Raw Berry Cream Pie + Raw Chocolate Crust

raw berry pie + raw chocolate crust

There are days when a story chases you, when you feel like it’s falling out of you or like you have to write it, in that moment, before it’s gone; and then there are days when it doesn’t, when you sit, staring at your keyboard and photographs, searching for words like you’re hunting for lost gold.

All it means is that you’re a writer.

1_berries

Everyone from Anne Lamott to Elizabeth Gilbert will tell you this. For most of us, creativity is less a kitchen faucet, turned on and off like we please, and more a gust of wind, unpredictable and sometimes violent. While there are those of us who tap it well, who know how to do their rain dances of disciplined writing times and creative writing exercises to produce results, for a lot of us, it’s not as simple. We stare at a lot of blank screens, spend a lot of afternoons escaping for want of inspiration, do a lot of wrestling with paragraphs like we’re fighting stubborn pieces of clay. That’s how it goes.

2_ingredients

Because I’ve heard them say it, I know it’s true of authors and journalists as well as it is of, say, self-employed copywriters and Nashville food bloggers. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing someone else’s story or your own: you can still feel that same pull, that same hard-won fight and effort. You listen back to your interview, you look at pages of notes, you stare at your WordPress dashboard and you feel the familiar desire to write, the need to write and yet, all you hit is a wall. Words won’t come.

So here’s what I’d love to know: what do you do about it?

3_foodprocessor

The answers out there, like the writers, vary greatly—I recently wrote about this for my day job—and I think in having the discussion, we have a lot to offer one another. Some writers draft outlines; some riff on previous work; others leave the screen altogether, opting instead for a run in the park or conversation with friends to get their creative juices flowing.

In the more specific realm of food bloggers, sometimes it’s less the writing that’s difficult but more the coming up with topics—those of you who blog, do you feel that way? Dianne Jacob writes that finding inspiration as a food blogger may mean thinking outside a traditional recipe post, opting instead for a round-up of products you like or a new series that will set your topics for you.

4_pie

I tend to be of the camp that free-writes, that sits down and starts writing everything in my head without edits or backspaces, whirling along until something valuable appears, and, three or four or five paragraphs in, it usually does.

5_pie

Today, for example, this post originally began with “So I want to write about berry cream pie” and progressed into a few lines about Tim Riggins’s dad showing up at his football game (side question: television on in the background while you work—white noise or distraction?) and eventually became a more sculpted set of paragraphs about our living room and the ottomans we bought at T.J. Maxx.

forks and raw berry pie

It was only several paragraphs later that I hit on another approach, the direct one that this post has become, wherein I felt like I didn’t know what to say and so, said exactly that.

last plate of raw berry pie

What about you? How do you approach the writing process? Whether you write newspaper articles or nonfiction essays or poetry or blog posts or in the journal on your nightstand, what does it look like for you?

It’s true that writing can be a lonely business, but it’s less so when you invite others in.

That’s why I’m doing that here, sharing a little of my writing process, asking you to share yours—because I think, maybe, when we share our stories, we not only gain community but also, we help each other grow.

Read More

it’s not enough, but it’s something

strawberry cake

Oh, my. I hardly know what to say. When I sent that last post out into the Internet, I knew you’d be kind, but I never could have predicted you’d be that kind, or that the next morning, reading your messages, I’d have tears in my eyes learning about your friends who are young, or with children, or well into their middle age with very controlled symptoms, one still embracing a huge passion for food, or that several days later, I’d be sitting at my computer screen and wondering how in the world to thank you people, who not only encouraged me SO MUCH this week but who do that, regularly, like habit, here.

So here is what I think: Even if I had every one of you that commented on that last post over for dinner, one at a time, a meal just for you, and we sat and talked, and ate, until we were past full, feeling happy, it still wouldn’t be enough to thank you. I could bake you cookies and bring them to your doorstep. I could hug you, tight, until you could barely breathe. None of it would be enough.

So, like I am doing all the time with you, I’m just going to say thank you. Thank you. And bring you something.

cake on table

This cake, special as it is, still isn’t enough; I know that. But it’s something, and it’s what I have—kind of like that box of bath soap I bought for $3.00 at Walgreens one time when I was a kid, after my mom had given me some money and I knew her birthday was coming, and I wanted to be like the grown-ups and give something. So I sneaked to the counter when she wasn’t looking, and I bought the box with the money she had given me, and when I gave it to her later, she said how nice it was, which in a lot of ways, was her giving to me again. You guys are like her in that way—you say such kind things, and you tell me your stories, outgiving me again and again, and I here I am, offering my box of bath soap.

Read More