I recently, well 33 days ago, signed up for a creative workshop that asks that you ship something every day for 100 days.
It’s hard. I am a “do it when the muse shows up” creative. And, this course teaches you to accept creativity as a career — a position where people expect you to show up and do the work.
Prompts remind you that people who have creative careers submit below average work as often as they submit just good enough work — and rarely submit creative genius. And the prompts posit that hope, that plane-is-delayed-painstaking-waiting-hope, for the creative genius to show up is what keeps us comfortably sitting in that mythical land of writer’s block.
I don’t write a story every day, but I am sure to make an observation. Sometimes that observation includes photography (like the cherry toms and burrata). My genre is creative non-fiction. Here is a compilation of a few of those observations (your thoughts in the comments will be welcomed).
I pull open the door, without recalling that it’s weighted with jams, chutneys and quickles. The energy of my pull slams the door against the wall with a big thud and subsequent clinking of jars.
It’s Friday. Farmers’ Market day.
And fridge cleaning day.
For the millionth time, I check the temperature, and it’s still set to as low as it will go. I shake my fist, as if my landlord above our suite can see me. This fridge, from brand new, has always been too cold for fragile veggies. I sigh.
I yell over the jammy beat of the Grateful Dead, “Honey. I think a refrigerator risotto will clean this out! Can you do the prep while I go to market?”
“Fennel. Carrots. Zucchini. Fava beans. Garlic. Patty Pans. Beets. Roasted…on risotto. How’s that sound?”
I rip open the bag. The dirt-laden pickling cucumbers present a distinct earthy smell that reminds me that it’s August. I carefully weigh six and a half pounds. A wave forms as I dump the cucumbers into an enormous bowl full of crystal-clear water.
I’m drenched. I go to the drying rack and grab a fresh shirt.
I return to the kitchen to find emerald green oblongs floating in murky brown water. I’m mindful, as I drain the swamp – so as not to need another shirt. I guide the spray hose and jiggle the bowl full of soon-to-be pickles. The force of the tap dislodges most of the brown wilted blossoms from which these little delights grew.
As the stainless basin once again fills to the brim, the brown feathery blobs float to the top – and with an odd sense of wonder I think about how long it’s been since the flowers perished.
The room fills with light, and a small rumble follows.
My husband snores next to me. I consider waking him to watch the light show, and help calm my nerves. Instead I watch alone, and wonder how many forest fires we can expect from this rainless lightning storm.
I can’t sleep, so I open social media and people are posting images and videos of massive lightning rods that reach to the horizon. Exactly the kind of lightning that starts forest fires, I muse. It takes time, but I fall asleep.
I hadn’t checked the wildfire map even once this summer. It’s been cool and rainier than the last 5 years. The moment I hear the espresso machine, I grab my phone. More than 100 new fires dot the map with the likelihood of more remote fires still to be identified.
Ten new fires in the farming town just 30 kms north are noted. Each fire, according to the elevation lines, is well into the mountains, and still, it is nerve wracking.
Rain is expected in the days to come, but I hope farming can continue with the suppressive smoke that is reportedly filling the valley floor. I think about how they will maintain their livelihoods should another state of emergency befall the farmers’ work of feeding their communities. The prospects look grim.
Thanks for reading. Is there something you’ve been doing in fits and starts that could use a 100 day push? Share in the comments below – I’d love to know.
First, may I say, this photograph is exquisite. Secondly, THANK YOU for sharing this. I love these little micro portraits. I love the dryness of your humour (to match the wetness of the shirt.) I love the way this is antidote to food porn. Food is central, but it’s relational. It’s not fetishised, it’s not photoshopped to be some weird avatar of food. I love this nudge to making things happen, creatively, and in the kitchen. Work with what you have. Make small gains. Partner and I have been talking about how we need a better recipe book system for… oh, about 10 years. He can’t read my writing. I’m too busy to type up transcribe recipe cards. Finally, instead of moaning about it and feeling overwhelmed, this week, at the end of a meal that was a keeper, he’ll type up that one recipe. And email to me. And I’m slowly compiling into a word document, that we’ll eventually print out. It was like a total brain explosion when we realized if we just do this everyday, we’ll have a 300 + page recipe collection after a year. One recipe takes about 5 minutes to type up. One observation takes what? 20 minutes to write down? What a beautiful way to track our days, to slow build a body of work. What a lovely practice. Thanks for the nudge. I love this idea so much, as someone who is always trying to make things bigger than they are. How about making them smaller instead?
Brilliant. And would love to see this 300+ page recipe collection once organized.