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To quote the punk band the Descendents, “I like food. Food tastes good.” And, I think food is an apt metaphor as it relates to cooking up a novel or memoir, or even a short story.
It’s like deciding you’re going to create a gourmet meal without really knowing what the meal consists of. Sure, you know the main ingredient is chicken. You know salt and pepper will be needed. But there’s a big difference between baked chicken and chicken makhani. And, if you’re making chicken makhani, you probably should have an inkling of an idea what the ingredients are and what you’re doing. So it’s best to grab the peanut oil, garam masala, cayenne pepper, and ginger garlic paste at the grocery store before you start the dish, as opposed to starting your chicken makhani, then realizing you need those ingredients while your chicken makhani is already in the oven. Oh, by the way, chicken makhani doesn’t go in the oven. You cook it in a skillet on your stovetop.
American novelist Ernest Hemingway offered up his take on the loneliness of the writing life when he said, “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer, he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.”
As a writer, the entire process of writing longform nonfiction and fiction is a very lonely one in which, most days and nights, it’s just you and your thoughts meandering about all by yourself. There’s no audience cheering you on, except maybe your dog at your feet (snoring). No Rob Schneider motivating you, saying, “You can do it!” More