the best story i ever ate

soupI’ve been re-hashing my old blog posts lately, due to the unwanted appendage you might call writer’s block. I like to call it “work.” Or, “the ebb of the creative subconscious.” Or, “absolute self-delusion.” I just wouldn’t call it late for dinner.

Speaking of dinner, I’ve been eating dinner at friends’ houses, lately. Well, one friend in particular, who is kind enough to share her food and wine with me. I gladly acquiesce, mostly because I like to be with her, but also because it keeps me from acknowledging that my book is going nowhere fast. Plus, she is a good cook.

Her recent stew, for example, provides a perfect analogy for complex writing – the kind of writing you’d give up your left toe for. (Not really. I like my left toe. Besides, in what scenario would someone grant you fabulous writing in exchange for your lower left phalange? Not many, I’m thinking).

The flavors of this particular stew, multi-layered and intricate, brought me to places only few have – a veritable hotspot of explosive joy, all on a silver spoon. The kind of stew that, while you’re eating it, you can’t do much else.

“How are you enjoying your stew?”

“Hmmm…?”

“What do you think of the hot weather we’ve been having?”

“Oh. Um.”

“Your tank-top is on fire.”

“Ah. Well.”

It would be lovely to have writing skills akin to this. The kind of writing that keeps a person up all night, sweaty and restless in the sheets, that causes a parent to shush inquisitive children, that blocks out all exterior noise and movement and light until the very last word is eaten and digested.

I’d be glad, at this point, just to create something that doesn’t make my nose wrinkle. It doesn’t need to be gourmet. It just has to be something. Something other than, you know…gulps of air. Not cotton candy, or dry popcorn, or rice cakes. None of these, but something substantial. Like a hot, brothy, heady stew, full of words that promise total immersion. To be slurped, not sipped – inhaled, not chewed. A dish worthy of all the crappy drafts and attempts that came before it, worthy of the time spent editing, re-working, and pulling hair out. Beautiful and rich.

It is, perhaps, too much to ask. But I’m asking for it, anyway. Along with a glass of Pinot, and some good company.

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