“As long as we are able to
be extravagant we will be
hugely and damply
extravagant. Then we will drop
foil by foil to the ground. This
is our unalterable task, and we do it
And they went on. “Listen,
the heart-shackles are not, as you think,
death, illness, pain,
unrequited hope, not loneliness, but
lassitude, rue, vainglory, fear, anxiety,
Their fragrance all the while rising
from their blind bodies, making me
spin with joy.
– Mary Oliver, “WHEN THE ROSES SPEAK, I PAY ATTENTION” from Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
We have been trying to have a small get together with one of my friends and her husband for months now. It’s been hard to coordinate because her schedule is rather busy and she’s wrangling littles.
The plan, as most of our plans tend to be, was to have them over, ply them with drinks and childfree time, and have a nicely adult dinner.
She is vegetarian, so my usual dinner party stand-bys don’t really work. I don’t have much practice planning a vegetarian menu, but I knew that I wanted to stay away from the here-is-some-pasta-I-guess? vegetarian solution. I wanted to put together a meal that was still simple, but didn’t rely too much on bread/pasta/rice to act as filler.
Enter, my Ottolenghi cookbook. (And also the Serious Eats website, as per usual, for ease of referencing in the kitchen.) Between it and it’s predecessor Plenty, both by Yotam Ottolenghi, there are plenty (heh) of tasty and beautiful vegetarian recipes.
We settled on a date — it was supposed to be this past weekend — but at the last moment, childcare plans fell through and they had to reschedule.
At that point, I had already gathered ingredients for Ottolenghi’s sweet potato galettes, as seen on the cookbook cover. I could have abandoned the cooking plans altogether, but why waste the opportunity to try a new recipe and go meat-free for the weekend in the process?
It turned out, as has everything else I’ve made from these cookbooks, delicious.
I’m already thinking about possible future riffs:
– Purple potatoes, chili powder, cotija + parsley cilantro oil
– Beets, pistachios, goat cheese (plus figs if additional sweetness desired)
– Carrots, garam masala, spicy pecans
– Turnips and apples, parmesan, maybe some bacon + tarragon in the oil
But if you want to try to original, here’s the recipe.
As long as you’re dancing, you can
break the rules.
Sometimes breaking the rules is just
extending the rules.
Sometimes there are no rules.
– Mary Oliver, “THREE THINGS TO REMEMBER” from Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver
Ugh. This has been the week of errands and interruptions. I did not get as much done this week as I would have liked. Revisions and rewriting still going slowly — it’s all starting to feel very lateral and like stalling. But, like we’ve talked about before, I have no perspective.
Because that front isn’t feeling very satisfying, some of my structures have slipped, and I find myself spending time in the afternoon and evening scrolling mindlessly through Twitter (I am very much a lurker). Which not only is wasting my time, but is putting me in a negative mental space. But like all dopamine drips, once I started doing it, it was hard to put the phone away. So I think this upcoming week is going to see my phone in another room and strict observation of no social media. Gotta break those habit loops.
Speaking of Twitter, did y’all see the whole #CopyPasteCris debacle? Courtney Milan kicked it off when she discovered that someone had plagiarized parts from her book The Duchess War. She named names and posted side-by-sides in a blog post. Then Romancelandia Twitter started compiling receipts and discovered that over twenty authors (and inexplicably, a couple of recipes and a couple of articles) had also been plagiarized (What in the actual fuck?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE?). The list includes many well-known romance authors including Tessa Dare, Lisa Kleypas, Kresley Cole, Loretta Chase, and Sarah MacLean. And. Nora Roberts. Who does. not. suffer. fools. It’s a saga, and you should check it out.
As for the charge of escapism, what does escape mean? Escape from real life, responsibility, order, duty, piety, is what the charge implies. But nobody, except the most criminally irresponsible or pitifully incompetent, escapes to jail. The direction of escape is toward freedom. So what is “escapism” an accusation of?
– Ursula K. Le Guin, “It Doesn’t Have to Be the Way It Is” from No Time to Spare
Revisions are just a wholly different beast than writing new stories. It’s hard to feel like I’m making progress because I’m losing perspective. I made several lateral revisions today — I didn’t feel like they made the piece better or worse necessarily, just different. It’s a whole different skill set to work on, it feels like.
That’s left me feeling kind of listless this week because I’m having trouble figuring out how to mark progress. Anyone have any tips?
The other day, a package from my parents showed up on our doorstep completely unannounced. But sometimes my parents send us care packages out of the blue, so Adam and I were pretty pumped. Usually it’s food or tea.
We opened the cardboard box, brushed away packing peanuts, and discovered this.
We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort.
And that is why we write.
– Neil Gaiman, “Telling Lies for a Living… And Why We Do It: The Newbery Medal Speech, 2009” from The View from the Cheap Seats
Bit of a slow week. I did some revisions on a short horror piece about sirens, but it’s still not sitting right. I can’t tell if it wants to be longer or not. I also added (and then subtracted) many words to a short story about memories. I’m not entirely sure where it wants to go, so I’ve been playing around with different structures, but this is one that might need to go back to scratch and be rebuilt from the ground up. I really, really like the idea though, so I’m reluctant to let it go.
I’m finding that many of my stories right now are about memory and narrative, and they have a tendency to take a dark and twisty bent.
Lots of reading and thinking this week and not as many new words as I’d like. But then again, maybe that’s what revisions feel like? I don’t know yet.
Fiction is both process and mystery, knowledge and imagination. It lies somewhere on a spectrum that begins with poetry and ends with statistics. It is art. It takes the forms and shapes of the real world and re-views them with new perception: the shade, texture, and weight of the subconscious and the unreal.
– Karen Lord, “What Is/What If: The Beauty of Mystery” from Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer