Friday, January 15, 2010

The Blind Side of the Creative Mind

from Emily Bryan . . .

I've so enjoyed hearing from the other Chatelaines about how they start a new manuscript this past week! Hope you did too.

Right now, I'm head down on a story, about 100 pages in, so I'm not reading for pleasure much (my way of ensuring someone else's words don't wander around my subconscious and accidently flow out my fingers). But I am watching movies when I get a chance to take a break from writing.

Two nights ago, I watched Julie & Julia with my fam. What a delight! I'll have words with anyone who says Meryl Streep isn't this country's best living actress.

I didn't expect to enjoy this story so much. I am, quite possibly, the world's worst cook. I have indeed been known to burn water. My mother recognized this deficiency early and put me to work setting the table, something for which I showed aptitude. (Do not tangle with me about which fork goes where!) On occasion, I was allowed to toss the salad.

But cook? Believe me when I tell you the phrase "burnt offering" means something to my DH.

This movie made me wish I could cook. There is something splendid and sensual and nurturing in fabulous food being painstakingly prepared. The recipes were works of art.

Any work of art requires undivided attention, and perhaps obsession, from its creator. Both Julia and Julie became so wrapped up in their cooking, they failed to see how their singlemindedness was affecting those around them. Julia's husband's career was taking a downturn and she barely noticed, even when they kept being shuffled from one less impressive post to another. Julie was too caught up in the success of her blog to realize she was neglecting her relationship with husband.

And I recognized myself.

When we lived in Seattle, I was learning the writer's craft, penning the Norse love story that became MAIDENSONG, my Diana Groe debut. I should have noticed my DH was troubled, but I was too busy playing with my Vikings. When he finally told me the company he worked for was floundering and he expected to lose his job any day, he'd been carrying that burden around for months. By himself.

Creative people are by nature a little closed off. What's going on in our heads is so vivid, so exciting, it's tempting to live there instead of in the real world of laundry and paying bills and "what's for dinner?" (Well, if you're Julia Childs I guess that last one's covered!)

And writing is something that doesn't confine itself to time spent in front of a keyboard. I've been known to go suddenly quiet, get a glazed expression on my face and my DH will say, "You're writing, aren't you?" And I have to admit he's busted me. He's a good sport about it. He lets me bounce ideas off him and he's the ultimate arbiter of un-guy-like behavior that sometimes creeps into my heroes.

But there is time to write and time to be in this century instead of the one in my head. So tonight, because my masochistic DH has convinced himself he adores one of the few things I can fix, I am going to cook.

It's not Beef Bourguignon. It's not Lobster Thermador. I'm going to make . . . meatloaf.

I'll grind up the fresh veggies (in the new food processor my DH asked me to give HIM for Christmas so he could have meatloaf more often!) and crush the breadcrumbs and slop my arms up to the elbows mixing the ingredients in a bowl so big it barely fits into my cupboard.

Because my meatloaf, unremarkable as it is, says things to my DH. Things like "I notice you've worked hard all week." "Of course, you're worth the trouble of dirtying every pot and pan in the kitchen." and most especially, "I love you."

So before I disappear into another century for a day of writing, I'll set an alarm for 3 PM. That'll give me enough time to prepare the meatloaf. I want the aroma (please God, don't let me burn it!) to waft down the hall and tickle his nostrils when he steps off the elevator tonight.

What do you do to show the ones you love how you feel about them?


Cindy Holby January 15, 2010 at 11:27 AM  

I make my husband his favorite cake. We don't do treats often because we try to eat healthy so its very special when I bring out the red kitchen aid mixer he got me for my birthday one year and start mixing the batter.

For my sons its chocolate chip cookies

Janet Kay Gallagher January 15, 2010 at 12:23 PM  

Want to see that movie! Watched Julia for years and now the 24 hour food network. I made birthday cakes as a show of love and it was a love effort to get the low side of one layer to fit with the high side of the other layer.Especially when you had to put frosting in the middle. DH made cakes that could have been on magazine covers.
So I started telling everyone I loved them. Everytime I saw them instead.

librarypat January 15, 2010 at 9:55 PM  

A good post, as usual. I cook. They like pies and I like to make them. Our jobs keep us from spending much time together. I work 10 AM to 6 PM and am a night owl. My DH gets up at 4 AM for work and is usually in bed by 9 PM. We have had so much going on lately, we are seldom home at the same time. Our children and their families are all in the same boat. I like doing special meals and try to do several a year other than the holidays. We usually do an Octoberfest meal and will be having a St. Patrick's Day dinner in a few months. I really miss cooking. My husband usually fixes dinner because of our schedules. Among the reasons I'd like to retire is I'd like to cook more. By the way, meatloaf is a favorite here, too.

EmilyBryan January 16, 2010 at 4:53 AM  

Yay for you, Cindy for eating healthy. I try, but I rarely manage more than one day in a row.

EmilyBryan January 16, 2010 at 4:56 AM  

Janet, I think for a lot of families, food=love. My mother and grandmothers all had signature dishes that the family adored and felt was a special treat. My sisters all cook, but the gene is unexpressed in me.

EmilyBryan January 16, 2010 at 4:58 AM  

LibraryPat--Fine cooking is time intensive. I think lack of time is why there are more cooks like me in the world than Julie or Julia. Plus, if we eat at 9 or 10 at night, we don't look forward to a peaceful sleep!

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner January 21, 2010 at 7:25 AM  

I truly enjoyed Julie and Julia. I worship Julia child and learned to cook from reading her books. The movie made me want to cook again! (Something I don't do very often--too busy writing, LOL)

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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