I count myself blessed that I have a few very fine writing mentors. My friend dee Hobsbawn-Smith has always encouraged me to write and been there with kindness. My editor at City Palate Magazine, Kathy Richardier, has invested a great deal of time in making me a better writer and I owe a lot to her insistence on brevity, her eagle eye for clarity and her sense of readability, tone and overall worthiness of a piece. In Jennifer Cockrall-King, the founder of The Okanagan Food and Wine Writers Workshop (OKFWWW), I have found collegiality, escape from a writer’s solitary life and a generosity of spirit that reveals a deep belief in abundance and the power of collaboration.
It was at the OKFWWW that I met Liane Faulder. This post will talk more about what I have learned from Faulder in particular and share an article she recently wrote on raw milk in Canada.
Faulder led a session on what is best in food writing at the first OKFWWW that I attended. She had researched and presented writing examples to inspire our group from personal essays, memoirs, book chapters and reviews. She had the ability to get our creativity flowing with a simple exercise and encouraged everyone around the table – no matter their experience – to write on a topic for five minutes and then share what they had written. One theme allowed the infinite creativity in the universe to be illustrated in the variety of responses that were generated.
I watched Faulder at the conference as we went into the field. She had her pen and paper out and I could see her subtly interviewing, probing and writing as we made our way through an afternoon of meeting the characters that provided our experiences in the Okanagan. A few days later, the information appeared succinctly, accurately and entertainingly in The Edmonton Journal where she is food editor.
It took me eleven months before I did anything with the information I gathered at that year’s conference. I vowed the following year to try to emulate what Faulder had been able to do. It took staying up to two in the morning the last night of the conference but I got on a plane at seven the next morning, got off in Calgary and drove straight to the CBC where I filed my report on Alberta at Noon. I used the information I gathered in eleven hours this time instead of sitting on it for eleven months as I had the previous year.
I recently got to spend time with Faulder when she came to Calgary and I hosted her and several other great journalists from across Canada for part of Tourism Calgary’s “Ultimate Culinary Weekend In Calgary”. I loved showing these great food writers why I love Calgary’s food scene so much and sharing my passion for all its bright and lively characters and edibles. The weekend culminated with a Really, Really Long Table dinner to celebrate City Palate magazine’s 20th Anniversary. I got to sit with Faulder. We had fun. I could never have a totally serious mentor but when it comes to serious Faulder also has my respect.
Here is an example of her fine writing and a very serious and touchy topic. A small and dedicated Canadian cheese maker is devastated when the raw milk cheese they produce causes severe illness and has to be recalled. Faulder handles the topic with delicacy. The facts are delivered, all sides of the story are brought forth and general alarm and panic are able to be held at bay by the neutrality of this experienced journalist’s writing. I hope you enjoy reading one of my great writing mentors work here and I hope you learn as much as I did about raw milk and the issues surrounding it and how we can approach the topic fairly and considerately in spite of the outcomes of this unfortunate incident. Kudos to Liane Faulder for this salient piece of writing.