My fingers hurt, from too much writing, I suppose. I am finally peering around the corner in search of an agent for novel número uno which is ready to spread its wings and fly (or crash, more likely, but may its brief flight be glorious and free). I’m anxious to move on to another round of edits on novel número dos which I’m quite passionate about.
Surely I am the absolute worst marketer of self, and find it quite disturbing that a writer (and I’m not vain enough to think of myself in this example) may write the most incredible work of literary genius but if he or she cannot sell it in a pitch, a one-page query letter, then it may forever remain locked as bytes on a computer or in the digital wasteland of ebooks no one even knows about. Kind of like the land of forgotten toys. So tragic.
Fortunately I write for pleasure, not food on my table, a luxury not lost on me, and while I do hope to succeed in publishing at least one book before, well, that… I have no delusions of grandeur. I’m prepared for rejection, I think.
It brings me back to the days when I would visit my friends in Williamsburg, painters and sculptors all of them. They would sit and stare at one another’s work for hours on end, tossing out critiques which at times would make me wince at their bitter bite. Then they would embrace and laugh and go out for the rest of the night, arm in arm, the best of friends.
Jhumpa Lahiri in an interview said in a rather brusque and seemingly cold way that once she’s published a work she moves on to the next, that the first means little to her anymore, that it is dead to her. (I paraphrase, clearly she said it with greater finesse.) I get that now. There is a separation, a necessary one, from one’s creation once it is “born,” which is heartless but healthy.
My work is still unpublished, and hence not quite dead, so meanwhile, among other things, I cook.
Today I made this amazing curry with nan bread. My first attempt at making nan (delicious, but a bit sweet). Cooking is one of my passions which I embrace with abandon and relative success (note that baking, with its need for precision and exactness, is not my forte, perhaps for the same reason I grow weary and overwhelmed with endless rounds of editing, yearning for a perfection which does not exist).
One of my most delicious friends suggested that we cook together, and we did, once so far, but hopefully will again. How odd it is that something that was once so normal now must be scheduled and planned. She grew up with sisters and misses that casual interchange of women in the kitchen, where the aromas and colorful palette of ingredients magically blends with the laughter of tales told and the whispers of secrets shared. My time spent in developing countries is really my only taste of such magic, so I’m pleased to fill in for the absent sisters.
Writing this post made me recall two food-related sites/ventures worth noting.
The first is Culture Kitchen SF. It is no coincidence that some of my favorite people come from the city on the Bay, and if I were there I would surely sign up for a class. Their mission is to spread culture through food, and one of the ways they do so is via classes which pair participants with master cooks from other cultures who cook together with them for—in their words—we believe more than food gets made in the kitchen. How very true. Collaboration is not something developed in marketing studies, it is basic and natural, and cooking is one of its most beautiful displays.
These master cooks include Aminah, Aradhita, Baraka and Dang, Letty and Linh, Paloma and Patty, a veritable United Nations of women, none of whom went to culinary school, all of whom were taught by their friends, their mothers, aunts and grandmothers (with a smattering of men in there, I imagine, although most are from traditional cultures where men are not commonly active in the kitchen).
The other site is that of The Perennial Plate…Adventurous and Sustainable Eating which I heard about via their video about the tomato pickers in Immokalee, Florida (where 1/3 of our tomatoes come from). Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine documented their six-month Real Food Road Trip, the itinerary for which was guided and followed by viewers using all forms of social media. Their site is replete with bytes of cooking and advocacy, of the joys and sorrows of food and its production. Theirs is a beautiful marriage of culinary and visual arts, with a clear savvy-ness of production and marketing. Oh, and their mission is to help others to appreciate and understand where good food comes from and how to enjoy it. Indeed.
Passionate creation, in all its forms, is never perfect, is it?