Certain words grate. They're the popcorn kernels that park in your throat mid-film -- the ones just annoying enough to distract you from the screen but not so stuck that they cause you to choke and die.
"Trend" is this word for me. It's a minor but persistent annoyance, and our relationship is strained.
I don't dress artsy. I don't create new paradigms or dye my hair blue or invent things. I don't risk it all. I am a trend follower in many ways -- in how I present myself, how I move in society, how I exist. I'm the person you don't notice in a crowd. I'm camouflage.
But in my head, I strive for more. I want to think outside the box, and push the needle forward. I don't want to mirror what's around me, especially if it's mediocre. I want to create. Produce. Improve.
I want to delight.
Look above. That reflection is flawed. The beauty of what's real, at bottom, is marred when it's mirrored up top. The window is dirty, and you can see the outline of the flower pot and garden outside. The top image is gray, imperfect, overcast.
Last year, I pitched an article to a website about Passover food. Big site, wide national audience. I'd written for them before, had a good relationship with the editor. Her response was appropriate from a business standpoint, but it was that popcorn kernel in my throat all over again.
"As much as I’d love to have more Jewish holiday content on the site, the traffic potential is low and it’s hard to get the powers that be to approve."
You want to know why the traffic potential is low? Because Jewish people don't find articles about Jewish holiday food on your site. Because you're not sticking your neck out. Because you're giving people what they've always had, and not willing to offer something new.
It's a vicious-circle, this publishing world, and that's why we see so much recycled content, celebrity diet bs, sensationalized nothing, and food articles as deep as a puddle. Yes, I'm generalizing, and no, not all media is like this. I am giddy and grateful for those that surprise me. I want to read them, and write for them. I want to link arms with them and chant and bring them flowers.
Am I suggesting food media has to be serious to refresh? Hell, no. We can have fun, be lighthearted, and play. We can tout whimsy.
Look, I'm going to re-commit myself to bucking trends. To moving the needle forward, a bit at a time, until it sits just a groove or two ahead of where it sat before. Until, slowly, we can step away from the mirror, away from that dirty window, and start to see not what's in it, but what sits beyond the pane.
I have been overwhelmed by the warm responses -- emails, Facebook posts, tweets -- of so many of you to my IACP win on Monday night. I am still processing how to thank you properly, but in the mean time, please know that you have moved me deeply.