On Blogging in 2017

(I took this picture at a wedding this weekend and was about to say it has nothing to do with this post, but maybe it kind of does?)

Last night, I did something I hadn’t done in a very long time: I read a post on my old food blog.

The context was this: I’d bought the Chanterelle cookbook and was doing an Instagram post about it (I’d say Instagram is the last remnant of my online life, though I still occasionally Tweet and write on Facebook) and remembered going to the restaurant with my mom. So I Googled “amateur gourmet chanterelle” and found this post about the meal we ate there in 2005.

The crazy thing? I loved reading it. It was so exuberant and pure and a great document of the night we spent there. It’s also a historical record of a restaurant that no longer exists, a useful artifact of a long-gone restaurant era. In other words: it was good that I wrote that blog post when I wrote that blog post.

But now, almost twelve years later, the idea of writing a blog post (is “blog post” a weird thing to say? I think I should just say “blog”) fills me with dread. The internet has changed so much, I’m not even sure I understand it anymore. As many of you know, two years ago I started a job on a TV show “The Real O’Neals” which was a whirlwind of an exciting experience. I was lucky enough to write three episodes and learned so much in the process, it would probably take me years to unravel it all.

Now I’m working on two very cool film/TV projects that I probably shouldn’t say anything about (OK, I’ll tell you this: they’re food-related) but that I’m working on from home. So I wake up in the morning, make oatmeal, make coffee, water the plants, feed the cat, check Instagram, check Twitter, check Facebook, check The New York Times and a few blogs, and then I do something very powerful and profound and that’s been life-altering in a significant way: I block the internet. I use the Freedom app and I block the internet for four to eight hours at a time. I do this in conjunction with an app called Moment which tracks how much I look at my phone. And then (you’re about to say “ugh, how L.A.”) I meditate for twenty minutes before I get busy writing.

Frankly, it’s been pretty wonderful. If I had to distill the wonderfulness down to one word I’d say: “Clarity.” Gone is the constant, fervent noise of the internet. It’s like going from the city to the country, where it’s hard to adjust at first because you’re used to all the horns honking, but eventually you settle into a peaceful groove and you find yourself sitting out on the porch with a book, breathing in the country air, and sighing: “Ah, this is the life.”

But then, every now and again, you miss the city. So you go in for little visits, you see the people you want to see, you catch a show, grab dinner at a hot new restaurant, and then hoof it back to nature. That’s where I’m at now: instead of submerging myself in the internet, I’ve been dipping my toe in it every now and again. Instagram’s my favorite because it feels the most natural: I roast a chicken and make little Instagram videos of the process. I’d be roasting that chicken anyway, so holding down a little button doesn’t cost me anything. Plus, it’s a nice way to interact with people who like to see that sort of thing.

So why am I here?

Good question. I’ll confess I almost stopped writing this post about eight times. In fact, I’m still thinking about deleting it. But something about reading that old blog post reminded me of something: I like writing. I like blogging. What I stopped liking was the culture of it all. Specifically, when I was blogging professionally, I’d gotten into this rut of “SEO Optimization” and writing my posts to maximize traffic, linkage, relevance, clickability, optics, etc, etc. That made sense because I was getting paid based on traffic. But now I make my living doing other work, so blogging can be a pure outlet again. So that’s appealing.

The other deterrent has been the reactive nature of the web these days: it kind of feels like that scene in Jurassic Park where they lower the goat into the T-Rex cage?

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Every day, it’s a different goat: Taylor Swift. TJ Miller. HBO.

I’m not defending those things (uh oh, the water in my glass just started to vibrate) but I think the way the web works, now, you get more mileage being outraged by something than you do creating something new. This could also just be the result of following lots of cultural critics on Twitter… a good thing, in terms of staying in touch with what’s exciting in the culture right now (Call Me By Your Name, Lorde’s new album, Issa Rae’s “Insecure”) but incredibly intimidating when it comes to creating new work.

So here’s what I’ve decided, at least as of this moment: to tune out the noise as much as I can and to put some stuff out there. It’s funny, reading that old blog post, how many mistakes I made, how un-self-aware I was, how freely I shared details from my own life. I’m so much older and more cynical than I was then. But I’m also envious of that younger self, to be able to share so much, so enthusiastically: as if the act of sharing itself was the point. And, come to think of it, maybe it was.

23 comments

  1. Adam, your food
    Blog is still one of my favorites and I miss it. It was the last of my regular reads online, when all
    The other blogs I followed started to fall away. But I’m happy to read you now and then here or on FB!!

  2. I’ve missed The Amateur Gourmet and am so glad you’re planning to return to writing online! I can’t tell you how many of your recipes I go back to (made Blackberry Snacking Cake last week) – for the quality of the food, but also for the quality of your writing and the positive, helpful, and yes, personal way you approach them. Thanks so much for helping to feed my family, and I’m looking forward to reading your new stuff.

  3. This was a pleasant surprise showing up in my Feedly feed. I did enjoy your exuberant posts back in the day and was happy for you that you moved on to more creative and lucrative adventures. But, I did miss you. Have you tried cooking Sous Vide? I love it!

  4. It is so funny that you have just written this as only yesterday I was thinking about Amateur Gourmet and how much I loved your site and I miss it. Your voice was natural, curious about food and learning more and unlike so many other blogs etc, you celebrated your failures as much as your successes and your kitchen was real and unstaged (hey there green chopping board!)
    I agree, there is so much noise these days.

  5. Oh my god! I’ve missed you so much!!! Yours was one of the only blogs I ever cared to keep up with and there is a definite hole where you left! Welcome back!!!

  6. Did I ever need to see this. Some of my favorite internet moments took place on your blog. When I saw your Instagram post about roasting the chicken for Craig, there was a part of me that longed for a “Great Moments in Musical Theatre Featuring Eggs” . . . moment. Glad to know you’re happy, and am thankful for the trove of moments to rediscover.

  7. I hope to read more only if it feeds your soul! Like many others, I reread AG for the joy of your writing, stories and recipe insights.

    Glad to know you’re happy and looking forward to your projects.

  8. Elizabeth (above) wrote exactly what I was thinking and feeling except mine was a tuna pasta recipe that I make all the time but could not find on your blog recently. I thoroughly enjoy your Insta presence…the tomato/corn pasta story tonight almost made me drool on my screen. Oh how I need to block the Internet though; thank you for the push and suggestion regarding how to do it!

  9. Every time I go into Tony’s coffee in Fairhaven I think about seeing you there and saying hello. Your blog was special for me and I miss it. But we all grow and change and try new things…..and move on.
    And has the internet EVER changed! Such hate, bitching, and discontent. Thanks for so many lovely years of blogging. Miss you.

  10. Welcome back Adam. I have missed you and your joy for life. The simple things. Good food. Friends. Family. Love. You echo an unspoken threat to all of this. The noise and distraction of the internet. Setting clear boundaries are essential. Inspire by doing you. Looking forward to hearing your voice through the noise, every now and then.

  11. We’ve never met… but your post today felt like I just receive a letter from an old friend. Thanks for writing again. I still go to Amateur Gourmet occasionally for some recipes. I miss your stories.

  12. Good to see this post! Often wondered what happened to you and very pleased to hear that you are thriving. Miss your enthusiasm for food and friends.

  13. I’ve been following you for what seems like forever now (you even mentioned me in a AG post once and made my day!) and I’ve really been enjoying your Intsagramming. Definitely miss you blogging, but you have to do you, right?

  14. So fun to read your blog again. The recipes were how I found you so many years ago, but our authenticity and enthusiasm was why I kept reading.

  15. So happy your back, I really missed reading your blog!! I occasionally checked your blog to see if you posted anything new, lo & behold my shock when I saw that you posted today,I actually had to double check the date to make sure it was this year. Happy for all your success, but do blog once in a while.

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