Fine Lines in Writing and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Yesterday, for the first time, I admitted that I’ve been in a writing funk. Blame it on any number of factors – the end of a honeymoon phase after finishing the first draft of my book, Amanda being gone, a frustrated desire to write other things that somehow get shoved out of the way in the interest of completing my daily word count in my manuscript. Whatever the cause, I sit down at my writing desk, torture 2000 words a day out of my brain, and then swiftly run away to do something – anything – else.

This is deeply troubling. It’s not like I haven’t had hard writing times before. I have. What troubles me is the lack of feeling. I sit down to my characters, the ones I’ve spent over a year with, and I feel nothing. No excitement. No inspiration. No love. Nothing.

In writing, I feel I am forever racing against a clock:  the one set by the publishing industry, the one set by myself, the one set to an arbitrary date and time that says, “Hurry, hurry, finish your book!”

There is the sense that, at all times, the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland is sprinting through my brain, sing-songing “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date. No time to say hello – goodbye! – I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.”

And the question came to me today:  what am I late for? How is it that in the first draft stages of my book, so early in my career, I can feel that I’ve somehow already failed by showing up late?

The answer is discipline. The answer is productivity. The answer is completion. But it seems to me that there should be, and likely is, a fine line between discipline and creativity, and somehow, I’ve gone too far away from that line, too far towards the extreme of discipline. I’ve disciplined the creativity right out of the process. And that will not do.

I’ll have more to say on writing and this conundrum at a later date, after I’ve had time to tease it out and think about it more clearly, but that fine line I mentioned made me think of another line I’ve been dancing around the past few weeks while Amanda has been away, and that’s the line between healthy eating and taking care of myself.

One might argue that the two are the same thing:  eating healthy could be considered part of taking care of oneself. But that care, for me, attends to emotional wellness as well as digestive. After a couple weeks of healthy dinners and soup and stretching leftovers – of tending towards the healthy extreme that naturally follows my bachelor-like fall-out when Amanda leaves – I went back towards the middle. I went towards truffles.

photo 2

I usually don’t make desserts for myself when Amanda is gone. Most recipes make too much, and I’d just as soon buy a cookie or eat an ice cream sandwich so I don’t end up binging out on dessert. In a pinch, I’ll break a few sections off a block of break-and-bake cookies I keep in the fridge and bake those up. But I wanted to make something decadent, and I needed a little sweet treat to help me through, so I made these truffles.

These little treats are an excellent dessert to have on hand for snacking, and they’re the perfect chocolate fix you need. They’re great for sharing, and I loved them so much that I’m making them when Amanda comes home just so she can understand why I’ve been raving about them so much.

photo 3

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Recipe (only slightly) adapted from Love & Olive Oil

ingredients

1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk or cream (I used vanilla soy milk and just omitted vanilla extract)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
12 oz. bag semisweet chocolate morsels
2 tablespoons shortening

directions

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add cream/milk and vanilla and blend to combine. Stir in the flour and salt and mix on low speed until combined. Stir in miniature chocolate chips. Cover dough and chill for one hour.

When dough is chilled and firm enough to handle, form the dough into roughly 1″ balls (I use a tablespoon to scoop the dough out and roll it from there). Place dough on a wax-paper lined cookie sheet and set in the freezer to chill for 30 minutes.

When you’re ready to coat your truffles, melt together the bag of chocolate morsels and the shortening to make your candy coating. Stir, and reheat as needed to keep chocolate melty.

Pull the cookie dough out of the freezer and one or two at a time, drop them into the chocolate coating, turning them with forks/spoons to cover, then gently lift out with the fork, tap on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate, and place on wax paper-lined sheet again. Once all of the truffles are dipped, place the sheet back in the refrigerator to chill until the coating has hardened up. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

Kitty photo bomb. An Otis can never be trusted.
Kitty photo bomb. An Otis can never be trusted.

8 thoughts on “Fine Lines in Writing and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

  1. fact: i want to make these. pro: i’m sure they are flat-on-the-floor phenomenal. con: same. and i really want to stay sort of fitting into the skinnies, you know what i mean? 🙂 a few more weeks of regular exercise, and i’ll give these a go to reward myself.
    as for the writing: it’s too bad that deadlines can so easily do that: make you feel like somehow you failed before you even started, and make you feel so anxious that you lose touch with why you’re doing it. i have great faith that you’ll conquer the funk; you always do.:)

    1. Shannon, these truffles are stupid good. I can’t wait for you to try them. I also have big plans to try a peanut butter version, and maybe a vanilla-cranberry-spice one. We’ll see what I come up with.
      And thanks for the encouragement! I’m already feeling better after airing out the feelings of funkiness.

  2. This speaks to me – I’m entrenched in a couple of writing projects now, and I’m feeling detached and weirdly pressured by imaginary deadlines. That’s right, IMAGINARY deadlines. So I’m just sort of ploughing through. And as a result, my writing doesn’t even sound like MY WRITING!

    Is it possible that I just need some truffles?

    1. movita, it seems very possible you are suffering from truffle deficiency. I recommend a swift remedy. And then also, I can offer my take on what I’m trying to do, and that’s to take a break. I think you’ve got a leg up since you’re working on multiple projects, but I’m resolving to leg go of the (you’re right, totally imaginary) deadlines and working on other stuff for a few months. The book will be there when I get back, and I’ll feel fresh and rested and the writing won’t suck so bad (theoretically).

  3. I feel the same way a LOT about writing. I will be planning or actually writing something I am convinced is high quality, but I just won’t have the ooomph to keep at it as I should.

    The only solution I’ve ever found is diving into something so weird – and for which i don’t know the ending myself! – that I can’t stop. Merely being high quality writing has never been enough.

  4. Oh my dear, what can I say but I FEEL YOU?? And I support you.

    Do you know what Tom Wolfe said about writing Bonfire of the Vanities? “For eight months I had sat at my typewriter every day, intending to start this novel and nothing had happened.”

    And then it happens, I guess?

    1. Good gracious, I hope so! I’m always happy to hear that famous big shot writers have the same difficulties I do. Because I’m selfish and want everyone to suffer. Or solidarity, or whatever. 🙂

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