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In my better moments

About three weeks ago, I printed out all the drafts I’ve written so far for my next book, and then I spent three weeks avoiding reading them.

I finally got up the courage on Sunday night. I poured myself a beer, sat down at the dining room table, and read through all of it. Afterward, I wanted to stab myself in the eye. But that didn’t seem like it would make the manuscript any better, so I went to bed.

I woke up at five the next morning. While I lay there in the dark, thinking about the injustice of being awake at such an hour on my day off, I remembered how rough and horrible my drafts were, and then I started thinking about that instead, and then I started sweating. I finally got out of bed at 6:45, put on my bathrobe, sat down at my desk, and started to write. My drafts are still rough and horrible, and they will be for a while, until I know what to do with them. But for as long as I sat at my desk, I felt better. When I’m writing, when my fingers are moving over the keys and words are marching across the screen, I don’t worry. Physically, I can’t worry; there’s no space for it in my head. I wish I could remember that more easily, so that I could choose to write first, rather than worry.


Then again, I won’t really have to remember, because I’ll be sitting at that desk for the majority of my waking hours between now and March 1, when my manuscript is due. I’m terrified. And, in my better moments, excited.

When I’m writing a lot, I like to read about writing. It makes me feel less crazy. Lately, I’ve been reading Stephen King’s On Writing, which I think one of you may have recommended to me? In any case, this passage on page 153 nails it.

Once I start work on a project, I don’t stop and I don’t slow down unless I absolutely have to. If I don’t write every day, the characters begin to stale off in my mind – they begin to seem like characters instead of real people. The tale’s narrative cutting edge starts to rust and I begin to lose my hold on the story’s plot and pace. Worst of all, the excitement of spinning something new begins to fade. The work starts to feel like work, and for most writers that is the smooch of death. . . .

I used to tell interviewers that I wrote every day except for Christmas, the Fourth of July, and my birthday. That was a lie. I told them that because if you agree to an interview you have to say something, and it plays better if it’s something at least half-clever. Also, I didn’t want to sound like a workaholic dweeb (just a workaholic, I guess). The truth is that when I’m writing, I write every day, workaholic dweeb or not. That includes Christmas, the Fourth, and my birthday (at my age you try to ignore your goddam birthday anyway). And when I’m not working, I’m not working at all, although during those periods of full stop I usually feel at loose ends with myself and have trouble sleeping. For me, not working is the real work.

Hi from here.


Blogger Joanna said...

This comment has nothing to do with writing, though that is all true and wise and worth commenting on. Instead, I just want to say how lovely cabbage leaves in a yellow tub look...

12:52 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Ruth said...

I love the honesty you write with. And I'm glad you're working on the book - I look forward to reading it. Keep going - it will be famtastic in the end!

1:13 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous janet clare said...

Hello from here (England) to you!

I teach textiles and am often telling my people to 'quickly get something, anything in the real world'- then we have something to work with.

1:28 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Christine said...

I'm working on my dissertation, so I get your fear of your drafts and how you really do have to convince yourself to get started even though you know that it's *always* better once you're actually working and not avoiding it.

It's a painful process all around.

2:03 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous lauren@spicedplate said...

"For me, not working is the real work.
" -- Yes, I understand what you mean. I work with a group of unschoolers, and it's amazing what they have learned on their own, compared to when they were "working" in school...although you're not talking about the same sort of thing, it reminded me of that.

Keep writing. Everything here is always so honest and true. I think that's what makes me enjoy your blog and your other book -- the openness. Keep that.

2:15 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger hannahalehandra said...

Oh molly, that passage is fabulous. Keep on at it! Once the inertia of writing disapears, like you said, you can just get on with it. Much love.


3:02 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Michelle Box said...

love your photos and your writing.

3:09 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Molly, we are all our own worst critics. I applaud you for all that you've accomplished and am here to tell you... you are an amazingly gifted writer. I know the process will work itself out for the best. Can't wait to hear more about it. Thank you for sharing, even the scary parts.

3:46 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Gary Phillips said...

When I have to do work, I find it hard to get started. Especially when I'm writing for my blog. But once I get rolling, everything's usually fine.
Great photos :)

3:55 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger W said...

Your writing is "the" reason i read your blog, over and over again. I think you could write an excellent book for bloggers... Best of luck for your new book.

3:58 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous A Plum By Any Other Name said...

Here's the thing. In that tiny crevice, in the back corners of your mind (where the cobwebs are), you know you'll get there. A work is never "done," at some point it just becomes finished. The self loathing is just a little loud right now. (Or perhaps that's just me when I write. Anyone?!)

I love when you post about writing as much as I do when you post about food. As Ms. Lamott would say, turn radio station KFKD down.

4:33 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's tough being a writer -- hang in there. I like the photo of the yellow tub filled with savoy cabbage....

4:44 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Jess said...

Yep. xo.

4:55 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Lauren said...

Hi from here too. I love that last line..."for me, not working is the real work."

Yes. Just that.

4:57 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Patrice said...

Interesting that you are quoting writing advice from Stephen King. Next, maybe he will be writing a horror story about a food blogger! Seriously, we all know this new project will be GREAT! And it will all come together. We are all in this with you! Now stop reading and get back to writing.

5:03 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger shari said...

hi molly,

your book is going to be great! i believe in you. i've been working on a short story for ages and you're right...no room to worry when you are actually sitting and writing. best of luck to you as you finish up your manuscript. you can do it! xox

5:08 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Kellie @ Blackboard Kitchen said...

I wish I could do everything first without worrying. It's funny how people give us advice and say "don't worry." Worrying doesn't fix anything, and we obviously all know this, but it's like a little piece of us that we aren't able to shut off, especially on the days off at 5 am. For me, when the worrying takes over, there's nothing to do except to DO, to get to work and not stop working until I've figured something out for the time being. You'll figure it out. We're all rooting for you. And I love that photo of the fog in the trees. Peaceful.

5:26 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Heidi said...

Molly, your writing is your truest gift. The finished work will be wonderful, it cannot help but be so. Like all creative people, you're hearing the annoying inner critic whisper in your ear. Sometimes you just have to tell it to shut up and go away!

5:26 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Diane said...

Hi Molly -- Got the quote below from http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2006/0130/031.html --on The Rhino Principle:

"...when I hear of an author who cannot finish or get started on a book, I send him (or her) a rhino card. I paint a watercolor of a rhinoceros on the front of a postcard--something I do well, as I've practiced it a great many times. And in the space next to the address I write: "Stop fussing about that book. Just charge it. Keep on charging it until it is finished. That's what the rhino does. Put this card over your desk and remember the Rhino Principle."

Also, when you finish reading Stephen King's book, if you haven't read The Paris Wife yet, it's pretty good and gets into the writing of Ernest Hemingway. Good luck with your book!

5:27 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Shim Farm said...

Hi from here, too. Everything will be just fine. I've read and re-read and re-read A Homemade Life and it makes me laugh and cry and salivate every time, and not necessarily in that order. Keep the words coming. I'll be waiting.

5:55 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Laurel said...

Thank you for sharing. Sometimes I read thing I write and think 'That's pretty good!' Other times....well, it's not good. I also love your beautiful foggy pictures. They are inspiring.

5:56 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Dizzy Lizzie said...

Wow! To have the privilege of discovering the one think that seems like work when not doing it... that's the greatest blessing. I hope I find that elusive thing someday!

5:56 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger vwc said...

Don't worry about it...Write what you feel...That is what works :)

5:59 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Margaret said...

Brava. I like to read about writing too, but not now, when I'm actually in my own first rough-and-horrible stage. It's all about tunnel vision, kindness, and persistence. Take comfort in your legions of adoring fans, Molly! We know you've got it in ya! :-)

6:27 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Alicia said...

it will get better! I loved your first book and can't wait for the second.

6:33 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Heather said...

I think you're awesome! You can do it!

And I love "On Writing"

6:42 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Abby said...

writing is both agony and pleasure. On Writing is a great companion. hello from a new reader, by the way.

6:44 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous rach | buttons magee said...

molly, just reading this made me want to sit down and write. you really are an inspiration. xo, rachsilin

7:17 AM, December 15, 2011  
OpenID windycityvegan said...

Hang in there! At least you have drafts to edit, and haven't been plagued with writer's block, right?

Stephen King's On Writing is my favorite book on the craft. I also really like the book Writing Down the Bones - can't remember who wrote it, though.

7:23 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Torrie said...

Beautifully written (you & he), and incredibly inspiring- in so many ways. (needed that this morning... thank you)... & good luck =).

7:30 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Alison said...

It's a funny thing, this writing business, especially in this era of instant feedback. Your comment about wanting to stab yourself in the eye made me crack up (no mean feat at 7:30 a.m. with not enough coffee and kids to get to school) and,since instant feedback is available (though sadly not when you were up worrying in the wee hours), here's an affirmation: In your better moments you've written a book and countless blog entries that have touched many people. You have that capacity within you and you will surely do so again. You probably know this, but don't stress over a perfect draft. Write, as you always do, from your heart. That's what your readers love and it is what you do best.

7:32 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Steph said...

Beautiful words and photos, stick with it - can't wait to read the new book!

7:33 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Jenn said...

Good Luck and Happy Holidays!

7:35 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Judi said...

I read this when I should've been writing. Guess it's time to go back to work. Thanks, Molly. :)

7:37 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Worry is like rocking in a rocking chair - it give you something to do, but it doesn't get you very far. I have faith in your wonderful writing skills. I hope you come to believe in them, too.

7:51 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Rebecca said...

My husband (a very good and quite successful screenwriter) once walked in on me having a freak out about how bad my writing was. He went away and came back five minutes later with a piece of paper that he taped up opposite my desk. It says:


And every time I freak out, I look at that and it eases the self-imposed pressure. <3

8:04 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger E2 said...

Yes, please remember. And also, might I suggest - also remember to breathe. Breathing in can help tremendously.

8:18 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Rachel said...

I love this post, and find you incredibly inspiring. I bought and LOVED your first book and wait very impatiently for the next one which I'm sure will be just as amazing!

8:40 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous art and lemons said...

Molly, I seem to be going through a similar writing phase (minus the book deadline). Steven King's On Writing is one of my faves. Have you read Brenda Ueland's book "If You Want to Write"? I've been toting it everywhere I go lately so when I have one of those I'm never going to write another sentence worth the ink on the page, I read this:

"A practical friend of mine, a careful planner said to me when I told him this book (which I have thought about for so long) must be written and finished by a certain time:

"Have planned the book? Have you got your outline firmly in mind" and thereby made a coldness come around my heart, and I suffered several minutes of panic, the most intense anxiety.

But I said:

"No! Of course I haven't planned it. I wouldn't think of planning it."

For when you begin to plan such a huge edifice of words, your heart fails you. It is too hard, it will never get done, it is too complex and frightful. No, write what comes to you now. More will come later. The river will begin to flow through you.

Sorry that was really long! But, I wanted to say that you're a terrific writer and you'll get through this. It's just words on a page after all, words that spill one after the other into a bit of chaos to be sorted through later. Write now, plan later. Shitty first drafts become a thing of beauty...

8:42 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Morgan Brothers said...


If it's any consolation, I JUST finished A Homemade Life after reading your blog for years (shame on me), and it's perfect. Perfectly you, perfectly Orangette, perfectly honest. So, unless you've lost some part of yourself along the way, this new project should invariably follow suit. Even improve on the lovely work you already do. Full speed ahead... we're on pins and needles for what's next from you!


8:42 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger tangled sky studio said...

Ann Lamott's book Bird by Bird is a must read for any writer (but of course you probably know this). Your post immediately brought to mind the chapter titled "shitty first drafts"....

8:42 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger nomadshan said...

Early drafts are meant to be crap. Well, they're meant to allow you to throw spaghetti strands at the wall and see what sticks, so the resulting mess often looks terrible. Embrace revision -- that's when you can put text where it should be, make meaningful connections, polish your word choices, and ditch the rest. Best of luck!

8:46 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Shivery McPickles said...

Any time I sit down to write anything I basically feel like a fraud that will be exposed at any moment. I suspect that you and I are not alone.

8:49 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger powderate said...

This is what I love about you Molly - your ability to share personal anecdotes in your writing process accompanied by images close to you - these elements make you very readable and for us gongoozlers who may drool over your eloquence with prose it keeps us coming back.

Wishing you a wonderful time writing your book. cheers LA.

8:50 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Cheryl said...

Molly, I'm always very intimidated by the number of comments here, so I rarely leave one of my own. But as someone who has been avoiding working on a new project since I turned in the old one (a really long time ago), I think you've just inspired me to let go of the fear, clear off the disaster that is my desk, and give myself fully, and finally, to the act of creating something new.

Thank you.

8:56 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger A Day That is Dessert said...

Hi. xoxo

8:56 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Kate @ Savour Fare said...

I just picked up your last book this weekend to dip in and reread. It's lovely. This book will be too.

9:16 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger mosey (kim) said...

I love On Writing - it's just one of the best books on that subject for me. That quote is exactly what I needed to hear because I've been starting and stopping and getting nothing finished. Head down, go. Good luck with your forward momentum!

9:20 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Karen said...

Hi from here too. Your writing is always so inspirational so thank you for sharing another wonderful post.

9:41 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Jacqueline said...

Hey Molly,
Keep it up!! I have supreme faith in you. Also, as Anne Lamott says in Bird By Bird, shitty first drafts are an essential part of writing. There is no way to avoid them, and they are necessary to get where you're going.

Cheering for you, as always.

9:46 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Susan said...

Thank you !! Beautiful post -

9:50 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Judy said...

My husband is a physics professor. He had a Ph.D. student one time who just couldn't seem to finish his dissertation. He was especially stuck on chapter 2. Finally my husband told him to call it chapter 4! It seemed to help. Good writing!

9:56 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Molly you know that you have a gift and keep giving it which is wonderful. Let it be wonderful for you too. You have already published a book. You have a fabulous blog and restaurant. Your eye at photography is natural and flowing. Just give yourself to this new book like yielding to a lover. You'll find that the lover returns your passion and essence. Keep it simple and pure and natural. Those are your virtues. Trust them. Thank you for sharing your beauty with us.

10:00 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood said...

Everyone feels that way about their first drafts. I've written a mini-library of articles and books, both print and the culinary school line of ebooks (Culinary School: The Cookbook - http://amzn.to/r63N4N, Culinary School: The 164 Best Cooking Tips and Tricks - http://amzn.to/sa268T , etc.) and I've long since learned to trust the process. It works. Trust me.

10:00 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Leah D. said...

So timely, in light of some writer's block I've discovered myself in. Consistency. Don't avoid the words no matter how rough around the edges they may tumble out. Thanks for sharing this Molly!

10:06 AM, December 15, 2011  
OpenID lizlemonnights said...

Stephen King is my boyfriend's favorite author. I think you have just found the perfect stocking stuffer for him, thank you. Also, I am absolutely looking forward to your book! You can do it, I know it!

10:08 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Thinking of the days said...

Everyone has been so encouraging Molly....and I'm sending you positive vibes too.

But pressure (self induced and deadline pressure) can make anyone worry.You're probably knackered form the business of the restaurant too...and all the displacement activity .
Writing is like revision...you know it's got to be done but you find yourself cleaning wardrobes and other daft things you don't really want to do either just to delay the moment when you know you have to dowhat needs to be done.

How do I know this? Because.....I'm doing it too!

10:08 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Lorene Edwards Forkner said...

OMG... been there, stabbed/sweated that! In the comforting words of Ann Lamott: Shitty first draft, my friend. Shitty first draft...

10:11 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Marcia said...

I used to teach writing and always told my students that, like it or not, struggling is simply a part of learning and improving. Typically, nothing worth having comes without it, in writing or in life. Sounds like you're living that reality right now. Hang in there-- you'll make it!

On another note, I just love the photo of your dog. Beautiful.

10:31 AM, December 15, 2011  
OpenID carlyloves.com said...

I'm working on my masters thesis right now and I have similar moments of panic and displeasure. And periods of procrastination and avoidance. It's awful and amazing at the same time, isn't it? I'm wishing you the best of luck with this book. I can't wait to read it! A Homemade Life recently got me out of a long reading dry spell (thanks!) so I'm eager for more of your work to savour.

10:37 AM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Kait said...

I have to agree with the other two posters on Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird - it was perhaps the best gift I have ever received, writer to writer (which became boyfriend to girlfriend shortly after, probably with a lot of credit given to that gift). I had been stuck for so long, and her words finally made me unstick myself. I probably re-read sections of it every few months. I'm so excited for your progress, Molly - you're inspiring, even when you aren't feeling inspired yourself.

10:51 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

it is helpful to me to feel that someone else has similar struggles in the creative process. I hope you find it helpful to know you are not alone.

P.S. I am looking forward to this book.

11:01 AM, December 15, 2011  
OpenID labuonaforchetta said...

One of my journalism professors in college once said "People who say they like writing are like people who say they like running: liars! No one likes writing, they like having written." I have to say, I kind of agree. :)

11:13 AM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Ana Sofia said...

It's terrible! The thing that's driving you crazy is the very thing you have to keep doing until you can get to the point where you enjoy the process again. Doubtless you'll get there though whether you believe it or not.

11:53 AM, December 15, 2011  
OpenID girlseeksplace said...

Mr King (and you) say it perfectly every single time. Thank you.

12:06 PM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Kasey said...

I just read and reread that quote three times. It's so brilliant and inspiring...You can do it, Molly.

12:21 PM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Kathryn at Good Life Road said...

So true the "loose ends" bit. My husband was the one that pointed it out about me. If I'm not writing at all something's not quite right. And you're absolutly right that when your worrying over a project about the best thing you can do for yourself is to just sit down and do the writing. xox

1:11 PM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Karin said...

Love that quote. And have fun with the writing. I am certain it will all turn out fabulous in the end. x

1:30 PM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous rodi said...

Thank you for this, Molly. I am in the middle end of working on my master's thesis, and you are so right: the dread of "should be writing" is much worse than the actual writing. I'm going to bookmark this post so I can go back to it in moments of despair.

And your book is due about the same time I should be turning in the final draft to my committee, so we should both feel some relief relatively soon. Thanks for all you do and say and write.

3:03 PM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Elissa said...

Do not stab yourself in the eye. Or anywhere else. You will prevail. For what it's worth, I think I threw up every morning for the first three months I was writing my book. Then it passed, like morning sickness.

Keep writing. Remember what Anne Lamott says: More will be revealed.

3:07 PM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger teryll said...

Keep on truckin'! You know we are so excited about book #2!!! YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!

4:03 PM, December 15, 2011  
OpenID gretchenhayhurst said...

I just want to say that I love the photo of your dog and that when your book comes out I'll buy it, no matter what. Loved the last one so I'm sure the next will be great too.

4:55 PM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Marilyn said...

What you really need to read is Annie Lamont and her comment in "Bird by Bird" - "Now, practically even better news than that of short assignments is the idea of shitty first drafts. All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts."

5:40 PM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous anita said...

Hi Molly,

I'm new to your blog but I just wanted to tell you that I picked up your first book at Powell's in the airport here in Portland, Oregon. I read it start to finish during my two hour flight. I was entranced with your stories...and I can't wait to get into the kitchen and try some of the recipes out. You inspired me to start writing again. So, thank you for that. And your next book? I can't wait. :)

6:45 PM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Ilke said...

I am going to quote my favorite fish, Molly:
Just keep swimming,just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming...

And you will get to the light :)

7:44 PM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Oana said...

Super cool Molly. You inspire and makes me feel a little less nuts. Thanks for that. I think I'll pick up that SK book ...

8:16 PM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Seda said...

I'm loving all the quotes on writing! Thank you for introducing me to Bird by Bird, that was so helpful. Here is another that shed some light for me.

From Henri Nouwen:

At times, writing becomes a real event.

It is a remarkable sensation to see ideas and words flowing so easily, as if they had always been there but had not been allowed expression.

Meanwhile, I become more and more aware that for me writing is a very powerful way of concentrating and of clarifying for myself many thoughts and feelings. Once I put my pen on paper and write for an hour or two, a real sense of peace and harmony comes to me.

Consequently, I feel much more willing and able to do little routine jobs. After a day without any writing and filled with only reading and manual work, I often have a general feeling of mental constipation and go to bed with the sense that I did not do what I should have done that day.

It is good to become aware of all this. This seems to help me to understand quite a few of my bad moods during the past few years.

8:42 PM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Anne Zimmerman said...

Amazing. I'm bookmarking this one!

8:59 PM, December 15, 2011  
Blogger Victoria said...

Whatever you feel you've written, indifferent or even bad, I can assure you that when you get past March 1st, I, along with many many others, will be waiting with our "buy" finger at the ready, to read your always wonderful, always entertaining, always genuine words. I have no doubt about that.

10:30 PM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous Suzie said...

What I love most about your writing is your honesty and vulnerability without being mushy-although you make my eyes leak every now and then...

11:06 PM, December 15, 2011  
Anonymous beth said...

I have been away for a while, and I have a whole pile of drafts to return to. I thought it would be good to have some space from them. One the one hand, returning to them feel more than a little daunting. On the other, it is nice to know how what I will be doing when I imagine the new year.

12:08 AM, December 16, 2011  
Anonymous Mel said...

Dear Molly, I think what is beautiful about your writing is the way you interpret people, light, food, circumstances, life... you always have exactly all that is needed for wonderful writing.

I hope the next weeks of intense writing are inspired and full of beautiful moments for you.

SO look forward to reading your next book!

1:11 AM, December 16, 2011  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Hi Molly, Next time you're inclined to pick up a writing book, consider The Tao of Writing: Imagine. Create. Flow. by Ralph Wahlstrom. When I was teaching a graduate-level writing course, I must have read 30 books about writing and it was the one I chose for my students. It taught me how to ensure I didn't try to do too much or too little in my writing. Good luck and thanks for sharing with us.

6:35 AM, December 16, 2011  
Blogger Laura said...

Oh, is that a rat terrier? Daisy, the RT, sez hi!

6:37 AM, December 16, 2011  
Blogger velvetspel said...

Good luck Molly! Looking forward to your next book... Also about cabbage... I tried the cream-braised cabbage recipe... delish! Thanks for sharing. (and thank you for emailing me Aunt Bill's recipe the other day!) Merry Christmas!

7:55 AM, December 16, 2011  
Anonymous Jennifer @ Raisin Questions said...

I am also reading a wonderful book on writing by a writer I have never read before, but who has completely enthralled me. "One Day I will Write About this Place" by Binyavanga Wainaina. I am about halfway through, and I see mirrored in his story exactly what you wrote, "choosing to write first." I will carry that message with me. Thanks!

8:14 AM, December 16, 2011  
Blogger the starving student said...

Don't worry, you'll get it done. If your blog is any indication your writing (and photography) skills are amazing. It will all work out :)

9:16 AM, December 16, 2011  
Blogger Brenda Sloan Stevens said...

Hard writing makes easy reading. We believe in you. You will finish the book and we will love it.

9:55 AM, December 16, 2011  
Anonymous mandy said...

Molly, I've just been writing about reading your own writing. The stab yourself in the eye moment happened to me this week too. It was so deflating. But, you're right that the best solution to this feeling is more writing. I posted this quote by Richard Bausch on my blog. It helped me through:

Here is how I mean it when I say that the doubt you feel is your talent: the whole feeling stems from having the ear in the first place to be able to tell when it isn’t singing as you want it to; it comes from hearing how far it is from the way you hope to make it sound. You can hear the difference because you have the talent, the ear. And, because the piece takes its slow sweet hard time getting right, you feel that fact as evidence that you can’t do it or won’t be able to do it; you look at the work of others, who also did it seventy-five times to get it right, and you can’t escape the sense that their smooth elegant lines are how it arrived the first time for them–whole cloth, as printed. So you turn that on yourself and start feeling it won’t ever be good enough, and the doubt sweeps in. Just do the day’s work. A little at a time. And then take yourself elsewhere in your life until the next day’s work.

I keep thinking: Just do the day's work.

Good luck soldiering on!


10:50 AM, December 16, 2011  
Anonymous Andrea G in Morgan Hill, CA said...

You actually aren't worrying - you are contemplating, thinking, hatching, editing -- all in the back of your mind, while feeling that you can't complete it. But obviously you can. You have done it before, and you can do it again; you just have to get through this blasted portion of the process. I have faith!

12:44 PM, December 16, 2011  
Blogger Diana vW said...

If you are ever inclined, a cruise ship with a lot of sea days in a row is the ideal place to write. A repositioning cruise is very reasonable. Great food and pampering and uninterrupted time with no clutter or obligations. My husband and I just finished a book between Portugal and Miami.

You inspire me!

3:34 PM, December 16, 2011  
Anonymous Lori said...

How wonderful and awful to be a writer -- Mr. King speaks truth. Good words to you.

3:59 PM, December 16, 2011  
Blogger Claudia said...

I'm rereading Bird by Bird being comforted by the permission to write "a shitty first draft." Sometimes that keeps me going. It also keeps me avoiding.

5:11 PM, December 16, 2011  
Anonymous janie said...

Okay, I am old enough to be your mom....so here goes:
I want you to just stop and think about the things you have done lately(say... in the last 3-5 years )......you have written a wonderful book, you have met, loved and married your darling partner and husband,Brandon!!!You have started a well written, well read and loved blog.....and you have, from scratch, opened and established a lovely , delicious restaurant..plus your travels,and your photo's!!!! So yes, of course, you can and will be successful in completing what you need to do for your second super wonderful great book!!!! Yea YOU!!!! I am telling you!!! So get busy...no pressure!! Tee-hee!!! and HUGS!!!

7:07 PM, December 16, 2011  
Anonymous Daryl Willmott said...

I just finished A Homemade Life, it just finished. I turned the page and there was the index. Dam I could have read that book forever. Brandon you lucky son of a snake charmer ,next life I'm coming back in your family

7:22 PM, December 16, 2011  
Blogger C Boake said...

Sweetie, you need to take a breath. Have you ever read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. She a has a great rift on "Shitty First Drafts."

7:32 PM, December 16, 2011  
Anonymous Nan said...

So true. I started a novel last month. Hammered out 50 pages then the holidays broke my pace. I am now striving to get back to that place of narrative abandon. The kamikaze first draft. Best of luck and thanks for the words of perseverance!

8:42 PM, December 16, 2011  
Blogger Two Thirds Sky said...

I was just reading the beginning of your post - hmm I thought to myself, she needs to read Stephen King's On Writing. Scroll down. There he was.

He and Cixous helped me write my Honours thesis. Great advice. I murdered many darlings!

9:28 PM, December 16, 2011  
Anonymous Susan Colket said...

I love your writing. I found you in Bon Appetit and then found Orangette. Your writing inspires me and helps me write. I also love SK's On Writing...the whole thing, including the quotes above, and most especially the last paragraph in the chapter On Living: A Postcript.

7:51 AM, December 17, 2011  
OpenID thepinkrachael said...

I just found your blog last week through someone else (I can't remember who, I'm afraid!) and I'm a fan already, especially the photos - they really add to it all! My boyfriend has just finished on Writing and raved about ti too! Good luck with your book - the important thing I think is being able to get it all out and see that it's horrible, otherwise how would you make it wonderful?!

11:33 AM, December 17, 2011  
Anonymous Caroline @ Our Daily Plate said...

Okay, I'm heading out to pick up a copy of Stephen King's On Writing this afternoon.
Thank you for always being inspiring.

11:40 AM, December 17, 2011  
Anonymous Stacey said...

Good luck! I don't comment often but I read and listen often but big-scary-and-usually-doable projects like your next few months need as much cheering on as possible.

1:18 PM, December 17, 2011  
Blogger momma2O said...

I can't remember how I stumbled on it, but I borrowed On Writing years ago from the library and read it for fun. Stephen King is hilarious and his stories in the beginning made me laugh so hard.

9:33 PM, December 17, 2011  
Anonymous Marissa said...

I'm glad you reminded me of Stephen King's On Writing - a generous, funny, endearing read. I'll never forget the image of the 'tooth necklace' he made for his wife...

Thanks Molly.

10:13 PM, December 17, 2011  
Blogger Kitchen Vignettes said...

It's impossible to imagine that anything you would write would not be completely delightful to read. I showed your book to my dad last time he was visiting, he is one of the toughest writing critics I know and he gobbled it up from cover to cover and sang its praises. I have a hunch that even at your worse, your writing is still a joy to read. I'm sure you've already heard this one, but this Ted Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert always gives me a good laugh and food for thought when I'm feeling stuck in a creative project ... (I've watched it about oh 100 times): http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html
So looking forward to read to your new book! :-)

5:30 AM, December 18, 2011  
Anonymous Liz B said...

Awesome Molly! Totally behind you there xx

7:59 AM, December 18, 2011  
OpenID knittingmydayaway.com said...

You have been nominated for the “Versatile Blog Award”.

take a look:


8:47 AM, December 18, 2011  
Blogger caughtwriting said...

You have about a million replies! But I just wanted to say I love your photos and I've just finished reading the Stephen King book too. A lot of what he says makes perfect sense to me too. It's always best to get something on the page then at least you have something to start with. I'm only just starting to play with writing, so learning all the time. Great post. Polly

9:27 AM, December 18, 2011  
Blogger Junsui said...

I love these posts about writing. Since I'm writing (i.e. plodding at the pace of a snail) through my dissertation right now, I can relate to your pain. But it really is better to keep going--just keep on typing-- even if you want to stab yourself in the eye. I've had that feeling, too.

As a fun fact from a student of Russian literature, Nabokov, even prolific, perfectionist Nabokov, wrote once about wanting to stab himself over writing (I believe it was a test, but whatever. Tests, like essays, reveal our weaknesses and vulnerabilities). We're in good company.

12:49 PM, December 18, 2011  
Blogger kale @ tastes good to me! said...

Shame on me for not having something inspirational or finger-wagging to say about writing, but... what was the drink with the orange slice on your desk? Was there campari in there? Just had to ask... (As I scuttle away head down.)

4:53 PM, December 18, 2011  
Blogger Epiventures said...

Well there you go again. Being so human.

6:12 PM, December 18, 2011  
Blogger Molly said...

Many, many thanks for the kind comments, friends. I know I'll be rereading them over and over in these next weeks and months. You make me feel much better.

And to those who mentioned Anne Lamott and shitty first drafts, absolutely! I've read Bird by Bird three times. Still not very comfortable with just how shitty those drafts can be, though. I'm working on that...

And kale @ tastes good to me, yes, there was indeed Campari in there! But I can't remember whether it was a Negroni or an Americano. Probably a Negroni.

6:24 PM, December 18, 2011  
Anonymous DessertForTwo said...

Godspeed, Molly. I hope you remember to enjoy the process :)

8:02 PM, December 18, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i loved King's book "On Writing". my favorite part was after his agent told him what he'd got him for the paperback rights for "Carrie". when he realized his life had changed and he wouldn't have to struggle financially to be able to write. not being able to tell anyone but running down to the pharmacy because it was the store open and buying his wife a hairdryer because it was the most expensive thing in the store. him sitting his wife down when she got home, giving her the hairdryer, telling her and then both of them breaking down crying. it was at once an incredibly powerful piece of writing that instantly conveyed their emotions at that moment.

11:51 PM, December 18, 2011  
Blogger Julie said...

I love On Writing. One of King's most memorably passages for me was regarding the position of a writer's desk--facing the wall, not gazing out the window. When I was setting up our office, that's exactly what I did. (I do have the window immediately to my left, and a swivel chair, so I'm afraid I still spend much time bird- and neighbor watching.)

Keep the faith--your book will be fabulous, and we all can't wait to read it!

6:32 AM, December 19, 2011  
Anonymous Tracy said...

Don't be afraid of the delete key. It's liberating.

11:50 AM, December 19, 2011  
Blogger Julie Wallbridge (feminist farmer's wife) said...

I started writing a book yesterday. Yes I did. So far nothing but blank. This after forty years of complaining about how much I want to write a book and can't make the time - though words to paper fall out of me like snow from the sky usually - the pressure is not so kind. Funny that

I recently heard about writing for the garbage can. Write like nobody will ever read it. (Though all of us will!)

Also - I love the passage at the beginning of Elizabeth Gilbert's committed where she talks about her writer's block after Eat Pray Love.

Get out the trash can. We WILL be waiting to be your garbage ladies.

2:54 PM, December 19, 2011  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Hi, friend. You can do it!!!! I threatened eye-stabbage all throughout the thesis writing, and still do frequently at work. it's part of the creative process, I say! Sanity breaks for wine and Singles help, too :)

5:05 PM, December 19, 2011  
Anonymous Janis Oliver said...

Boy oh boy do I know how you feel... but you say it so much better than I can express.

6:49 PM, December 19, 2011  
Anonymous trish said...

Wouldn't it be nice if writing were as easy and comforting as cooking. Pull out clean cutting board and knife and begin to chop, cook and eat.

Repeat as needed.

6:56 PM, December 19, 2011  
Blogger michaela said...

its so funny being on the other side. as a reader, i just see a talented author with stories i'm drawn into. when i finished a homemade life, i was sorry it ended. thankfully you work through the challenges of being a writer, so we can all enjoy the fruits of your labor. not everyone has courage to pursue dreams and put aside fear of rejection or failure, as you do

8:50 PM, December 19, 2011  
Blogger dbs said...

Inspired by this.

9:51 PM, December 19, 2011  
Blogger Mimi said...

You go girl. It's going to be beautiful. :)

12:51 PM, December 20, 2011  
Blogger Foodiva said...

Hi Molly. Just show up everyday for your part, and you'll be alright. It'll all get done by March. :)

11:25 PM, December 20, 2011  
Anonymous Ashley said...

Please don't poke your eye out.
I can't imagine you ever writing a single bad word. As I first began to fall in love with writing you were such a great source of inspiration. You were the one who told me to read Bird by Bird, a favorite to this day, and you were the one who encouraged the very rough, rough draft. I've never thanked you for your time and encouragement. Thank you.
I wish I could offer you the same type of encouragement by I'm afraid my words fail.
Just keep going, bird by bird. And if you need a break for a cookie, I am your girl.

10:08 AM, December 21, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Annie LaMott's "Bird by Bird" is one of the better books on writing (and life) I've ever read.

11:10 AM, December 21, 2011  
Anonymous KellyVee said...

i own your first book and proudly display it on my cookbook shelf, and I can't wait for your next. no pressure....really.. just saying you rock socks and my (your) first is lonely.

4:57 PM, December 21, 2011  
Blogger SamvFood said...

I am a 13 year old boy who lives in chicago and loves to cook and eat. I have been expanding my cooking interest in food and cooking in many of the prestigious restaurants in Chicago. If you have a moment please checkout my blog at www.samvfood.com

11:34 PM, December 21, 2011  
Anonymous Merrymom said...

Hey Molly,
I loved your first book, and I'm looking forward to your second book. I just finished reading another book that had essays in it and some recipes. I had no desire to make any of the recipes in the book. The writing was good, but I thought the recipes should have been appealing too. It was strange......I definitely feel that your book stands out among others.
I am sure your editor will help you decide what stays in your second book. Rely on people you trust to help you.
You are really in a great place in your life. Not many people can say they have accomplished so much at this point in their lives. Keep up the great work!
Love the photos from this post too.....all film I presume? They look great.....next book.....possibly photos and essays???
Happy Holidays.....relax and enjoy some time with family and friends!

7:09 AM, December 22, 2011  
Blogger balderton said...

Hi Molly,
I resonate with you on getting up the energy to write. Even if it's not something to place on the blog right away (just a draft). At least you get that brain working.

Keep at it. You're good at it and enjoy some downtime like one person wrote. Merry Christmas.

12:32 PM, December 22, 2011  
Blogger Dorothea said...

That is exactly how I feel when I read my own writing. You are very talented and I'm glad you keep at it.


10:44 PM, December 22, 2011  
Blogger Melanie said...

I have that Stephen King writing book. Although I don't agree with his premise that writing is easy. Sure you can get on a roll but the day to day is a slog and a mind game.

8:49 AM, December 23, 2011  
Anonymous CCP said...

MW: Many, many thanks for your lovely writing and photography though the course of the year; Have a splendid Christmas and New Year!

(And hang in there; I have faith your next book will be as beautiful as the first was.)

10:30 PM, December 23, 2011  
Anonymous Payal said...

Can't wait for the book!

12:49 AM, December 24, 2011  
OpenID labaleinenoire said...

Bukowski in "Hollywood" talked about how writing is not the hard part, it's sitting down at the typewriter that's difficult.

I feel the same about painting.

3:16 AM, December 25, 2011  
OpenID the-tasty-truth.com said...

I've heard great things about that book. Do whatever it takes to get you through...good luck!

5:55 AM, December 26, 2011  
Anonymous Jack Matthews said...

My wife told me of your blog and I have been reading it off-and-on for several weeks. I've just noticed your banner with the depth-of-focus adjustments -- nice. I like your photography that accompanies your text. Good luck, good thinking and good depth on your manuscript. ~ Jack of Sage to Meadow.

2:58 AM, December 27, 2011  
Blogger Boho mom said...

Nice to find a fellow writer's blog. I love your post and your writing is very candid, very honest. Inspires me.
And yes - I cannot say enough good things about Stephen King’s "On Writing". It is my bible.
Hang in there...your manuscript will be fabulous I'm sure!

3:09 PM, December 27, 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Molly:
Please don't be too hard on yourself. I received your book as a gift and thoroughly enjoyed it! For some reason, recently I've had a hard time reading through to the end of any book. I completed yours quickly, and was inspired, not only with your cooking, but with your writing, as well. Continue to write from your heart and I know it will be a hit. I look forward to your next book. Thank you for your last! Lori

4:21 PM, December 27, 2011  
Anonymous Kiran @ KiranTarun.com said...

Best of luck on your new book! Love your writing skills :)

8:56 PM, December 27, 2011  
Blogger Lorrie said...

My garden has taught me that if I want to get food, I have to start with a seed and some shit. And then add sweat.

6:48 AM, December 28, 2011  
Blogger Marie M. said...

I've never mentioned this before -- although I don't know why? Your photographs still my heart. Do you ever sell any?

10:20 PM, December 28, 2011  
Anonymous meaghan said...

i am reading your first book now -- bought it when i was home for christmas at a barnes and noble (my boyfriend works at an indie bookstore in new york and was only slightly offended).

i'm reading it backwards, which is oddly satisfying.

anyway i just read about the italian grotto eggs. it reminded me of the blue grotto in capri (la grotta azzura). you should go there, on a pilgrimage.

thank you for this book, and godspeed on the next one.

7:21 AM, December 31, 2011  
Anonymous Launi said...

I've never written anything but middle-grade fiction, so nothing particularly "grown-up." But I've read Mr. King's book and it never ceases to motivate me.
Love your way...it works well.

6:08 PM, January 03, 2012  
Blogger Melanie said...

Molly - just saw your blog for the first time. It's LOVE! Thanks also for all of the advice in your FAQ. Realy useful stuff. I'm totally inspired by your use of film. That takes committment!

4:37 AM, January 05, 2012  
Anonymous kristina said...

As Anne Lamott says, it's okay to have shitty first drafts. In fact, they lead to great final edits. Can't wait for the new book!

2:04 PM, January 05, 2012  
Anonymous kristina said...

Just realizing that like 100 people probably also mentioned Anne Lamott. Apologies for the repeat, but she's so right!

2:05 PM, January 05, 2012  
Blogger Gaia said...

I have your first book and i've love it!!!

12:41 PM, January 06, 2012  
OpenID bunnyeatsdesign said...

I hope you find inspiration from somewhere Molly. I hope it grows like wildflowers. I just came across your book recently and I bought your book on Amazon last night (Kindle edition), stayed up til the wee hours reading it last night and finished it today. I imagine it is annoying that something that takes time to construct takes so kittle time to read, but if it is any consellation, my copy is filled with my virtual highlights and bookmarks and notes. Gutted that the Kindle edition doesn't include illustrations. It's not often a foodie book has drawings, I was looking forward to the visual treat. Is there anywhere I can view them online?Can't wait to read what else you have in store for us.

4:24 AM, January 08, 2012  
Blogger Spongedrop said...

Molly, I love your writing. If you weren't so honest and didn't talk about the struggles you sometimes have it wouldn't mean half as much to me. You know how sometimes you just can't help but be irked by people who are always so 'perfect', even though they are entirely nice and you're unjustified in being irked? Well I'm so glad I don't feel that way about you. I love that you can admit that sometimes your gems of writing don't come easy. Writing is a scary thing to do, especially when you're writing about yourself. I just blogged about my new year resolutions, that I almost failed on keeping already, due to my fear of writing and putting myself out there. I'm hoping it'll make me stick to them more! Good luck with the book, you know all your fans will love it. x

4:31 AM, January 22, 2012  

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