… Well THAT didn’t go as expected.
So that was a bit of a nightmare.
Looking back, despite plenty of new opportunities and more-than-decent events, the two words that define 2020 in my life are “uncertainty” and “messy.” The pandemic struck America in March, and its existence has more or less dominated all my memories of this year. As far as I can tell, 2020 really got started when my family came back from a trip to Disney, I showed to up work, and shit hit the fan.
“An hour spent on a park bench next to a beautiful woman feels like a minute, but sitting on a hot stove for a minute feels like an hour. That’s relativity.”
— Albert Einstein
It Can’t Rain All The Time
I’d be doing myself and several others a disservice if I truly denounced 2020 as a complete goat rodeo. Even with the backdrop of social unrest, pandemic disease, political intransigence and America’s political philosophy boiling down to a combination of Chaos and “fuck around and find out,” we did manage to get something done this year.
I know plenty of people who, like myself, have found that the pandemic gave them a reason to flex unused creativity and pivot into new careers. We put aside ideas that were no longer working, picked up new ones, and ran with them.
As I write this, I’m sitting at my desk at home. It’s 12:30 on a Thursday. Normally I would be in the bakery and just coming back from my lunch break. Thanks to COVID and the usual post-Christmas slowdown, however, my schedule was trimmed by a day. At first, I felt like something I just had to take on the chin. “I’ve got a wife who works full-time and a couple side hustles. Losing a day won’t hurt me as much as others.” This morning, however, I realized that cutting down my time in the bakery was something that I wanted to do for a while. Sure, I’d have preferred to trim my own hours after I knew I could make enough money writing so that it wouldn’t cause trouble… but now I suppose I have the opportunity to actually work on getting to that point in the first place.
What have I done so far?
Besides opened myself up as a freelance writer and editor, the first draft of my next book is finished! I have been working on this book spasmodically for the last two years, and I can’t begin to explain how good it feels to have even the bones of it finished. I put the manuscript to the side fpr a while to work on “Blood, Sweat, and Butter,” and then again to start dealing with anxiety and depression. I don’t want to give too much away, but my ultimate hope for this book is that it will be suggested reading for culinary school students and an eye-opening argument for where the culinary world has been and where it can go.
2020 may have been a dumpster fire of a year, but I can’t deny it’s given me a lot of time and material to make me better as a writer. It’s also given me some inspiration for how else I can pivot my culinary career- videos, teaching, demonstration, etc.
It’s also forced me to come to terms with, among other things, my career trajectory. Like plenty of others, the pandemic has demonstrated just how fragile the hospitality industry is- how much skilled workers are needed, and how many businesses are built on such skills being exploited. Years ago, Chris Guillebeau wrote in The $100 Startup how, as risky as it is, self-employment is the ultimate job security. After watching my entire kitchen change staff around me several times over and being laid up for weeks after kidney surgery, 2020 has shown me just how true that is and that my wife and mother-in-law have been right all along- I won’t be truly happy in my work until I am working for myself.
Hopefully, an end to the pandemic and a sense of rationality (if not improvement) in America’s political life.
On my end, though- expect to see a lot more out of me and this blog in the future.
Expect more videos! As chaos descended over America, I’ve fallen of the wagon with regard to my goals for demonstration and educational videos. I intend on getting back on the stick in the coming year, with technique videos and recipes that have multiple applications. There might even be a return of the Whiskey and Jellybeans Hour! (#bighobbitenergy)
Expect more words! I’ll be leaning hard into writing from now on. Did I mention the book I finished, and the one already on sale on Amazon?
Expect more stories! Transition is the name of the game in Life, and I’m willing to bet my transition from part-time writer to full-time writer, part-time baker will have its own curves and swerves on the way. My friend Karen, however, would always remind me “Life is a dance between making it happen and letting it happen.” Writing has been one of the hardest, best, and most freeing things in my life, and it’s time I gave it (and myself) a real shot at paying the bills.
Thanks for Joining Me
Words have power. Stories have power. In order for them to be, though, there needs to be a storyteller and an audience. It’s because of you all, my readers and friends, that I have even half a hope of this nonsense getting off the ground. Every bit of feedback, every share on social media, every comment about my words inspiring you, entertaining you, making you question, or interesting you, humbles me.
One of the things all writers have to learn eventually is that, if you are writing for yourself but trying to see it to others, that is an exercise in narcissism. Really good writing, the best writing, is rewarding to both the writer AND the audience- but the audience is the most important bit. We are warned “If you don’t feel anything while writing something, neither will the reader.”
So every time I come up with another video idea, a blog post, a book idea that gets me excited, and you all get excited about it too- it means I’ve done my job, and I should consider doing more of it in the future.
Thank you all. Happy New Year. Stay safe, stay well, and of course…