I read a lot of cooking blogs. If you’re a fan of a bad pun, I devour them. My love for recipes and cooking began during my last bout of writer’s block. I like good food just as much as the next person and have always had a romantic idea of becoming a chef. So, as I felt my writing stagnate and frustrate me, I started turning my sights towards cooking.
Before I knew it, I was reading more articles on cooking techniques, than I was essays. I was bookmarking cooking sites and printing out recipes that I thought I could replicate. I found myself online shopping for cookbooks that would teach me the art of Cajun cooking or baking French pastries. But I kept my new secret to myself, feeling that my time was meant for writing and writing alone. However, a joy came out of my newfound hobby. The feeling of learning something new, while another, my writing, waited on the sidelines. I felt bad, thinking to myself, that if I put the same effort into writing as I did for researching cooking, my essays would be done. I felt like I was having an affair with my writing. So, while I discovered how to blanch green beans and all of the tastiest uses of turmeric (eggs, put turmeric in your eggs), I was letting my writing sit and collect dust. I learned how to make gastrique and a pretty killer banana bread and, all the while, my writing sat and it waited until I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I felt bad. I wanted to give my writing a hug and say, “I’m sorry, you just annoy me sometimes.” So, I closed my cooking tabs and went back to making rice for dinner, focusing on my writing, entirely.
A little while ago I read E.J. Levy’s essay, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Now, this essay deals with so many different topics; family, a mother-daughter relationship, identity, Julia Child, but it is also, as the title suggests, about cooking. It occurred to me, while reading, that here was this beautifully crafted essay that came about, because the author cared and focused on something, other than writing, for a little while. She took something that had meant a lot to her mother and then pressed it against her own life experience and the result was moving and fantastic.
The fact of it is, sometimes I avoid writing. Sometimes, I avoid my writing and fall in love with new things. I used to feel a lot of guilt for this, I felt that if I were going to pursue a career in writing, it needed to be my sole obsession. However, when I get tunnel vision and focus on writing and nothing else, my work starts to lose it’s, shall we say, “oomph.” My writing lives off of my other hobbies and, I’ve come to realize, this is a really fantastic thing. My writing mirrors who I am and I am a combination of so many different experiences, so many different passions, and loves, why wouldn’t my work reflect that?
Hanna Bourdon, Assistant Editor