Possible Career in Literary Fiction and Cookbook Writing?

  • Hello Readers,

    My name is Pailyn, I go by my middle name "Nina", and I was born Sept. 4th, 1992. I have a dream to be both a society novelist (writing literary fiction) and also a well-respected and well-known cookbook author and chef (who can travel to do cooking demonstrations, do commercials, be interviewed, book signings, etc. - a successful chef who doesn't have to work every night in the sweaty kitchen, lol).

    I'm wondering if anyone sees the possibilities of one of these things (or both of them) happening.




  • Well, how far are you towards realising these dreams - for example, have you undertaken writing or cookery courses, had any of your work published or submitted anything to a publisher? Nothing will happen unless you work for it.

  • Hi Captain,

    Thanks for your response - it's good to hear from you. I cook almost every weekend and I watch how-to videos and shows almost every day. I write my own recipes and try them out and then fix what's wrong with them. I collect cookbooks and read them cover-to-cover to study how recipes are formed and written and what ways are most clear. I study the aspects of different materials (stainless steel? copper?) for cookery materials to know what's best for what. And I also applied for a month-long internship this summer at a local successful chain restaurant where I'm going to get culinary training. The college I'll be attending to, Bryn Mawr College, has cooking programs at its brother schools and I plan to take classes at two out of the three brother schools. I also read articles on how to become a successful chef. And I'm working on starting a food blog.

    Now, literary fiction... I read articles on what literary fiction is and how to write good literary fiction. I'm on my third literary fiction novel. This is the one that I'm aiming to publish first. I'm editing my second draft now which will give me my third draft and then I'll have trusted fellow fiction writers edit it with me. Literary fiction requires precision and many drafts and so that's what I'm currently aiming to do. I also constantly read classic literature because when I search for articles on writing literary fiction, this is what they recommend. Literary fiction is an homage to classic literature (that's why I like writing literary fiction, actually... I started to love reading and books after studying classics in junior high) and when I read classics, I do my best to learn from them. I take mental notes on subtlety of symbolism, on style, etc. And I have published shorter works and do try to submit shorter works to literary magazines, etc.

    The reason I'm asking this, Captain, is because I understand that both of these things need need both hard work and a whole lot of luck. These two things that I desire, unfortunately, will not happen without luck no matter how hard I work for it. (Likewise, they also will not happen without hard work). I'm putting in the work, I'm just wondering if the luck will ever come.


  • Bump

  • The one thing you don't seem to mention is whether you have feedback and outside confirmation of your work and talent. It's great to dream but, if other people don't like your work, then it's not commercially viable. You need to get feedback from unbiased outsiders (not friends or family) to know if you have what it takes to be successful. For example, have you submitted your writing to a publisher or agent for some advice on its merits?

  • Hi Captain,

    Thanks for all of your advice and your drilling - LOL it's good that your questioning is really making me think on where I may be falling short.

    Like I said, I have already published shorter works. Just not novels and I have not submitted my unfinished novels to publishers or agents for advice on their merits because those people aren't there to give advice. They either accept or decline and then move on to the next submission. Also, the more imperfect works that I send to them, the less inclined they are to later take a gander at a work that I've slaved over. From what I've read during research, you're supposed to only send them work once you're sure it's perfect. Sending my writing to publishers and agents for advice would irritate them at best because they don't have enough time to give advice and words of wisdom - they make a living off of this. And the publishing industry is also about forming relationships so I don't want to irritate them right off the bat. I need to do it the way I know it should be done: with a refined work and a good query letter. It's professional.

    I have gotten advice from other writers and cooks and I /have/ gotten feedback. My mother is actually one of my critics and she is not biased. As a matter of fact, she's very critical and quite insensitive. Growing up, my brother and I never felt like we were good enough. She IS family, but she is not biased - she gives me feedback and some of my food that she didn't like, she'd say that it tasted like "plane food," and if I refined it enough and worked on it, she'd become quite pleased. Not all friends and family members are biased; some of my friends and family are brutally honest and that's very helpful. I also participate (and often win) in cooking contests.

    Is what you're trying to say that when you try to read me, you don't feel that I'm doing enough? Is that your advice - that I should continue to work hard, and maybe even harder? Is that what you feel?

    Thank You,


  • There seems to be a great deal of wanting to be famous and recognised and approved of for your work that I think may be an attempt to prove to your mother that you are talented and worthy. How much are you doing for the sheer love of it?

  • And submitting your work to a publisher is part of the writer's life and the way to see if your work is commercial enough. Just about every famous writer has had hundreds of rejections. If you don't try, how will you ever succeed in being published? You might also join an online critique group for writers such as Critique Circle to be assessed and helped by other writers. Or pay for a manuscript assessment from professional assessors. Have you tried to get an agent?

  • Actually, Captain, I am not doing this to prove to my mother that I am "talented and worthy." She doesn't support either one of these endeavors. She would prefer for me to be a teacher and a journalist and allowing me to work on these hobbies has always been an uphill battle with her. So many times I've wanted to sign up for a class and she'd roll her eyes and sigh. So many times has she told me that me buying a new cookbook was a "waste of money." She doesn't support either one of these endeavors and wishes that I would move onto something that wasn't "silly."

    I'm choosing these two things because they make me happy. Because I feel passionate about them. Because when I feel upset about something they make me feel better. They give me comfort. NOT because of my mother because she didn't support these things to begin with. If I was choosing my dreams JUST for my mother I would have chosen to study medicine or be a teacher.

  • And yes, Captain, I do agree with you that you're supposed to try. I am well-aware that every successful writer has had hundreds of rejections. But those rejections were for a work that they were finished with and they would send to different people until one person saw something in it. They wouldn't really ask for advice. I'm sure that there's an agent out there somewhere who's willing to help young writers grow, but they're hard to find these days and in this economy.

    Thanks for all of your thoughts and advice though.

  • Sorry if my response seemed a bit abrupt - I just don't want anyone to think that there's problem enough with my mother that I'm choosing my life based on just her. It's true that my mother is harsh and critical, yet I still love her because she's my mother. Despite all her faults, strangely enough, she's one of my best friends and I'm closer to her than my friends are with their non-critical and non-demanding mothers. I tell her almost everything and we laugh about things like best friends do.

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