BY FATEMEH EBRAHIMI
If, like me, you’re a woman in a traditional family and society, whether you’re working or not, you must do the housework. If you’re single and lucky enough to have a sister, these duties will be divided between you. But if you’re very unlucky, your main job is to cook. Why is that unlucky? Because you can never cook something that everyone in the family will eat or be satisfied with.
Your younger brother hates onions, your nephews will never touch tomatoes or mushrooms, your father won’t eat pasta, your mother has diabetes and doesn’t eat sweet foods, your sister hates bell peppers and carrots, and you yourself never eat meat. Now, you not only have to think about what to cook for lunch and dinner every day, but you will never be able to please everyone.
This task of cooking caused my self-confidence to drop so much that most of the time I thought I would never be able to do anything well enough to make everyone happy. I was always sure I couldn’t do my favourite thing, writing, with this fear. I could never write anything that anyone would like, and I thought maybe I would be a bad writer like I’m a bad cook.
That was until I read a recommendation from the famous author John Steinbeck. He said, ‘Forget your generalized audience.’ What this author taught me is that instead of pleasing everyone, it’s enough to please just one person. Maybe his advice has more or different content than I received, but it’s completely suitable for me.
If I were to cook only for my sister, as we have almost the same taste in food, I could cook something she likes, and I would get compliments on my cooking at least once. If I were to write only for my sister, for a specific person whom I know and who loves to read my writings, I wouldn’t be so afraid and trembling, and this fear wouldn’t go so far that I would never write.
Steinbeck’s advice made me write a short story for my sister for the first time. For a special audience that doesn’t scare me, doesn’t make me stop trying to write and, fortunately, gives me enough motivation to write. Most importantly, it made me do what I love, which is writing.
About the Author
Fatemeh Ebrahimi graduated from Ferdowsi University of Mashhad with a degree in Geography and Rural Planning. She was shortlisted in the June 2023 My Writing Journey Competition.