Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wednesday's Words of Wisdom for Writers (and Everyone Else too)

Cheffing and scribbling

As a previous post about the musician Jamie Cullum indicated, I'm always on the lookout for stories about other professions that resonate with my idea of what it is to be a writer. Yesterday, I came across an article in The Oregonian about the well-regarded Portland restaurant, Paley's Place. I've never actually set foot inside, even though it's been a jewel in the Portland dining scene since 1995. It is owned by chef Vitaly Paley and his wife, Kim, who runs the front of the house. (When I sell my first book, I'm heading there for a shindig! What say you, Marie?!)

This is what Vitaly Paley had to say in answer to journalist Michael C. Zusman's question: "To what do you attribute Paley's longevity?"

It's been a journey of discovery learning what it is we do here, and I can honestly say that it's only been in the last year that I really have begun to feel confident in my own ability and potential and to feel happy in the kitchen.

The thoughts don't always translate to the fingers--the technical prowess lags the thought process. So, sometimes you are able to think of these crazy interesting new ideas that seem perfectly logical in your head, but when you get it on the plate (page, in my case) all of a sudden you say to yourself "What was I thinking?"These days it seems like my fingers and head are a lot better synchronized.

When I read this, I nearly dropped my tea mug and shouted "Eureka!" It was such a sobering thought: a longtime chef who is so respected feels as if he is just coming into his own. I also loved the phrase about "the thoughts don't always translate to the fingers." I am plodding towards the end of the first draft of a fantasy novel that I thought would be the greatest thing since sliced bread, with all those same "crazy interesting new ideas" a la Chef Paley. But, ditto the Chef: "What was I thinking?" I just hope I can do it better justice in the rewrite.

Mood: Steady Eddie (thanks to lashings of tea and Trader Joe's Fair Trade chocolate).

Big Event coming up: Oldest son treading the boards in the school musical of Grease, starting tomorrow. He's worked very hard and I hope it will be a smashing success. Break a leg, son!

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