Julie and Julia and You

I found time to catch up on some movies I missed during 2009 thanks to Netflix and some down time over the holidays.  I expected that the movie Julia and Julie was going to be a light-hearted story about two women who lived in two different times but enjoyed a love of cooking and food.  It was that, of course, but the core of the story was about book publishing – something I didn’t expect.

Julie is a “failed” writer whose novel was not picked up by any publishers.  She’s searching for purpose thinking that she has to figure out what to do since she is no longer a writer.  So she gives herself what she calls a “deranged assignment” to cook all of the recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking over the course of a year and to blog about the adventure.

Julia, also searching for some sort of purpose for her life, other than travel and marriage, decides that since she loves to eat she might love to cook.  She signs on at the Cordon Bleu in Paris and by the third week there she is in “utter bliss”.  As time goes on she realizes that there is an unfulfilled need, to have a French cookbook available in English.

Julie’s assignment gives her a “regimen”, short term goals, something purposeful to do everyday. Julia similarly finds something to do everyday as she is learning the skills of French cooks, although they do not understand or appreciate the joy she brings to the mundane tasks of the kitchen.

I watched in wonder as both played out the real-life drama of getting a book published.  The best thing Julie did was to give up on the expected dream of becoming a novelist and living happily ever after in the life she was prepared to inhabit.  Giving up the past completely, whether contentedly or fighting it every step of the way is the only way to start anew.  Giving up the old dream does not mean you are giving up your old skills, and she connects in a new and powerful way with an audience she didn’t expect or do much to find.

Julia had no intent or interest in publishing a book, but the need was too great in her mind to ignore the assignment life had given her.  She states her mission clearly: “To write a French cookbook for American women who don’t have cooks.”  Her purpose became her passion and the way was anything but smooth.

Neither of these women was looking for money.  They both were lost and then found through a simple step by step search to find passion.  They didn’t know anything about what they were getting into so they didn’t know to be afraid.  But they set an intent and stuck with it, despite criticism and set backs.

Both found fame, fortune and happiness in the process.  And both became published authors and not just once. Both found their purpose in books.

I wish for you that you have the struggles, soul-searching and left turns that these two women had in their book publishing journeys.  Writers who easily become authors never feel the same sense of mastery and personal pride that authors who have faced disappointment and have persisted in the face of it do.  They often do not feel they deserve success and will undermine or downplay their accomplishments.  We know we’ve found our passions when they drive us to persevere.

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  • Chris Wilson  On January 15, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    I just wanted to say that I appreciated what you had to say about the movie “Julie & Julia.” I recently saw the movie myself and loved it for all the messages it had to share with not only writers, but with ANYONE who has a passion for something in their life.

    As a writer who also wants to start a blog, I could relate to it in that way too.

    Thanks for the post!

    – Chris

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