It was surreal moment after I won the award for Best Food Blog at the Australian Food Media Awards (AFMA) – I stepped off the stage, returned to my table clutching my heavy award plaque, accepted congratulatory messages from my neighbouring dining companions on Table 22, and desperately tried to regain my composure and keep my anxiety induced indigestion at bay.
The Co-pilot was immediately informed about the surprise win as it was so unexpected it caught me completely off guard. There are so many Australian food blogs that I admire, with bigger audiences, better pictures and almost universally, better baking skills – the most I’d dared to hope for was a mention and a hearty slap and pat on the back. I’m not one to revel in the spotlight in fact, I hate being the unexpected center of uncontrolled attention. An impromptu speech was concocted on stage and my mouth moved, hopefully intelligible words came out as my mind was preoccupied by looped scenes of me stuffing up my uni graduation ceremony – both times. Spectacularly.
The Co-pilot’s family PR connection works with frightening speed as congratulatory messages start streaming through my mobile also instantly. Amongst the congratulatory messages was this one from my aunt:
What does this mean: “narrowing of the external auditory meatus noted”? Thanks.
The message made me laugh out loud in bemusement and possibly spark rumours of spontaneous madness. It was a very sobering and grounding hook back to reality. In my elated state I am reminded that my very own family have not the slightest idea of what I do professionally or otherwise. There have been repeated attempts to explain amongst many things that:
- I am not a medical doctor, I was trained as a medical researcher – there’s a difference. Your trust in me is seriously misguided – save your medical questions for your GP
- If you don’t know what it is, Google it. Chances are, that’s all I can do for you.
- I do not have access to a personal mass spectrometer at home that I can whip out to test your medication
- I do not have a some mice I keep handy for drug testing, and even if I did, no, I can’t chuck in a few pills into my experiment as that requires ethics approval
- And most importantly: I told you – I left medical research YEARS AGO. I work in digital advertising now.
Since my family can’t comprehend what I do professionally, I have no hope of explaining what a blog is, what my blog is about and why I invest so much of my personal time on my blog.
As far as I can tell, they think I’m a doctor whom dabbles in computers and runs an online restaurant at night.
I recall showing my parents one of my blog posts in a futile attempt to explain what my blog is about.
“So, do people call you if they want to order this dish?“, my father asked, clearly confused.
“And you say you don’t get paid for this?“, my mother asks, clearly horrified.
Well, I get a tiny bit of advertising revenue from running banner ads on my blog, but when I take into account the actual and opportunity costs of setting up and maintaining my blog – I’m in the red.
Like most other food bloggers, I blog because food brings much pleasure for me; I’m an opinionated, frustrated writer; and I want to share my thoughts with people who don’t mind and possibly might even enjoy reading my ramblings. This is not to say that it hasn’t been a turbulent journey in simply trying to maintain the blog. There have been many a late night that turned into many a bleary eyed day, and on a few occasions, when the passion for blogging was all-consuming and I was churning out posts – there were stern words said, mini-tantrums thrown, tears shed and eventually a new blog-life balance negotiated.
The majority of my family, many friends and most of my colleagues remain in the dark about the second job that I tend to during the twilight hours but there is now definitely satisfaction that I can seek some comfort in this award and the nod of recognition that comes with it. It goes some of the way towards justifying my blog madness. I had hoped it would increase the allowed blogging quota at home, but I have been firmly reminded of the importance of upholding that blog-life balance.
“Blog smarter, not harder”, the Co-pilot says. “Your posts are too long! No-one finds that interesting. Do you have to take a photo of everything? Are you STILL blogging? Pay attention to ME!”
This award is the perfect comeback and secondarily, its heavy weight might come in handy to silence critics and would-be editors.
Thank you to Australian Pork Ltd for sponsoring the category and prize and for the AAFP for recognising the category for the first time. A big congratulations also to Jules Clancy for winning the highly commended award for her captivating and informative blog – The Stone Soup.
And congratulations to all the other winners on the night, you can see the full list of winners and sponsors here.
My monologue ends here and we will return to the normal posts shortly. I have a few curious experiments boiling in the background so stay tuned!