Sunday, May 15, 2011

Case Study 85: "The Slow Baked Chocolate Cupcake"

Before we go any further, let me clear something up.

There is nothing slow baked about this cupcakeBut I have been doing that thinking thing again, and after all was said and done, this just felt right. 

"I had always imagined myself somewhere else, but somehow I am here."  This is what someone said to me at a party a few weeks ago, and I can't get it out of my head.  I always believed that the art of being present was a difficult one to master.  But this made me think about what it means to draft your story one way, only to find that things pan out differently than you had written.  

I had a friend who could not get past chapter seventeen of his book.  There was something in the alignment of words or the movement of characters that made tattered edges fray at his fingertips.  Another friend was stuck on what seemed like page eleven.  Finding no answer in the pages before, the paragraphs left her empty, gnawing away what she couldn’t devour.  The pen loses to hunger as the mightier of swords.   

Chapters begin and chapters end.  As we age, we learn that everybody has a life history.  It is made up of stanzas and chapters that are both free and completely dependent on each other.  When I studied the anthropology of individual lives, I found that while you can chronicle someone's chapters, a cohesive life history is one that is both written and revised.  As I grew up, however, I realized that we forget about the rewriting bit. 

Turn the page 
Write deliberately 
Find your protagonist
Weave your story through the chapter ends.
The author appears on the back of the book.

This all somehow brings me to the slow baked chocolate cupcakes with marshmallow frosting.  This is a recipe I've never tried before.  It is more labor intensive.  It is rich and melted, and not rushed at all.  It takes more than one bowl.  It is not my go-to recipe.  That is what it should become. 

And here is where I am with all of this: I have writer's block.  I don't know what my next page says.  For once, I am trying to find peace in this. The problem is, I want it all.  I move about, maybe too much, and I can't stop. I make chocolate cupcakes in a flash, so I can get out the door for another adventure.  Hither and thither.  I like to wander.  I've learned to close chapters very easily these days.  I'm greedy with time.   And for years, I spent the half the minutes in a moment looking for the next step.

A very wise friend said to me "look forward to your weekends, but don't feel like you have to make up for anything and everything."  I try to live with few regrets.  I have wants and dreams, and I'm pretty certain that I can get them because I'm bossy like that.  

But I have to remember that sometimes today's paragraph is just about how I am here, nestled on the couch on a rainy day in Manhattan, drinking tea and eating a slow baked chocolate cupcake.  And that is quite alright.

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