Day 72: Learning to Ask the Right Questions
This morning, at 1:30 a.m., when I was finishing off yet another pile of dishes, I was thinking about a question a friend asked me the other day. "What do you know now, that you wish you'd known at the beginning of the cookbook process?" (Good question!) At the time, I laughed and said, "I wish I'd known how hard it would be!!" But upon thinking about it more, I'm glad I didn't realize just how much of myself this project would require. Had I truly grasped the mountain I was attempting to climb, I might never have taken the first step. But of course now that I'm deep into the trek, there's no turning back! It's the hardest - and best - thing I've ever done.
But here's something I've noticed. It's really hard to share with people just what exactly I'm doing, day-by-day. There's a myriad of things I could talk about: about carrying 4 bags of groceries and trying to hail a cab, only to have one break and spill its contents into the road. I could tell you about this amazing, vintage cast-iron pan I found for our photo shoot made for 11, not 12, muffins. I could talk about the cool shots we're getting, the recipes I'm still tweaking, and the days that I feel like I have nothing to say on the blog. I could share with you about some exciting meetings coming up, or the disappointing news I received this week about an opportunity I was hoping would pan out.
But when people ask me "How's the cookbook going?" my mind totally blanks and I usually say, "Good!" The next question is usually, "Are you almost finished?" which causes me to have a mini panic attack inside and say, "I'm getting there...!" The finally question might be, "When's it coming out?" to which I'll reply, "Hopefully sometime in 2015," which sounds totally anticlimactic. I leave these sort of conversations feeling frustrated and insecure, and the person asking the questions probably wonders why I didn't have more to say.
I read a fantastic blog post recently that talks about how important it is to learn to ask the right questions. More specific ones that show that you really care. The more general the question, the more general the response you're going to get. And I am SO guilty of doing this exact same thing!! I ask people all the time (especially if I haven't seen them in awhile) "How are you?!" or "What's going on?" These questions are so broad, and encompass such a wide swath of emotions and subjects, that the response I'm most likely to get is: "Good!" and "Not too much...just staying busy." (Wow, that was a thrilling coversation.)
In 2014, I want to learn how to ask better questions, and how to give more thoughtful responses. I want people to know by my questions that I truly care about them, and about what's going on in their life. So in the spirit of this topic, I'd love to share with you all the answers to the questions I rarely get asked...
What are you loving most about the cookbook project?
I love the creativity, and the chance to pursue a dream. I love getting to write every day, and to share my journey with you all. The total highlight, though, is hearing from somebody that a post - or the project as a whole - is an inspiration, and that it's challenging them to live their lives in a different, more intentional way. Actually when I receive a comment, an email, a FB message, whatever from any of you all, it totally makes my day!!
My other favorite part of the project is seeing the beautiful images that Signe and I are creating...it's really exciting to see our vision come to life.
What's the hardest part?
The STAIRS!! Seriously, lugging all the groceries and props and laundry up and down five flights of stairs is crazy. But, given that I no longer have time to work out, I shouldn't be complaining! Ha.
Also dishes...piles and piles of them. And the sensation that I'm always behind - on blogging, on recipe-testing, on emails. It feels a little overwhelming sometimes!
What recipe have you made recently that you really love?
I made a spinach turkey lasagna last weekend that I was pretty excited about. I wasn't even testing it for the book, but I think I'll have to add it. :) Oh, and the ginger cookies...those were some of my favorites!
What do you wish you could have done differently?
I'd have studied more early on about social media and marketing. It's like another full-time job trying to learn and implement all of this stuff, but that's the key to spreading the word! Also, I would delegate more. I have a hard time asking for help, so I tend to burn myself out.
What are you hoping will happen with this in the coming months?
I hope that I can sign with the right liteary agent, who can help me find the right publisher for this book. I'd love to finish up the recipe testing and shooting this spring, so I can actually write the rest of the manuscript. I'd like to start some sort of campaign to inspire people to make dinner for friends once a week and share pictures, stories, and recipes on the blog. Still brainstorming...
Now it's your turn!! Could you help me answer the following questions? This blog - and this cookbook - is for YOU and I want to get to know you better! You can email me your responses at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you - it would mean the world if you took a few minutes to tell me a bit about yourself, and give me a little feedback on how I can better serve you with this blog (and future book!).
1) How old are you? Single? Married? Kids?
2) Where do you live?
3) How did you hear about The Yellow Table? Are you a regular reader?
4) What do you like about the blog? Do you have a favorite post?
5) What would you like to see more of? Less of?
6) How often do you cook (avg. times per week)?
7) What sort of cookbooks do you like?
8) Do you like to cook for friends? (If not, why?)
9) What's your dream? Are you pursuing it?
10) How can I help you??
Lots and lots of love to you all! Thanks for your support and encouragement!!