I’ve been having trouble blogging. It’s no mystery that my blog posts have been infrequent (that may be a generous way of putting it) over the past several months. My food life has been decidedly less exciting – not quite sexy enough to put on a food blog, or at least a food blog as I have always understood it. My reading life keeps me absorbed, and I’m deep in the world of my novel, pounding out pages.
And yet, I miss this blog. I feel similar to George Bailey on It’s a Wonderful Life, wishing merry Christmas to all the places that had grown so fuzzy and beige to him – the movie house. The emporium. “Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!”
Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Whisks & Words.
And yet. Every time I’ve sat down to blog, I’ve felt stalled out and incapable of writing. It’s one thing to draft my novel, where I’m the only one who sees it. But to add my voice to the world right now feels canned and odd and naive. The news is so bad. Every day, in some new way, the news is bad. How can I talk about books and cookies when death and destruction abound? When it’s right there, waiting for me. What can I possibly say?
I talked about this with a friend at coffee this morning when she expressed the same sadness, the same frustration. A sense of helplessness coupled with a sense of loss and grief, and add to all of that, the need to go on. For her, to be merry and bright for her children, who are innocents. For me, to do the work, my work. There must be ways to move on.
Writing content for the Internet is weird in this way; in so many respects, a blog is like an online journal, where we can keep things simple. But then, there’s this pressure to be somebody, to brand yourself and to say something – something worthwhile, to say something that Matters, and I’m not sure I can. Maybe cookies is all I have. Maybe this simple blog is where I can take my shelter and comfort. Maybe it’s where I can share cookies with everyone else who may be feeling as stilted and saddened as I am.
I’ve posted before about Forgotten Cookies, and I made them again the other night, at Amanda’s request. They’ve become one of her favorite holiday treats, and what can I say? Happy wife, happy life.
The “magic” of Forgotten Cookies is that, after dinner, you do the work. You take a chilled bowl and chilled beaters, and you whip two egg whites with sugar and a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form and the batter becomes glossy. Fold in almond extract, vanilla extract, chopped pecans, and semisweet chocolate chips. Spoon them onto a foil-lined sheet and put that sheet in a 350° oven, and then turn the oven OFF, and “forget” about them for the night.
I did this on Monday night, after I spent the morning writing my butt off, after I spent the afternoon prepping vegetables for the week ahead. I stood over the sink, licking the batter off the whisk, selfishly taking every marshmallowy bit. And in the morning, while I manned the toaster oven for toast, and Amanda manned the coffee maker for coffee, she asked, “Are you going to check the cookies?”
This is code for “take the cookies out of the oven so I can eat them.”
They were delicious – it’s an old recipe that I can rely on, one handed down to me from my mother, written in her handwriting in my family recipe book.
I was thinking, though, of that idea of “forgetting” the cookies. Because, of course, they’re all but forgotten. They’re in the oven, working on becoming finished cookies, even though I’m not watching them, and the oven is off, and the dishes are cleaned, and in fact, I’ll slumber through much of the process. And it occurred to me how very much this process is like writing.
I’m in what we’ll call the third draft of my book. I’ve been working a little over two years on this beast, and I marvel at how many times I’ve had to take breaks – to get married, to move cross-country, to travel, to deal with holidays. To welcome my honey home from mini-deployments. And every time, I panic. I’ll forget how to write, I’ll lose my steam, I’ll get fuzzy on my goals, I’ll fail fail fail.
But the thing is, I don’t. I remember how to write. I get the steam again. Somehow, while I’m away from my work, out in the world, talking and living and traveling and generally being human, the work continues. The book is in my brain, working on becoming a finished novel, even though I’m not watching it, and my computer is stashed away, and my mind is on other things.
It’s the same with this blog. I “forget” how much I need it, how much it can be a sanctuary from the storm, rather than a big screen on which to relive it. And in that way, maybe the cookies and the books and the cats and the writing have a place after all.