“Anthropomorphisation” – the attribution of human form or other characteristics to anything other than a human being.
Hands up anyone who has, if only for a moment, considered writing a blog?
Food, fashion, craft, books, music, life…?
Not only are they all perfectly valid themes, but you can be guaranteed that as long as you can string a few coherent words together in the written form then you’re going to find an audience.
But here’s the catch. Can you sustain it?
You start out fresh and full of ideas. 365 days in a year = 365 articles right? Or perhaps for the less ambitious we’ll cut that down to 52. Still easily achievable isn’t it? I’ve got plenty to say and all my friends and family love listening to me talk their ear off right…? People are going to luuuurve my new blog and I’m going to be the next Perez Hilton in no time!
Week 4 – 20 articles
20 articles later. 20?? I thought you committed to one per day? Yeah, you know…life got in the way. I had to take little Max into the vet, and then I had to work back on the weekend to finish off that piece of work for the GM. But I’ve still got some good ideas!! Just wait ’til you see what I put up tomorrow…or perhaps the day after that.
Week 8 – 24 articles
“So how’s that blog coming along?” Not bad, not bad, but I’ve decided to focus on quality, not quantity. There’s no point flooding my readers with material every day. I’m going to give my readers something to really think about…and besides, do you realise how long it takes to write 1000 words?
Week 16 – 25 articles
“I was browsing your blog last night and I noticed you haven’t posted for a few weeks…?” So?! What are you trying to say? Am I not catering sufficiently to your needs as a free-loading consumer?! Sheesh! You try and give something back to the world and this is the thanks I get?! Just lay off alright, you can’t rush perfection! You’ll get your next article when I’m ready and not a day earlier!!
While this hasn’t been my journey (shots!*), in the 18 months I’ve been blogging I’ve seen plenty of others go down this type of path.
So what’s the point I’m trying to make?
This isn’t a ‘holier-than-thou’, ‘look at me, aren’t I amazing’ speech, but instead it’s more of a warning (and perhaps a premeditated excuse if my output happens to drop :)) to anyone thinking of getting into the blogging caper. I’ve been there. I’ve experienced those initial highs, but I’ve also experienced the frustration that is writer’s drought.
So what are some tips for pushing through/over/around those obstacles?
For me, I’ve found that blog diversity has helped. Switching between food reviews, hiking notes and photography keeps my mind fresh and always gives me something different to think about. I’ve seen some bloggers espouse the need to “find your niche”, and while that can work for some, just like working in a chocolate factory would become old pretty quickly, despite the freebies, variety is the spice of life.
Another critical requirement is passion for your subject matter. You can’t fake it, so don’t even try. Enough said.
Thirdly, and I can thank my dad for this one, don’t just recount events, but relive them. To simply explain how good (or bad) a meal tasted is to only give air time to one fifth of the total sensory experience. What did it look like? What aromas hit your nose? What was the vibe of the venue? What textures did the chef bring to the table? How did it make you feel? Let the readers feel like they were the ones sitting at that table.
Lastly, and this is what I find both most rewarding and most difficult, is the need to find a ‘hook’.
What’s the ‘hook’?
For me it’s that slightly left-field approach to an article that is going to differentiate your article from the thousands of others out there. It’s my unique, inevitably flawed, personality influencing the message that I’m trying to communicate. It’s taking an impersonal description of something as mundane as eating a lettuce leaf, and imbuing it with meaning to a complete stranger. If it wasn’t for the hook, a typical burger review would look something like:
“Tasty patty, really fresh salad and good tomato sauce. Great burger!”
Perhaps it’s ok the first time, but 18 months and 20 burgers later I can guarantee your readers will be snoozing, face down on their keyboards!
And this brings me back to my opening line.
One little trick that every writer should include in their blogging tool belt is the concept of anthropomorphisation.
Quite simply, it’s taking an inanimate object such as a plate of food, your local takeaway shop or your favourite restaurant, and humanising it. How does it make you, and in turn your readers, feel? It’s about ascribing human emotion to the anticipation of a good meal, the act of eating itself, or the savouring of the flavours, and in some small way successfully influencing the reader to feel the same way I did, if only for an instant.
blah, blah, blah…give me food!
Before I do, in an exercise of blatant anthropomorphisation, I present to you the Hobart Food Family:
The Standard – The brash young teenager, full of energy and dreams, 10 foot tall and bullet proof!
Pilgrim – With the endearing naivete of a university graduate, they influence the world in the only way possible; in small steps from the ground up.
Monty’s – In their late 30s, the rough edges have been smoothed out, yet they still remember what it was like to be young and are the experts of innovation.
Alexander’s – 50 years young. These guys have left their mark on the world. They have learnt from their mistakes and have used these experiences as stepping stones to greater heights. Traditional values at heart, yet youthful enough to continue to evolve, albeit slowly.
The Astor Grill – The matriarch/patriarch of the family. They know what works, and what doesn’t, and they will faithfully continue to reproduce that same level of quality without fail. Perhaps a little set in their ways, despite their foibles you’ll always know where you stand.
Alexander’s is a venue we hadn’t visited in many, many years, and my memories of that last meal were of stuffy traditionalism and good, but not overly inspiring food.
The ambience of the restaurant, within the grand old environs of the Lenna of Hobart hotel, still has those traditional roots. Chandeliers, faux roman columns and a large open fireplace tend to leave that impression! The clientèle was also decidedly ‘traditional’, with an average age up around 60 and a distinct ‘tour group’ feel.
Despite this, the service was fresh, enthusiastic and without fault for the entire night. Together with the surprisingly modern menu, we both had a fantastic Valentine’s dinner to remember!
Unusually for me, I selected a salad as my entrée; a salad of black quinoa, with citrus segments, wild roquette, heirloom tomato, Yondover Farm fetta & herb dressing to be precise ($14). I also requested the optional extra of hot salmon (+$4).
I’m so glad I did because it ended up being one of the most well balanced, delicious and satisfying entrées I’ve had in a long time. Both of us were surprised by the presentation, with each of us expecting a warm bowl full of the various ingredients, heavy on the quinoa and perhaps paying token service to everything else. How wrong could we be?! This was light, cold, wonderfully refreshing and the perfect dish to whet the appetite. Just stunning.
Karen ordered half a dozen natural oysters ($18.50), for which there were no complaints at all.
After such a great start we were excited to see whether they could continue in a similar vein.
Main course for myself was a 200g lamb fillet sourced from Tasmania’s own Wild Clover farm. It was served with a walnut crumb, mustard cress salad and sweet onion & beetroot relish ($36.50).
Just look at that fillet…!
You can’t get any better than that. A wonderful combination of flavours that complimented the perfectly cooked lamb in the best way possible.
For Karen it was the free range chicken breast (cooked sous vide) with fresh herbs, roasted garlic kale, buttered squash & cider glaze ($30.50).
While it sounded great on paper, the reality fell far short. Despite the use of the sous vide technique, the chicken was on the dry side, with the breast in particular being quite average. Bland flavours that unfortunately never climbed above mediocre.
To accompany our meals we also ordered a serve of polenta chips with salsa verde ($7). Very firm, crunchy exterior, with a pillow-soft centre. These were very good, but quite filling.
For dessert I selected the caramelised apple crepes with pecan nut brittle, butterscotch sauce & Valhalla vanilla ice cream ($13).
What can I say…? This was one of the most delicious desserts I’ve had anywhere! Delicate, fluffy crepes, complete with nicely crisp edges, wrapped loosely around the deliciously sweet caramelised apples. Every mouthful was dancing with flavour.
Karen ordered the soft meringue with elderberry poached summer fruits and Meander Valley double cream ($13).
This was Karen’s pick of the evening. Simple, traditional ingredients, yet executed with perfection.
Alexander’s made our Valentine’s night one to remember, and for all the right reasons.
Combining classic flavours with the occasional clever modern twist, they are the epitome of refined elegance. While there were some disappointments along the way, the overall experience was positive and I wouldn’t hesitate to return to try some of the other dishes on their menu.
It certainly isn’t cheap (an Entertainment Card will help), but what you do get is a very special night out with your significant other, and you can’t put a price on that!
Taste – 4/5
Menu – 4.5/5
Atmosphere – 4/5
Service – 5/5
Value – 4/5
Overall – 4/5
*Personal joke, Bec and Nat will get it 🙂