Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Julie and Julia

Ok. I don't know where I was when the Julie/Julia Project blog was birthed and gave life to a writer's career for Julie Powell, and I don't know where I was when the blog grew into a best selling book. But the movie finally woke me up.

Previews for the movie got me interested in the story and I found myself at the bookstore and couldn't resist picking up a copy of the book. Like most blogs (and most books that come from blogs) it was unrelentingly self-absorbed. Duh. I mean we are writing about ourselves for the most part, unless we get lucky enough to get paid to write about something else that people want our opinion on. But there was something in the way Julie Powell acknowledged her self-absorption (and tendency toward hysterics) that helped you get past it.

I blew through the book in about 4 days (even with the hordes of relatives visiting my house...okay so it was only 4 adults and a 2-1/2 year old, but you know, that fills my house to the brim) and I really enjoyed it. I was particularly touched by the honest way she portrayed her relationship with her mother - far from a major part of the book, but it resonated with me. Acknowledging the stressors between the two women, but appreciating that nagging comes from caring (regardless of how it is delivered), advice comes from love (regardless of if it is wanted), and in the end, if you can step back a moment, you can admire the woman who is your mother/daughter and be thankful of what she has brought to your life.

The relationship Julie has made with her own mind's construction of Julia Child is kind of like a mother/daughter model as well. Julia Child represents some kind of guiding light to her through her life's choices and her cooking. The moments in the book when Julie feels she cannot live up to the expectations of her role model, and also when these shaky character constructions come tumbling down, are some of the most poignant.

We all, as bloggers, even if we don't have the INTENT to be writers, still must admit to the smallest of hopes that we might be discovered for our talent and whisked out of our hum-drum every day existence. We feel we are putting ourselves out there and we just know, even if we're only getting a few comments a day those commenters represent dozens or maybe hundreds of non-commenting lurkers. Julie Powell is living our non-specific and ill-pursued dream. From dead-end job to literary giant. From obscurity to fame. From sad, depressed, self-obsessed blogger to entertaining, witty, self-supporting author.

As I sat in the movie theater watching Amy Adams play the role I wondered what Julie Powell must have thought on her first viewing. It must have been a totally surreal experience. Is she prepared, I wondered, to become the "Julia Child" to someone else's Julie Powell existence? It must certainly be a side effect of her transformation that those (we?) frustrated self-indulgent bloggers will now see her as the model for their (our?) own escape. But the odds are against them (ok, us!). I mean, really, we need to face the truth. There is probably less chance of a discovered and sustained success story for a blogger/writer than there is of winning the lottery!

In the meantime, we continue to search for meaning in our writing, for models and examples of other more exciting lives, and for escape. I just hope, in the meantime, we remember that Julia Child and Julie Powell certainly had their own challenges in life, and while they may have risen to fame through their cooking and their writing, they aren't really so different from us. They likely had/have disappointments, frustrations, fractured dreams, and unfulfilled wishes. And wanting to be them - in their most bright and famous moments, could make us forget how good it actually is to be just who we are - blogging here - self indulgently - every day.


Jude said...
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Jude said...

You need to put your blog postings in a book! This is why I have a hard time blogging - your writing is fantastic, professional and real. I just picked up the book last night...let you know!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

It is interesting to hear the background on why it was so much easier for Julie to be "discovered."

Fewer bloggers, an interesting concept, easier to build a following.

I'll have to look for the book.

Anonymous said...

It's a real trend now for people who really want book deals to just start a blog and hope for the best. Whatever did people do before blogging?

And you're not the only one who has apparently been in hibernation somewhere in a secluded cave while Julie Powell's blog project was picking up steam - I also had no idea about it till the recent release of the movie! I haven't seen it or read the book yet, but both are on my list of Things To Do.