Not Afraid of New

Been baking, been baking!

And writing…

As a writer, my most awesome adversary is fear. Do I really want to know that character’s deepest secrets? Do I want to reveal so much of myself through my words? What if I spend my whole adult life pursuing this career and end up being a dud? Fear. It’s the root of writer’s block. Fear. It’s what makes me stop writing mid-thought and head to the kitchen for potato chips.

Having been a gymnast as a young girl, each day I was challenged to try new tricks. I was asked to become stronger, more flexible, faster and more daring. In general, the entirety of a¬†child’s life is built on learning and having to master new trick after new trick. Dressing themselves. Tying shoes. Learning to swim, and read, and make friends, and share, and brush their teeth until they gleam.

I’m not a child anymore; my life has steadied, and is full of routine. The learning curve has dipped… I’m even forgetting things! We’ve lived in the same house for over ten years. We send the kids off to school with the same peanut butter sandwiches. I struggle with the same vices over and over again–against impatience, against anger, against being sluggish and selfish. And I’m noticing that the older I get, the more fearful I become.

I see this in myself, and it has turned me more toward prayer, but it has also brought about a desire for being child-like again, for being vulnerable and willing to tackle something new. And as I try new things, I know my kids are watching.

Here are a few simple things that I’ve been up to…

Jalapeno bread. The other day I chopped up some spicy peppers and tossed them into the mix. Super spicy. I’ll be making this mix again when cheese is back on the menu!

French corners. I recently pulled out the sewing machine and taught myself how to make a version of French corners. Took three napkins till I’d figured it out, but now I know!

Japanese bags. I recently purchased some fabric and a crafting book from a Japanese company, to help in that country’s recovery . I love the little book, which has patterns for bags and book covers and blankets. Problem is, the headings are in English, but the text is in Japanese! I went for it anyway, admiring all those foreign characters, trying to match the photographs and pattern drawings.

Giving in the spirit of forgiveness. I’m still in the middle of this new experiment and have had only one success. But there are 17 days left until Pascha; time is on my side.

What about you? What sorts of new things have you either talked about learning or are currently trying? Knitting? Planting a garden? Surfing, sailing, skateboarding? Playing the harmonica?

I’d love to know!


Baking… Books

Two loaves of French bread

Mixed: 2:45 pm

Molded: 5:15 pm

Baked: 6 pm

Gave extra loaf to Glenn

It’s hard to choose my favorite part of the bread baking process. Like writing, there are parts of the process that are prayerful, parts that require patience, and other parts that get you jumping up and down. I love how bread baking and the writer’s life match up in so many ways…

  • Assemble the ingredients, flour, water, salt and yeast=Research and write your rough draft–let the ingredients–and writing–fly all over the kitchen, and don’t worry about the mess!
  • Knead the dough until its silky smooth=Massage the story, play with the words–this is a prayerful time for me, both while kneading and while editing.
  • Let the dough rise=Walk away from the story and let it sit and ferment. This requires patience and a sense of moving on to another task for some portion of time.
  • Mold the dough into its final shape=Edit. I love editing. This part of writing involves finding¬† just the right shape for a written piece, and refining the individual words…
  • Bake=Give your work to others to critique. Put it to the fire test, to the heat of the oven and allow the criticism to bake out all the impurities of your writing!
  • Eat it–or better yet, give that bread away!=Send out your work. Let others read it and be blessed, or simply say it’s done and tuck it away. But always move on to the next project. If it ends up being published, then that’s just the icing on the… bread!

Today an interview on my writing life has been posted on the Examiner.com, which is an online news service that has more than 7 million readers. I’m humbled that I was asked to do the interview, and another interview, on the topic of this bread blog, will be featured next week. Here’s the link to the interview.

Sending you blessings and love… as I bake, and write…