Blog Hop: Why Do I Write

June 30, 2014

“You like me … you REALLY like me” was my comment to Rachel Lebihan when she nominated me to answer the Blog Hop question “why do I write?”

And just like Sally Field did in that 1985 Oscars’ speech when she won the Best Actress award, I clutched a gold trophy in my hands and gushed.

Bowling Trophy

I dedicate this to Rachel who is a food writer, restaurant reviewer and a former editor at The Australian Financial Review. Her blog The Food Sage  is a collection of wise words on all things gastronomical.

Writing has always been part of my job as an arts administrator for cultural organisations presenting performance, literature, heritage, multicultural celebrations and film programs. I took a break 18 months ago when I decided I could no longer write “this year’s festival will be the biggest and best yet” in marketing collateral.

During this time I started my blog The Good the Bad & the Italian and lately have branched out into writing about my experiences as a sole carer for my 90-year-old mother (for a new health-related website) as well as taking on small freelance contracts.

What am I working on?

I’ve been re-visiting some stories on my blog and trying to expand them into more substantial tales to see if I can write something longer than 500 words that is still mildly entertaining to unsuspecting readers. Turns out I can, but not without some sweat: short ‘n’ sharp is my preferred mode. Being part of a group of talented writers in The Prose Workshop for the past six months has been a delight, and worth every hard-earned 1000 word exercise. Some interesting ideas are developing …

Why does my writing differ from others in my genre?

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a food blog? Well, no, not really. My writing is mainly about food but is contained within personal experiences, parental eccentricities, Italian folklore, topical events and discovering vintage (er, old and forgotten) kitchen accoutrements lurking in the cupboard. And films.

You won’t find many detailed recipes on my blog – except for the odd link to someone else’s content – as I don’t much enjoy quantities and methods, preferring to leave that to dedicated food bloggers.

Don’t ever ask me to categorise my blog as you’ll get a furrowed brow in response.

Why do I write what I do?

Many of my blog posts are inspired by stories of growing up as an Italian-Australian kid in Sydney’s inner-west in the 1960s. It was such an interesting time, observing my parents cooking, entertaining and trying to keep aspects of their heritage alive after their post-WW11 migration.

I’m also interested in how food is represented in films, particularly some pre-1980s American movies where Italian families only ever ate spaghetti and meatballs, which is not an authentic Italian dish. Pasta e fagioli (pasta and bean soup) became ‘pasta fazool’. Thank you Dean Martin.

Gathering these thoughts into something I think people might want to read is always a gamble. Will they REALLY like it?

How does my writing process work?

I have an elegant little hardcover book called a ‘Quadernetto’ (Italian for ‘small exercise book’) and I jot down ideas in it religiously. It’s roughly A6 size with a silky navy cover and graph paper pages and it follows me everywhere. Occasionally I’ll tap a thought into my iPhone, but it tends to stay there.

I draw inspiration from many things: old black and white photographs in family albums; stories in local and overseas magazines and websites; contents of cupboards; postcards; wacky songs and film scenes. These find their way as torn pages, photographs and scans into manila folders to be turned into words.

Then the untamed writing on my desktop iMac begins.

Just as I was nominated to take part in this Blog Hop, it’s my turn to introduce to you Cynthia Bertelsen who blogs at Gherkins and Tomatoes.

Cynthia is an accomplished writer, photographer and  author of Mushroom: A Global History (2013). She boasts a cookbook collection of over 3500 titles (no, that’s not a typo). Cynthia writes about life, cookbooks and cooking and I love the depth and focus of her writing, which she describes as “global and historical”.








  1. Lovely story. My new novel for young adults ‘The Midnight Pianist’ is set in 1960 in an Australian country town, and my character Emilia developed as the daughter of Italian migrants post war. It has been fun to write the sequel, as yet unpublished, which began as letters written between the two girls, and my investigation of southern Italian recipes to refer to, and for Emilia’s nonna to cook.

    • Thanks Julia. I seem to remember we’ve chatted before when you wanted to know a cafe name in Leichhardt for your book? Great news about your new novel – it sounds like a good one for YA.

  2. And what a lovely gold trophy it is too, you multi-talented girl, you! I feel very honoured to have your piece dedicated to me. Thanks! Great article – your’s is certainly a very unique blog, which is what i love about it so much. Short ‘n’ sharp pieces of writing are fantastic and i take my hat off to you for pushing yourself out of your comfort zone by stretching to longer pieces. The Prose Workshops sound fabulous too. Best of luck with your writing – i look forward to seeing more of it. Now i’m off to read Cynthia’s blog …

    • Pleasure. It was a bit hard exposing myself (I’m quite a private gal) but glad I did it. Also a good excuse to dust off the old trophy for a snap. Hope you enjoy Cynthia’s blog.

  3. Thanks Rachel for the introduction to Ambra…. beautiful writing style!

    • Thanks Liz. I’m now off to read your blog too. I wish there were more hours in the day to read all this good stuff!

      • Oh I hear you : )

  4. That’s where pasta fazool comes from? I love that link between food and love (and lust) in songs of that era: do you know Louis Prima’s Angelina? (“I eat antipasto twice just because she is so nice, Angelina, the waitress at the pizzeria…”) Anyway, again, sorry I was too chicken (food reference!) to contribute formally – and I LOVE your recommendation of gherkins and tomatoes: such a good blog. Cheers, Vicki.

    • Vicki, I think Italo-Americans shortened/changed quite a few Italian words back then, especially if they were from southern Italy to conform with the dialects. Yes, I know the song Angelina – it’s a beauty. No probs about the blog hop and I look forward to Gherkins & Tomatoes’ contribution soon – she’s great.

  5. i’m new to your site and i’ve enjoyed your personal voice, giving us a peak into one of my favourite food cultures. it’s also lovely to read someone else who writes using paper and pen initially, rather than the computer. my words flow better when i write longhand; when i’m typing, i tend to edit more – i feel like i’m at work.
    PS me too about pasta fazool!

    • Thanks Elizabeth. Yes, I agree about writing by hand – I like the feel of the pen/pencil on the paper and also enjoy scratching out, doodling, drawing crooked arrows … sometimes it ends up like a scribbly patchwork. Nice to meet you too via Rachel.

  6. i always enjoy your posts, not only because I am interested in all things Italian but because you have a specific take on things, drawing on memory, family and popular culture, and a great voice. And I always learn something – you’ve changed my coffee-making tradition. A lesson for all us bloggers – and long may you blog!

    • Thanks so much Colin. Too kind. And so happy I was able to clock up another convert to my coffee-making methods. cheers A.

  7. […] a week ago, Ambra Sancin at The Good, the Bad and the Italian wrote about writing, as part of what is called a Blog Hop. She invited me to do the same, so I […]

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