Name: Charity Beth Long
Location: Charles Town, West Virginia
Years of Experience: 6
Available for writing projects: Yes
Niche/Beat/Genre: How food influences or is influenced by people and culture
Portfolio website: charitybethlong.com
Favorite food: Mashed potatoes
Writing tip for fellow writers: Cut out the noise
Charity Beth Long (a.k.a. "Kitty") runs a blog called Vintage Kitty. She enjoys sharing recipes and crafts, gorgeous photography, and discussing the intersection of food, people and culture.
How did you get started in writing?
I have always loved writing, but as a teenager, I thought that writing would be my third career.
It’s funny to think about now, because I don’t remember what my second career choice was.
My first love was musical theatre. In my spare time, I read voraciously, studied art, taught myself how to cook and to sew. Being creative came naturally to me.
So, when faced with a career change, choosing one narrow path wasn’t an option.
I decided to start my blog, Vintage Kitty, because, artistically, I wanted the freedom to explore a variety of arts, both creative and domestic.
What area of writing do you currently specialize in?
I love writing about how food connects with the human experience. We don’t eat purely for sustenance. Food represents history, culture, art, family heritage and geography. I’m passionate about telling those types of stories, old and new.
Tell us about your blog.
My blog is Vintage Kitty. It’s a hodge-podge of recipes, crafts and old-fashioned domesticity. It’s where I let my creative juices flow, and in many ways, it’s terribly unfocused… but I make no apologies! If you’re a lover of cooking and baking from scratch, and making handmade crafts, you’ll love it!
What’s your advice for struggling new writers or bloggers?
There’s a lot of noise out there. Everyone has an opinion, and it’s easy to blindly follow expert advice and reshape your work in response to so-called “constructive criticism.”
As an artist, you need to write the stories you feel compelled to tell. Not everyone will like it, but that’s okay. Keep at it and you’ll find an audience that appreciates your point of view.
What has been your biggest professional struggle over the years?
That’s easy. Self-doubt. I’m a perfectionist and very critical of my own work. It’s an obstacle that I struggle with daily.
How is your relationship with food affected by you being a writer, or vice versa?
That’s a great question. And one I’ve been thinking about a lot during the pandemic.
Food is work, and as such, at times it’s hard to enjoy the process of cooking, eating, photographing and writing. There are questions like, “Should I make that cake knowing I don’t need that in my diet?” or “Do I have to create a recipe that others might love but I hate (i.e., meatloaf)”?
It’s not all fun, even though I love it. My creative process is fueled by new experiences and the inspiration that manifests organically from that.
Pre-pandemic, restaurants and travel were that source of inspiration for new recipes. Celebrations with family and friends sparked ideas for holiday content. But the past year has been hard. I’ve only eaten in a restaurant once since the pandemic started. Holiday plans were canceled.
Months at home have felt stifling. Even though I’ve worked at home for years, this is a whole new type of isolation. I learned to bake sourdough. I’ve cooked meal after meal from scratch, but now I’ve lost my appetite for it all.
Currently, I’m quilting and watching MasterClass and trying to give myself space and compassion to find the inspiration to write again.
I’m hopeful. I recently got my first Covid vaccine shot and I’m already planning a trip to see my sister who lives in Las Vegas. New food experiences are on the horizon!
Do you have any favorite food/cooking/writing books that you recommend?
If you’re a food nerd like me, I highly suggest The Flavor Equation by Nik Sharma. The beginning of the book is filled with charts about the science of food, like chemical composition and food pigments. Totally fascinating!
I also collect vintage cookbooks and have a soft spot for the community cookbook Virginia Hospitality from the Junior League of Hampton Roads. It was published in 1975 and some of the recipes are quite dated, but many of them are classics your mom or grandma would have made. It also contains information on historic homes in Virginia.
For writing, Will Write for Food by Dianne Jacob is a great resource for beginners.
Any favorite kitchen products?
I’m a gadget hoarder. Like, I have three different tools to make ravioli. But, if I had to recommend products I could not live without, it would be my KitchenAid mixer, Global chefs knife and Le Creuset Dutch oven.
Favorite food writers or food-related TV shows/movies?
Martha Stewart was a huge inspiration in my youth. She made homemaking cool again. Right now, I’m obsessing over Waffles and Mochi. It brings together my love of puppetry and food anthropology.
What do you snack on when you’re on deadline?
Food and writing don’t mix for me. I get distracted by the food! But I love me some salty potato chips for a snack.