries.”
I too find everyday experiences become most interesting when written down.  For example, humor evolves where there was none, a hero appears out of the blue or an idea erupts into a solid life change.  Contemplating this idea, I considered exploring each of the following topics:
How when I eat trail mix, I have to have at least one M&M in every bite or it doesn’t taste like a treat.  Why is that?
Or how the Kardashian are the most famous people because they film their everyday experiences.  Amazing how compelling it is.
Or how my husband gets thrilled when he finds an image of a face in something he is eating.  Somewhat juvenile or totally adorable?  You know what this writer thinks.
Or how I’ve recently discovered Ezekiel bread and it’s changed the way I feel about carbohydrates.  
Or how Reef’s little friend threw a fit when I gave him a drink in a sippy cup.  Apparently, this 3 year-old only accepts liquid if it comes in a big boy cup.
When Julie starts her blog, she emails the link to family and friends, so the first time she receives a comment on her blog from a total stranger, she’s a little freaked out.  Eventually, she feels a commitment to write every day “for her readers.”  What does her husband Eric think about this?
“I think the dozen people who click onto your Web site while they take their coffee breaks will manage to carry on it they don’t get to read about you sautéing thorny vegetables in butter for one more day. (pg. 82)” 
I have to admit, I’ve had that self-propelled pressure, the write for “my readers.”  Silly, but true; however, I think the pressure to blog comes more from the idea of a commitment to writing, to sharing our experiences with anyone who will slightly care in any way possible.
Through the year, Julie’s following grows.  When she has the opportunity to be interviewed by Christian Science Monitor, she writes about the ups and downs of blog writing again, saying “I had an audience, disembodied and tiny though it might be.  I wasn’t much afraid of writing something that would make me look pathetic or incompetent, nor of getting myself sued.  But I didn’t want to look, you know, conceited.  Because under the sheer terror, I was felling pretty damned proud of myself.” 
I find it interesting that Julia Child did not endorser the Julie/Julia project.  Julia Child's editor, Judith Jones, said in an interview: "Flinging around four-letter words when cooking isn't attractive, to me or Julia. She didn't want to endorse it. What came through on the blog was somebody who was doing it almost for the sake of a stunt. She would never really describe the end results, how delicious it was, and what she learned. Julia didn’t like what she called 'the flimsies.' She didn't suffer fools, if you know what I mean."
Man, I think that statement would have made me cry.  Even without Julia Child’s endorsement, the idea that Julie started a blog, landed a major book deal and eventually a major motion picture is a wonderful success story.


  1. Laura:

    I did and did not like the book. To be honest, after I learned more about Julie Powell, I didn't like her all that much. I read her blog for awhile after reading the book, and it was funny reading posts where she discussed the making of the movie.

    Have you taken a look at her second book?

    I liked the movie a lot. I love Amy Adams and Meryl Streep so thought it was great.

    I can understand the pressure to post on MDT but you know that we are happy to read whatever you write and check out photos you post.

    Are you planning to put that net on Eden's crib like you did with Reef? I'm curious how you figure out solutions for kids who might be totally different. (I only have one child so no experience with parenting more than one kid!)


  2. Well I'm a reader that checks in everyday so please keep writing.

  3. For some reason, I seem to hve problems leaving comments on this blog, so I will try again now. I want to tell you Laura, that with every post you write, I can FEEL and experience your words, like you were standing there telling me in person. Guess this comment has nothing to do with the book, but are a fabulous writer, so please do not let go of that dream.

  4. Through your writing, Laura, I felt like I knew you before I ever met you. It kind of felt stalker-like, but it also brought a kinship that probably wouldn't have existed any other way. Your tidbits inspire me and I love how you keep it real. Keep writing!!!

  5. Having a baby is a big obligation but a wonderful experience. Anyway, good share. Thanks.