Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Recipe for (dis)stressed writers

I thought you might like to share my lunch with me today: this is originally from the Good Food magazine's book of 101 Low Fat feasts ... with a novelists adaptations.

2 tbps ollive oil
I large dollop of angst about wasting your life trying to write
2 onions sliced thinly
2 garlic gloves crushed ( use quick garlic from the jar - who has time to peel the stuff?)
120z diced pumpkin or butternut squash ( don't worry about being too exact- shove a whole butternut squash in, it will be fine)
a good pound ( or kilo if you prefer) of panic becuase by 12.50 it is apparent that the timelines in your novel are horribly confused and that to fix it yet more chapters of this unending thing are required
400g can chopped tomatoes
400ml vegetable stock ( and yes I can mix metric and imperial if I like)
12oz pasta
420g can mixed beans in chilli sauce ( or Asda own in tomato sauce and add chilli powder)


Begin in study in state of desperation. Read and reread and read again previous chapters of novel trying to make sense of it and taking nothing in.
Give up and go to kitchen.
Chop onion with fervour imagining it to be the person who encouraged you to give up well paid days at work to write fiction
Fry with olive oil until softened
Add garlic and pumkin/ sqaush and fry for five minute.
Take deep breaths and remember that there is no deadline for a first novel.
Stir in tomatoes and stock. Bring to boil and simmer for eight minutes or so with a pan of water boiling seperately. Use tears to salt the water ( or Saxa if you have a hygiene thing going on)
Go back to study and bring chapter print out and scrap paper to kitchen. Spread over worktop and begin to scribble down the events that have to happen in the order that makes sense.
Smell the squash burning. I said simmer not boil.
Rescue and throw pasta into boiling water for time required on packet.
Add the beans to the pan after another 7 minutes and drain pasta.
Take deep breaths and talk aloud to yourself telling the story step by step. Write the sequence down
Combine pasta and bean/squash mixture.
Take notes and bowl of food into dining room. Clear small patch around quilting material and eat hot steaming conmforting food whilst examining the notes.
Realise that the solution lies in separating one long chapter into two halves and placing other material between thsoe halves.
Celebrate with two fairy cakes for pudding and vow never to have a two week break from a novel again.
Ammend that to vowing never to write a novel again
Leave dishes for later and retire to study to write a coherent plan.
Write just enough to feel you have conquered the panic then turn to blog instead for ease.
After completing blog pack and go to Cumbria for a talk about African fabrics followed the day later by a workshop on indigo dying.
Leave remains of sauce for husband's tea or if circumstances differ freeze or water down for hearty soup.

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