Here we are with week five of our Writer Chats series, which comes from Lan Pham of More Stomach. Lan was one of my first blog friends many years ago—She is likely one of five or so people who’s seen almost every post here, and she’s been blogging in her own spaces the whole time, too. In April, Tim and I had the pleasure of sitting down to lunch with her and her fiancé, at which point she brought us presents (books! the best kind of gifts!). Here in this post, she talks about what writing means to her.
I remember the first time I received an A on a writing assignment. I was in 2nd grade. The assignment was to use the week’s vocabulary words in a story. I can’t recall what the words were, or even what the story was about, but I vividly remember the heady feeling of seeing that red A on my paper and Mrs. Baker’s beaming face when she handed it to me. I was hooked.
In the ensuing years my education career had a decided leaning towards the written word. Something about stringing words together to create sentences, thereby putting down on paper stories, thoughts, and dreams spoke to me.
As you can imagine, reading was also a passion of mine, so much so that my parents had to put a limit on how much I could read. I used to sneak around with a book hiding under my shirt. I skipped class not to hang out with friends, but to read. I wrote too, I had journal pages filled in messy cursive, long handwritten letters to pen pals, and in a time when home computers was not the norm, I wrote my papers by hand.
My writing isn’t consistent though. It’s usually influenced by who I’m reading at the time. I went through a phase where I wrote in run on sentences, similar to how I speak, and to the Terry McMillan books I devoured in 10th grade. I read haikus for long stretches of time one year and fragmented sentences were my go-to. I don’t write in purple prose, nor do I think I write particularly lovely. There isn’t a specific genre of writing that I hold most dear. It’s what I’m reading that I write like most.
For a while I thought writing was my forte, my calling. So I put down the books and focused on the writing. Can I just say: my writing suffered? It stagnated; it would start in fits and end with a disgruntled awkwardness. That’s when I came to understand that there is no writing without reading, as there is no reading without writing. Seems common sense doesn’t it? But for me, it was a revelation. In this day & age, where we are in constant competition to come up with new ways to create a dish, to style a dress, and yes, new ways to write, we lose the fact that everything is inspired or influenced by something else and to lose that is to lose the other.
So for now, I read about food, therefore, I write about food.
Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Lan for contributing this post! We love hearing her story, just as we’d love to hear some of your personal thoughts on writing—why you do it, what you’ve learned about it, what it means to you—too. If reading this post gets your own wheels turning, please leave a comment below!
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.