Food for Thought

This week, the planets aligned in my creative galaxy: acceptance letters from two publications; a literary agent seeking quirky cookbooks; a food memoir writing course; a blogger who wants to feature my mother’s cooking newsletter on her site.

As I ran in pre-dawn dusk this morning, drenched in sweat and the deluge of inspiration, I decided to reopen a writing project I’d shelved two years ago in a fit of rage at a disease that knows no shame.

I’d envisioned the book as a tribute to my mother’s many talents. We’d write it together, I thought, the perfect project to regain the sense of purpose Alzheimer’s was slowly stripping away. I’d interlace essays from the monthly newsletter she’d written and designed for thirty years with posts from my blog; use artwork and recipes from her cookbook Cook & Tell, published nearly two decades ago.

But reminders of the skills she’d lost and attempts to reclaim the identity of the woman she no longer remembered proved too painful for either of us to endure. I surrendered the project and Alzheimer’s won that round. Almost.

When the Universe nudges, I’ve learned to listen. And when inspiration sparks creativity, I’m propelled into action.

Gone Girl

I’ve left mom alone for ten days for a petsitting job, and I’m as nervous as she was when she dropped me at summer camp, age eleven.

She’s not alone, really. The caregivers in her memory care home look out for her 24/7. The care director texts photos of her at cooking club; playing the harmonica; modeling new hats. I should enjoy this time away.

It’s hard, though, after spending four years with someone who panics when I’m not there every day. Parenting roles are reversed in our demented lives and each time I leave, it’s as if she were a child again, scared her mother won’t come back. Even after the hundreds of times I’ve left and returned, all she knows is that in that moment, I am gone.

Eventually, worry lifts; fear subsides and I learn to trust the process.

Write On

You write because you can’t imagine life without writing. You write because you can’t imagine life as a writer. You write because at eight years old, you told everyone you were going to be a writer. You write because you don’t think you’re good enough. And then you write because you are enough.

You write to give meaning to a life beyond sales calls and quotas. You write to quash self-doubt. You write 140-word blog posts to remember who your mother was before she forgot who you were. You write a novel because fiction creates a world of escape.

You write because you dream about writing and the story awakens you.

You write when you can’t wait to write, and you write when you don’t want to. You write in notebooks with different colored ink marking your mood, after a shot of nicotine courage in pre-dawn darkness. You write on your laptop. On your phone. On grocery receipts.

You write because you’re an addict and the page is now your bottle. You write every day now that you’re sober, because when you drank you wrote shit, if even at all.

You write to help others. You write to give purpose to passion. You write because that is what a writer does.