Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Eat it. Read it. Need it.

Welcome to Eat It. Read It. Need It. Thank you for visiting. 

One of the most pleasant experiences I’ve ever had was editing a local news and lifestyle magazine. When that job ended, I went back to combing through old journals and notebooks and piles of letters and photos, and putting together an outline for a second book. My first book, Sweet Survival: Tales of Cooking & Coping, edited by the truly awesome Jessica Wolf, was a memoir with recipes. My second book is fiction, but with the juice of real life oozing out of it.

Writing for hours at a time is one of the most delicious experiences a writer can have. On my best days, I wake up, steam almond milk, fill the Nespresso machine with water, boil some eggs for my husband and any child who is home, check my email and settle down for an intense, caffeinated 25 minutes of writing morning pages at the table my older son set up for me in the living room. The sun spills in through the bay window and I settle in. I use a pen, a journal from Staples and let it fly. If I’m lucky  the writing goes well, I have at least one good idea, and after I work out, shower and meditate, I get right back to it. A beautiful day is one when I write for three or four hours without interruption.

But eventually, my kids or my students or my husband needs something. I'll get hungry. The lovely immersion into my interior life is interrupted, and I have to attend to the demands of the outside world. I used to think these external demands were intrusive. But now I think they are crucial to making our writing time feel sacred.  Our outer lives feed our inner lives.

Writers write. But we do other things too. We teach, we edit, we talk to our students, our kids, our significant others, our writing partners, our friends, and if we're lucky, our agents and our editors. We walk our dogs, we rack our memories for details, we go on flights to our imagination, we write down what we remember, fantasize about what we forgot, contemplate our conflicts, and find ways to keep ourselves writing. 

On less capable days, we give into our vices. We think that what we've written is crap. We question our abilities, our goals. We'd rather post on Instagram or Facebook than try to write something we are proud of. When my writing goes poorly, I drag my sorry ass into the kitchen and make dinner.  I read something that will inspire me to keep writing. The goal is to do whatever I need to do to get back to feeling hopeful about my work.

If you're a writer, you know the feeling: You need your work and you also need the world. Your creative process needs your interior life to hum and glow, and your functioning self needs your  exterior life to be peaceful and productive. If I don’t have a good book to read, dinner to make or someone else's story to ponder, and my writing is going to hell in a hand-basket, I feel unmoored. 

The book I'm writing is dark. It is a funny book about sadness. This winter,  I began to wonder: What if, while tapping into the dark, I also tapped into that holy trio of eating, reading and needing, and wrote about that too? What would happen? This website is an attempt to answer that question. It's my chance to come out into the light with you.

I'll be posting every week or so. If you have books or recipes to share, or plays and movies to recommend, please share them here. Thanks for stopping by.

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