Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Sometimes I think the reason I became a writer is because I'm so damn inarticulate.

A writer who can't express herself in her native language? Not a very auspicious sign, you probably say. Better take up welding. Or witchcraft. Or maybe waitressing...Can I bring anyone a beverage to start?

No, I'm not always good at the pithy remark, the sharp rejoinder, the on-the-spot insight. But give me time to pace around my study, blasting loud music to loosen the thoughts in my head, and I can cough up words till I choke--or until my weary fingers curl up like claws.

Anyway, there I was at lunch with my agent and some lovely people from my publisher's office when I was asked a simple question: Who reads your blog?

Well, um, all kinds of people.

Where are they from?

Uh, lots of of them are American. But lots of them...aren't. Err, I guess you could say people from all over the world.

Men? Women?

Hmm...lots of women. And men, too. Lots of men. Men and women, that's who reads my blog. Men and women from all over the world. (Oh, I was doing good! I was nailing these questions!)

But who are they? How did they find you? What kind of books do they read?

Maybe it was the triple question that flustered me. Maybe it was the impossibility of categorizing such a diverse and wonderful group of people. Maybe I just don't know how you found me, or I found you, or why. Maybe it's a process as mysterious as finding a friend or a mate or a poet who makes you stand up and recite their words out loud in your room late at night--as I've been tempted to do with some of your posts.

But whatever the reason, my inarticulate self spoke up and this is what she said:

Earthy crunchy people!

That's right; let the stoning begin. I called you earthy crunchy people--a term that hasn't been in common usage since, I don't know--the seventies?

Since everyone at the table was younger than I am, they all looked a bit mystified--and relieved to focus on their food. Earthy crunchy people, huh? How interesting. End of discussion.

So now that I'm back in my office with my music playing in the background and all my pictures around me,I can give a much better answer. In fact, I can tell you exactly who reads my blog:

Women and men.
People from places I've visited and even lived, and people from places
I've never been and may never see or know except through your words and photographs.
Artists and writers.
People who are just beginning to dream their careers.
People who've left the work force and now have time to reflect and be.
Mothers and fathers.
People who see the world through a wide lens.
People who understand the importance of the tiniest detail.
Sons and daughters.
A rabbi or two.
People who heal.
People who work at jobs they love.
People who don't.
People who embrace solitude.
People who live amid the trial and joy of family.
People with passionate opinions.
People with open minds and hearts.
People who teach me things, and expand my vision every day.

Is it any wonder I couldn't come up with a simple concise answer? But seriously,earthy crunchy people? I still have no idea where that one came from.


And speaking of my blog friends, I was thrilled to discover these ladies when I was shopping at Faces in Northampton. So thrilled, in fact, that I had to pull out my camera and take a picture.


My friend Laini made these! I said, when the clerk looked at me askance as I photographed the merchandise. And of course, I had to buy a couple of them on the spot. One now blesses my dining room table as she swings from the light, and another one hangs right here in my office, bearing this motto:


What indeed.


Anonymous said...

I am very proud to be considered an earthy crunchy person. I'm authentic! (And I'm especially good with honey.)

It's a fascinating question, though, about who reads one's blog. Many of my readers don't comment. I do know I've had visitors from every continent except Antarctica. I'm also fairly certain my blog is read by people from the political center to the left, but I'd bet fair money no conservative reads me regularly.

But really... it's understandable they are curious, but it's too complex to give a luncheon answer to. You're not inarticulate; their expectations just show how uninformed they are about internet publishing.

rdl said...

I love it! and you and your blog. :)
one of your earthy crunchy friends

Bibi said...

That's too funny ... practice it in French for the next round of questions and they'll go "ahhh, I see" and shut up, too embarrassed to admit they don't know what you mean.

floots said...

today i will carry that label around the island
perhaps another earthy crunchy person will cross my path
we will make shy
(but knowing)
eye contact

i enjoyed reading this
looked up northampton on the map
cos i thought i'd been there
(i hadn't)
must've been thinking of hampton beach


Zhoen said...

I'm only crunchy on the outside. Inside is a soft nougat center with lots of nuts.

Dale said...

Earthy crunchy people? Good heavens. What did that mean, back when it meant something? I have no idea.

:-) This is hilarious. I am articulate like this too.

The Curmudgeon said...

I had to go to the Urban Dictionary (www.urbandictionary.com) on this one:

Earthy-crunchy: An adjective describing persons or things relating to any or all of the following: vegetarianism; herbs; all-natural and organic products (such as food, skin and hair care products, etc.); recycling; protecting and preserving the environment; natural medicine; etc. People that are earthy-crunchy are sometimes called tree-huggers or hippies.

Examples: She loves to go to the health food store, where she buys all that earthy-crunchy stuff.

With that jewelry made of hemp and beads, I bet she's earthy-crunchy.

I wonder if that's a regional term; I can't remember ever hearing it -- and I'm old enough to remember it if it was in common usage here in the Chicago area. Of course, I suppose I'm old enough to have forgotten it, too....

Anonymous said...

Oh Patry.. I kind of like the idea that I may be an "Earth Crunchy People." Some how I find that a pleasing description. :-)

Sustenance Scout said...

Around Denver, earthy crunchy usually refers to folks in Boulder. While I may not wear Birkenstocks, I'm happy to be grouped with folks who care about the world around them...and who enjoy reading stories that make one stop and actually think.

Thanks for stopping by my blog to see my pie post! I LOVED that recipe.

chuck said...


(is that another way to say, 'mortal'?)

"..me am organic, earth-crunch, biodegradable biomass."


Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Patry...have I told you how wonderful you are enough times? What you probably couldn't tell those marketing folks is that your blog is a gorgeous light out to us. It continually inspires me. I was so enamored of your friend Laini's Ladies, by the way, that I just bought a bunch :) I think I'll add her link to my blog.

I'm so glad I "found" your blog.

Fred Garber said...

Earthy-Crunchy and proud of it!

Fred Garber said...

Earthy-Crunchy and proud of it!

off line said...

Oh how I can relate...I am the worst person in an interview situation, an inarticulate, dead-head comes across. That’s why I write. That’s what I tell myself. As for the “earthy crunchy,” sounds good to me.


This is rather opposite to your question but I had a little experience over the weekend. It came to mind as I read your post.

Me and my husband were waiting for the boat to go to Peele Island, had a few hours to kill so went for a walk in the small town of Kingsville. Parked by the sidewalk downtown, was a Roaster, 1932 convertible Rolls-Royce: hood down, keys in ignition. I stopped to drawl (as the driver, who wasn’t around, most-likely intended me to do). And I got annoyed…how arrogant of this guy to park this thing here on the side of the street, hood down, keys in the ignition? I then said to my husband, “I wish I had the guts to hop into that thing and take it for a spin around the block.” And at the same time I thought, Mann, if I had cancer, I’d so have the guts to do that. So I guess that’s what I would attempt if I knew I was going to fall anyway--go back to Kingsville and without asking, take sometomes 1932 Rolls-Royce for a spin around the block.

Kerstin said...

I would like to think that by earthy-crunchy you perhaps meant that bloggers are down-to-earth-crackers! Kind of like we are real people with something chompy to say.

Being someone who finds the best arguments after the event, I admire quick-witted people who are sharp and on the ball. And in your case it doesn't really matter because you master the art of very beautiful and articulate writing.

I liked your list of who your readers are as I find myself in it! And now I shall walk over to Faces and check out Laini's Ladies, I had no idea they were there!

Take care,

Patry Francis said...

Such great comments! Let me begin--

kathryn: I love your definition of earthy crunchy: Authentic. Yes. Now, that is the word I wish I had on the tip of my tongue during that lunch.

I do think it's great that the publishing world is so tuned into the vitality of blogland--and eager to know more. We are becoming a force!

r: An earthy crunchy from way back...Maybe I was thinking of you?

bibi: If I tried hauled out my high school French, I'm afraid I wouldn't know what I meant either! Thanks for smiling on my blog.

floots: shy but knowing contact...Isn't that what we make in blogland? But how to explain that?

zhoen: Thanks for my first laugh out loud moment of the day.

dale: If I could only be halfway as inarticulately articulate as you are (especially in your recent short on qarrtsiluni) I would die happy. Does that make sense?

curmudgeon: Thanks for providing a real definition. Actually, I've always loved the term "tree hugger" though it's frequently used in a disparaging way.

susan: So happy to see a New York editor who loves rap on my blog! Especially one who reads Denis Johnson and Eliz. Cox. (I took a weeklong fiction workshop with Cox once, and I still consult my notes.)

coll: I'm glad you like it! Now I wonder how the little dog feels...

S. Scout: "people who care about the world around them" Now, that would have been another great way of phrasing it.

chuck: A more literal definition: I love it! Yes, mortals read my blog. That would do.

jordan: dear friend! Have I told you how wonderful you are in return? So happy you found the ladies!

(More later. Time to go to pizza night at Mom's house.)

Jonathan Wonham said...

I'm certainly an earthy crunchy person.

I'm definitiely an earth cruncher person also: it's the only way to tell claystone from siltstone: you can feel the silt between your teeth, but not the clay.

Dave said...

Sometimes I think the reason I became a writer is because I'm so damn inarticulate.
Yep. But I'm not sure even writing helps, in my case. How many times do ever manage to think of a witty or even half-way amusing blog comment?

The term at issue here was more recently (late 80s?) abbreviated to "crunchy," at least in my area. I haven't heard it for a couple of years, but then I don't get out much. Too busy with the granola ranch.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am just fine with being described as "earthy-crunchy" (especially if you include "nutty" in there somewhere), although I'm sure your marketers were disappointed. It's a large demographic, the earthy-crunchy folk, but one which posh citified types tend to dismiss because we are difficult to sell to. We will buy your book because you wrote it and because the quality of your writing is immediately obvious, not because of anything they can do to promote it. Fortunately, other kinds of people will be easily enough driven to read your work by your marketers' skills, and once they do, I know your talent and your voice and vision will hook them, too.

Another adjective you could use another time for those of us who read you here and elsewhere around the 'net might be "complicated." That might terrify the crap out of your publicists even more, though. heh heh

As for your question, "What would you do...?", etc., it's funny you would ask that because the question I always ask myself, the real question things always end up boiling down to, is "What will I do now knowing the odds are even that I will fail?" Great example happens now, this week: I just quit my job at Whole Foods without a clue what I'm going to do next, even though I'm 43 years old, have no degree, have a sick old cat I love and don't want to be away from for too big a part of any day while he's still around, and knowing that I look ridiculous and unemployable on paper.

Ha! Challenges! Here they come, like 'em or not!

Anonymous said...

Mmmm crunchy....

I read your blog because I like finding fellow writers and reading their thoughts on everything they decide to write in the blog. Yours is most interesting. (Boy how's that for articulate?)

Patry Francis said...

Fred: I'll give you the gnocchi recipe if you have a good one for granola...

Edie: What a wonderful and vivid story. Thanks for sharing it here--though maybe it comes under the category of "What would you do if you knew you wouldn't be arrested?"

kirsten: If you buy one of the Ladies, you'll have to post one of your marvelous pictures!

jonathan: Maybe I was thinking of you when those words came out. As a geologist, being an earth cruncher is practically a necessity!

dave: Oh, I know what you mean about the blog comments. Just when I think I've come up with something utterly original to say, I look and find the commenter before me has said the exact same thing. Only better.

sara: There is a lot of courage in the way you turn the question of "what would you do..." around and then seem to laugh in its face. However unqualified you may look "on paper", degree or no degree, you are clearly qualified for many things--editing maybe? Writing? Until you find the next phase in your adventure, enjoy your cat, your love and that lovely town of yours. Oh, and yes, thank you for
the kind words about my writing.

todd: I'd have to agree. People sure do say some interesting things here. Thanks for being one of them.

MB said...

Hilarious and utterly loveable as usual.

My kind of articulate, too.

Who reads your blog? People like me, who love great writing.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm pretty earthy, and I'm eating Cheezits right now that are crunchy, so I guess you're right!

paris parfait said...

Earthy crunchy people? That's a new one - and a compliment, I think. And hooray for Laini's Ladies!

Lorna said...

I'm earthy and crunchy, but not at the same time. I've seen those lovely pixieish ladies here too, and been tempted to buy, but I have to save my money for budding artists who want glue that has its own blue snowflakes...

daringtowrite said...

I'm still chortling too much over this post to leave a meaningful comment.

Jenny said...

I have no idea how I came across your blog, but I enjoy it. And I happen to be an earthy crunchy person who writes for an earthy crunchy mag.

Anonymous said...

I always think that people who don't blog can't begin to understand the dynamic that happens here...because, truly, how the hell can WE even explain it? The bonds that form in the blogosphere are one of the great mysteries of the internet...why they happen, why they're so solid, how they're unlike 'real' life connetions, etc. That's what makes it so fantastic--the fact that you CAN'T easily label your blog readers. None of us can...and personally, I wouldn't have it any other way. :)

Anonymous said...

. . . excuse me, ma'am, I prefer the term ex-granolahead, which is basically earthy crunchy once removed, because when target begins to sell statues of the buddha and 'zen plates', and they do, you know, then it's time to distance one's self from the crunchy fray :) As for your meeting with important literary folk, they were probably just stunned into silence by your wit, charm, gentle vivacity and general display of coruscating humbleness. Because you rock. Yeah. :)

Left-handed Trees... said...

Well...I found your blog through "Sunday Scribblings"...as a book reviewer and educator, I read just about EVERYTHING...yes to woman, mother, writer, living in a place you've probably never been, open-minded and open-hearted--and not at all offended by the term "Earthy crunchy" (in fact this isn't the first time I've been similarly accused...). Through your blog, I'm getting to read some very interesting writing, learning about another person's creative process, and damnit--being inspired to bake Literary Blues pies (finally posted about this!) when I HATE to cook. So, tell your publishers THAT...

Stephanie said...

Oooh, I used to shop there too. I had completely forgotten about that place. I always enjoy your photos, Patry.

Anonymous said...

Count me in! I'm an earthy cruncy reader who needs time to answer questions like that too.