Moliere said, I live on good soup, not on fine words.
Truth be told, I have no idea what he meant by this, but I like it. Fine words are yummy, but good soup is what nourishes us, what allows us to live. I also love this quote because I adore soup. When this time of year rolls around, I daydream of soups. I think of my Mom's famous chickpea soup and my mouth waters. I think of that silly Cabbage Soup Diet I went on for about six minutes in high school. I think of that Tomato Florentine soup from Au Bon Pain that I slurped up as a hangover remedy at Yale. I think about cozy dates with Husband, dreaming together over decadent bowls of French Onion.
Soup. Mmmmmmmm. If it weren't 9:09am, I might just sniff out a bowl.
Last Friday, I had an amazing cup of soup. It was white bean, chock full of vegetables and flavor. But it was not the soup that was so memorable. It was the company. I sat across a tiny table from writer and big-league blogger Gretchen Rubin. (She had the gazpacho which was indeed my second choice.) As many of you know, Gretchen has an extremely popular daily blog called The Happiness Project where she shares her insights on that one thing we all want: happiness. Gretchen's highly-anticipated memoir THE HAPPINESS PROJECT hits stores at the end of December and I have no doubt that it will be a hit.
Gretchen and I sat there, eating soup, sharing bits and pieces of our respective publishing stories. She talked about her recent dilemmas over cover art. And of course I regaled her with my recent drama over my title. I listened. She listened. Now Gretchen is more of a big-timer than yours truly, but she sat there with me, talking and brainstorming, about blogging and life and books.
One thing she asked me as we finished our late afternoon soups: "What's the special sauce?" What makes people in general and blog readers in particular want to go out and buy your book? What is that extra special sauce? And I loved this question because I love metaphors and this was a good one. And I didn't have a definitive answer for Gretchen, but I did offer something. I said that if people like you, if they can relate to you, if they like what you have to say and how you say it, I think they might want to buy your book. And maybe this is foolish, but I believe it. When it comes down to it, we are not lawyers and writers and bankers and mothers. We are people. And we root for people who are honest and good and real. At least I do.
Maybe this is an utterly naive answer. It's likely. I often hang in the clouds. Delusions are my friends sometimes. But I don't know. I believe there is something to this.
All I know is this is how I work. Sure, it doesn't hurt when major reviewers declare words fine, but I think there is more at play than that. I for one will race out and buy a book written by a good person and good writer who is kind enough to sit across a tiny table and eat soup with me.
Thanks, Gretchen. For setting a sparkling example as a former lawyer and a blogger and a writer and a person. For tackling a topic that affects all of us deeply. For nourishing this rookie with good soup and good conversation. I have already pre-ordered my copy of THE HAPPINESS PROJECT, but maybe my readers will click here and follow suit. Cheers to good soup, fine words, and special sauce!
What's your favorite kind of soup? What makes you go out and buy someone's book?