Karen MacNeil | On The Wine Bible, Backstory and Being True
by L.M. Archer, FWS | Bourgogne ML
By the time Karen MacNeil turned nineteen, she’d already run away from home, put herself through high school juggling three concurrent jobs, and ventured to New York City to write.
Today, she claims fame as the only U.S. winner of every major wine award in the English language, including the James Beard Foundation Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional of the Year (2004), induction into the Wine Media Guild Hall of Fame (2010), and an Emmy for her PBS television series.
In August, Karen MacNeil spoke on a “Women in the Wine Industry” panel at WBC15 in Finger Lakes Wine Country. She also gave the keynote. As a parting gift, she graciously gifted attendees with a second edition of her tome The Wine Bible.
The updated edition, a tour de force of all things wine and vine in a visually appealing, verbally accessible format, deserves kudos for both heft and content.
Yes, the updated The Wine Bible merits attention. But as a writer, so does Karen MacNeil’s backstory, a story shared during her keynote. Her journey to The Wine Bible starts and ends with fierce determination, perseverance, and self-reliance, and a lot of rejection slips. All her struggles, hardships, and successes inform her voice as a writer.
MacNeil contends her success pivots on six key components, condensed here:
- “Think through your own story, and what that story has taught you.” Be real.
- “Develop a unique style.” Reach beyond voice.
- “Agonize over your writing.” Respect each word.
- “Tell the story, don’t write the story.” Focus, up close and personal.
- “Be a learner. ” Question. Study. Strive. Know your subject.
- “Feed your reputation.” Be of service.
The writer’s job, then, warps and wefts words into the artful weaving of tales for the benefit of others. Whatever the subject, the writer’s journey begins and ends with words – each precious, resonate, true.
Karen MacNeil contends,”Wine is the last true thing.” Indeed.
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Jacqueline | Karen MacNeil | Napa