Something happened. Well, a lot of things, and today I’m going to tell you about them. I’ve been wanting to get back here for a while, always hoping I’d stumble across the words one day and find just the right recipe and poetry pairings to share. I wanted to return to how things used to be. But I can’t go on pretending that will happen. Oh, I’ll be back here alright, but there’s no sense in ignoring that eight months have gone by since my last blog post, and we can just jump right back in without explanation. Some people might be able to work that way, but it’s harder for me. As it turns out, I’ve been writing quite a lot lately, just not here.
After Eat This Poem was published in 2017, I spent about six months promoting the book. I was traveling to events, giving bookstore readings, doing interviews, writing guest posts, and blogging, all in an effort to share the news about this wonderful little project I’d put so much time and effort into. By the end of the year, I was tired, and I was also starting to think about my second book. From June to October—while I was on book tour for Eat This Poem—I was quietly working on a new proposal, and my agent was pitching it to publishers. In December of that year, I had a contract and was poised to do this all over again.
The book isn’t about food. It’s about the writer’s life. Specifically, how to go about making space to create when you also have a job and a family. It’s basically everything I’ve learned in the last fifteen years since graduating from college, packaged up in digestible and relatable stories and lessons and insights. It’s about ushering in creative seasons, and using them to frame how you work.
But along the way, I lost my appetite. Because I was writing a book about writing, and also working full-time, and also mothering a toddler, food was one of the first things to go. Don’t get me wrong, we still ate well. Years of cooking and recipe development weren’t all for nothing—I could walk in the door at 5:30 p.m. and have dinner on the table thirty minutes later. I still meal planned, and we always had a full fridge. But sometimes we just ate avocado toast for dinner. Or popcorn. And my appetite for newness had disappeared. It was a defense mechanism, really. In the midst of writing another book, which took up the majority of what little extra time I had in a week, I didn’t have the capacity to read cookbooks cover to cover, or follow new recipes on a Tuesday night, or brainstorm new blog posts for this space, or read my beloved food magazines.
For about nine months we subsisted on a simple rotation of recipes I could make in my sleep: rice and beans, quick curry and rice, all kinds of pasta, and big salads. Sometimes on a weekend, there would be more. We’d walk to the farmers’ market and I’d suddenly be overcome with a deep craving for eggplant or peppers, or come home with a giant watermelon and make agua fresca. Sometimes there would be flashes of inspiration, reminders of the cook I used to be. But those moments were rare. I missed it here, but I had my sights on finishing something and needed to set those feelings aside temporarily.
Not that it was always an easy road, though. One day I was so frustrated about not having time to make bread, I almost cried about it. So I included the story in my new book because, well, it’s a book about writing a book, and that was my truth. In that moment I had to choose writing over baking bread and literally could not fit both into my weekend without sacrificing my health or my sanity. It’s just the season I was living in.
So I kept writing and writing and writing. Eventually there were a few paragraphs and a few chapters and an entire messy manuscript to clean up. Then there was a book. It was turned in, copy edited, marked up, polished, read again and again, and turned in once more. There is no going back. It’s out of my hand and will soon be in yours.
I now have space where there wasn’t before. There’s a new table, new light, new ingredients, new hungers.
Oh, and we moved. Not across town, but across the country. I’m no longer a resident of Los Angeles, but have left my home state and settled outside Raleigh, North Carolina. This was a big change and we arrived in our empty new house a few weeks before Christmas last year, enjoyed our first snow (two days after moving in), and spent the winter unpacking, becoming familiar, settling, creating new routines, and getting comfortable. It was cold and invigorating and also hard. But we’re glad we’re here.
This move, this life, was something we started thinking about almost four years ago. We weren’t imagining a particular place, but a feeling and a way of life we were after. Turns out, North Carolina offered it to us. Now that it’s spring, I’m feeling an itch to welcome the new. I’m finally able to turn my attention to things I’ve missed, like food and poetry, and figure out how to make my way back.
I’m deeply grateful for the space to do this. Not only the mental space, but the physical change of scenery that’s been opening up new creativity stores for me. (Case and point: I’ve started writing poetry again!) I don’t have a plan for Eat This Poem, nothing formal at least. (I also have a new online home in Wild Words, about seasonal creative living, if you’re inclined in that direction.) My hope is to inch my way over, sharing some poetry, some thoughts, some recipes, all from a new vantage point.
That’s about it for now. If you’re new, I’m glad you’re here. And if you’re a long-time reader, I’m glad you’re still here. If I’ve learned anything in the past year, it’s the importance of embracing the season you’re in. That’s always my wish for you and for me.