Curiosity: forget “Cherchez la femme” (Look for the woman.) “Cherchez l’histoire.” (Look for the story.)
As a cook, I have long regarded Julia Child as my mentor. I wrote her a fan letter to that effect in 1972: “…I have been Mastering the Art of French Cooking for the past few years and am on the verge of discarding the rest of my cookbooks…”
Julia’s warm and friendly reply, along with a carbon copy (!) of my own letter, beautifully framed, hang in my powder-room/pantry, prompting a friend to loan me the recent book As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis Devoto, the correspondence that led ultimately to publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Julia Childs’ subsequent TV career.
As a writer, I was delighted last night to read this passage: “I have gone blind proof-reading Devoto [Avis’s husband, Bernard Devoto]–and then picked up the bound book and found a mistake on the first page…It always happens. It will happen to you. If you proof it fifteen times you won’t get every error.”
One of the great advantages of print-on-demand publishing is that you can fix such mistakes when they pop out at you. Just the other day, I took care of a couple more(!) in Reflections of a Civil War Locomotive Engineer!