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Marinating

Tonight, I’m making Pacific Lime Chicken, from a book that I love by Diana Henry, called Cook Simple. I’ve made a marinade of lime juice, soy sauce, honey, garlic and thyme, and now the chicken is, well, marinating. And so is my book.

Yes, another post about my book. As the man said: I’ve suffered for my art, now it’s your turn. I feel like I’ve learned more about it in the past few weeks than I have in the year or so (argh) I’ve been writing it. I’ve recently been despondent because I felt that the whole thing was awful: the subject matter wasn’t universal enough, it was too small, too autobiographical and too superficial, and definitely not publishable. Now I think: well, this may still turn out to be the case, but it’s still possible for me to fix that as much as I can and make it the best book that I can make it.

A couple of years ago (to move from culinary to artistic metaphors) I did life drawing classes with a very good teacher. David often insisted on the importance of stepping back, and looking at our sketches from a distance. Because if you’re too close, you don’t see things clearly. Simple, obvious advice: but sometimes the obvious things are the hardest to see.

So that’s what I’m doing right now: stepping right back, walking around my story from all its angles and considering it from more of a distance. It’s hard, but I’m enjoying that distance. It’s good. I still often feel that it’s not worth continuing with, but in a way that doesn’t matter.

I remember the coach at my running club saying, ‘You have to learn to run when you’re tired.’ At the time this seemed like a frankly alien concept: why on earth would I run when I was tired? But, he’s right. You have to dig deep, find those resources and keep on plugging. With the odd marinating rest period.

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