Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lamentation

Here is a photo of one of many bags of LuckyGuy Bakery HoosierMama Brownies that were made as part of a fundraiser for Jack's school. They are pretty little bags, full of rich rich richrichrich chocolate goodness. These days, I (really) don't enjoy being in the kitchen too much, truth-be-told, but as I gazed at the beautiful finished products of today's labors, I was reminded how instantly gratifying baking can be. Most people love LuckyGuy products and are always so happy to get them. One of my "customers" buys a full batch of HoosierMama Brownies from time to time to give as her signature Thank You Gifts. A professor I know at IU used to buy them for her grad students from time to time. I ran into her and two of her grad students one day on the street. When one of them realized that I made the brownies he so adored, he threw his arms around me and waxed effusively about how mine were the best brownies in the world. I felt like a rock star.

In contrast to my writing life these past weeks, my baking life - if you will - gives me an opportunity to create something delicious and beautiful that is almost certain to be enjoyed and appreciated. I have full and sole control of the quality of the product, and thousands (or at least many many hundreds) of hours of experience at the craft. I am confident of my abilities and know that I can produce a delicious product, beautifully packaged. My writing life, on the other hand, is in such a slump. I can't seem to finish anything or come up with any novel ideas or even clever ways to present a not so novel idea. I just shipped off the copies of my Over the Moon script for an upcoming reading at the Playwright's Center in Minneapolis and I was overwhelmed with negativity about the work. The plot is predictable, cliche and the play has some serious problems. I don't know if I have the ambition or the talent to fix them. I don't write this to evoke reassurance. I have no idea why I'm writing it. Maybe it is to avoid going back into the kitchen to make Rogan Josh for dinner tonight. I unwisely defrosted some lamb yesterday and now I have an imperative to get it cooked. (My responsible farmer/uber healthy eater husband bought an entire locally raised lamb late last fall and we are working our way through various cuts of it over time. It's great stuff, but some days I just want to have a bowl of cereal for dinner, feed my husband and kid something ready made from the store and call it a day, you know?)

I started my creative endeavors later in life than many people I know. It is hard not to get discouraged by that fact, even though it shouldn't matter much at all. I'm in a class at IU right now with several undergrads (and one woman in her thirties and a grad student) and I envy them their early creative start in the arts. On the other hand, I know I have the wonderful circumstance of not having to make a living from art and reasonable time in which to produce it. It is never lost on me how fortunate I am. But, I gotta tell you that lately, I wish I'd never taken up the pen in earnest. It won't give me peace and I feel an almost constant pressure to produce something that is reasonably good. I am starting to think that I aspire to something I don't think I have the stuff to create.

I am going East in a few weeks to see some theatre and some friends and maybe this will pull me out of my slump. Here's hoping. Until then, I think I'll stick to baking as much as possible. Success breeds success and maybe some of that will spill over into my writing. You never know.

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