Hi friends! I’m BACK! Let the blogging craziness begin….
I’ve been reading Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal for the second time this week. If you haven’t read this book, seriously — go order it now. Or, better than that — go find your local bookstore and buy it from a real person who can also point you towards their current favorite book of the week. (That may be another post for another time. And yes, I heart Amazon too, don’t worry.)
Where was I? An Everlasting Meal.
Right. So, nestled among some of the most gorgeous writing I’ve come across, tucked in between recipes for roast chicken and vegetable stock and piquant relishes on crackers, there’s a recipe for A Salad For a Natural Disaster. The idea being that — no matter the day, no matter what disaster is befalling you, you can always come up with something that’s not just going to keep you alive. You can come up with something that is — dare I say? — tasty. Refreshing. Beautiful.
My favorite part is the final instruction: Mix well and hope for the best.
A creative life feels a lot like that.
It takes a lot of prep work to be creative. I absolutely live for the days that I’m curled up in my little writing den (aka my dining room) with a french press of coffee and Trevor Morris or London Grammar or Gungor playing in the background, the days that I’m staring at a blank sheet of paper or a blank computer screen and actually writing a script.
But there is so much more that comes before those days.
What research do I need to do? What do I need to process? What bits of dialogue or character development can I stick up on my board? What should I name this character? I should probably write an outline first. I need to buy more index cards and post-it notes. What’s the heart of this story?
It feels messy and mostly unproductive. I have fanatically organized “Idea Documents” in a folder on my desktop. Names I like. Story ideas. Places that are beautiful. Actors I’d love to write for. Inspiring articles. My 50-in-5 lists (another post coming soon…).
It’s a bit like stocking my writers pantry.
When am I ever going to use this much arborio rice or coconut oil or ginger? When am I ever going to use the rain in Trafalgar Square in a story? Seriously, do you really need a glass jar of salt-packed capers? It’s not like we’d really ever shoot at that location, so why even bother saving the photo? Should I really buy a dozen eggs? I’ve been trying to go vegan. But what if that boy-meets-girl story actually works? I just want to cook something easy for dinner.
I just want to write.
But the best meals you just “throw together” happen because your pantry is actually stocked with things that taste good together — like jasmine rice with a can of coconut milk and fresh ginger and lemongrass, topped with whatever vegetables you have hidden away in your fridge and pantry. A pinch of salt and fresh-ground pepper. Some soy sauce and mirin. And suddenly, on a night where I seriously don’t feel like cooking — ‘hoping for the best’ actually turns out to be pretty wonderful.
The best scripts for me happen when I’ve done all my pre-writing. First, the basics like research and outlines.
But second, and very nearly more important are the inspirations that are much less tangible — the saving of songs that sound like the right emotions, the names that capture the heart of a character, the classic novel that reminds me what beautiful prose can be. The coffee that tastes like heaven while I write. Knowing that when this script is done, I’ll crack open a bottle of good merlot with friends and celebrate.
So, go… gather your inspiration. Your ingredients. Cook. Write.
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