Without question, this book manuscript has been the most challenging thing I have ever done. Ever.
I remember leaving my old job desperate for a project that would push me and presently, I see my prayers answered about tenfold. I've watched my self, my marriage, and both mine and Hugh's work grow and improve these past ten months. I'm not even out of the woods yet, and I am filled with emotions over what an experience this has been so far.
I've studied dozens of cookbooks, poured over the photography, the writing style, and how they are composed overall. It seemed simple enough, given ample time, to make a collection of how I cook during the week, for friends, and for family on occasion. It's never fancy, typically on the lighter side, produce focused, and now, because of Hugh's influence, a second thought is given to the aesthetics of the plate. At the start, I imagined I would cook and write and just transcribe what I know. Turns out there is more to it. We seem to have learned the hard way - learned by doing, actually. We're currently going back to the first few recipes written and pictures taken and bringing them on par with where we are now (we haven't "figured it out", but the big picture is looking less nebulous than it did in January). Improvement or not, I have to be honest with you lovely people, those of you who have so kindly encouraged me, and convinced me that I AM capable of this. It is extremely difficult to explain a process that is creative and spontaneous for me, and treat it as something concrete and specific. I want to share this with people, but a list of directions seems cold compared to how I feel about simple, wholesome food. This is my art. The books I've admired, and thought I could use as reference, became useless when I realized how personal writing a cookbook is.
When I consider the permanence of print, the self doubt becomes sort of paralyzing. We crave affirmation, and by we I do mean all of us, but females especially. We crave for people to tell us that they like us, that we are good at something. A 'regular' job, if you will, usually consists of someone above you setting a standard and giving direction day in and day out, while you also have others around you with constant feedback. It is really nice to work at home is stretchy yoga pants, but I miss that. Maybe I love the braised white bean recipe in the book, but what if other people don't like them? Gasp! Then what?? Hugh assured me this is the demon of a creative person (something I actually never considered myself, to be honest), that we set a high standard, a great expectation for our work, but the means to reach or even exceed that standard is always a challenge. I must rest in the fact that it is simply not possible to please everyone. It's not possible to make a book full of recipes that everyone will like and that is going to be alright. I knew going into this that the project was bigger than what I felt capable of, and I still feel that way, but participating would be the only way I would grow. I wanted to be pushed, but that doesn't mean I have not had a considerable amount of breakdowns.
I'm about a week away from turning in a gigantic word document and already feel the weight of responsibility lifting from me. Not in the sense that it is being passed to someone else, but that I know I have done my best and at this point, my art is making its way out there.
These are not thoughts of complaint, believe me, I am grateful. I am merely trying to write the fear out of my head.
Ah. Deep breaths.
I don't have a recipe for you, seriously, I can not talk about food for awhile, but I wanted to include just a few pictures from my phone of the mess and process we've been up to. Sidenote, that baby is not ours, she is our niece, and we are trying to kidnap her.