333 a Balance

Geeze… what am I doing? Lately I’ve been writing a comic I’ve been wanting to put together for a very long time now. I actually managed to get a chapter written and a whole bunch of characters flushed out. It felt nice to finally meet people that have been concepts for so long and start building a world that I’ve been visiting, but was always afraid to step into. I started to write this story back in 2015 and in typical creative angst – I deleted it all. I still have handwritten notes about the city, it’s denizens and I’m glad I didn’t get rid of that.

Once someone had told me that if I had to write an idea down then it’s probably stupid; a good idea would stick around in your mind. I always found that really ridiculous, because at what point do you start writing? That seed of doubt was enough to get me to delete the writings I’d had and start over. C’est la vie. Starting over actually helped me really flush out the story I wanted to tell and it only really started to make sense once I’d stopped talking to anyone about it.

Lately I’ve been writing a bit here and there on random topics too. I want to start posting weekly as a practice for writing in general. I feel like I’m really not strong enough to be doing this whole writing/storytelling thing and maybe by just getting something down I can get my hands back into the flow. I’ve gone back to learning grammar again and I’ve really gotten into reading on the process of writing. I’ve been going through Steven King’s book On Writing with a fine tooth comb and looking up the books he mentions and reading those as well. He tells this story about his grandfather’s carpentry kit and how as writers we need to build up a tool kit and make sure that we’re strong enough to carry it. I know that very well. I have one of my own in the form of my knife bag. It holds all kinds of things: knives ranging from 12” to 2”, spoons, a digital scale, my recipe book, pens, tape, whet stones, and more. It has three large compartments, five pockets and its heavy. Only recently have I physically been able to hold it with out my arm dying. I’ve been cooking for years and have I only recently needed such a large kit. Only recently been strong enough to wield it. So I’m just going to attack this the only way I know how and that’s by having everything in its place. Mise en Place.

I feel like I’m taking a crash course on English Lit and the test is if I get published or not. That’s not scary. I am trying very hard to not focus on getting published so much as just getting the work done. Mastering another craft. I’ve been having a hard time actually getting to sitting down and writing. Trying to do anything before or after work for me is nearly impossible. Limited time and limited energy make it feel as if theres static between my hands and my brain. They’re used to holding knives and pans not pen and prose. When it comes to my days off it’s difficult wanting to do anything other than my laundry and sleeping in. I somewhat dread seeing people on top of that. I love naps when I’m able to get them, but lately I’ve been too depressed to even sleep. I sit with my cursor blinking and mocking me as I grasp for a train of thought.

Through all of this all I can think about is Anthony Bourdain, and what he said pushed him to starting writing. In Kitchen Confidential he talks about his “Well Done” job and how he knew he had to do something dramatic or end up like all the other burnouts he worked with. For some kitchen slang what cooks and chefs mean by “Well Done” is overcooked; lifeless; dry; a piece of nature destroyed. It’s typically one of those jobs that sucks the life out of you and it’s filled with other people who might have had zest for things or goals, but maybe they’ve partied too hard, had too many kids, or have to keep up with too many jobs all at once. More than likely it is mix of all three. Life wears you down. Sex, alcohol, and drugs are part of the fiber in a kitchen. It’s slowly changing, but there are more than enough people who want to keep the old guard alive.

When you’re a chef the big thing that people don’t understand is that it’s a job that’s mentally and physically draining. You’re constantly talking, moving, problem solving, lifting, getting burned and you’re doing these motions for hours and hours in a loop of tickets. By the end of the day my ears are ringing from the sound of the equipment, my voice is sore from yelling over people, my forearms and calves are numb and all I want is a shower, some sex and sleep. Then I wake up and do it all again and again as each morning it gets harder to get out of bed. So since I’m not wanting to continue working or living like this, I know that doing something with my art is my only way out.

I was little when I’d met Steve Allen; the original hoast of the Late Night Show. It was a few years before he’d had his car accident in 2000 and I was at a book signing. I had my Bug and a Slug in a Rug and I wanted it signed by him. I didn’t know who he was at the time and I remember running up as he was talking to other people, and since I wanted to be a writer when I grew up I asked him how he knew if an idea was a good one or not. How would I know what was worth writing? I think the question coming from such a small person shocked him, because I remember him laughing.

My grandparents stood behind me shocked and I was just too young to be star struck. He told me the best way to know was to hear it out loud. Whatever your first impression is, is the correct one. It’s usually once we start thinking things over that we allow doubt to ruin a good idea. He usually always kept a small notebook on him or by his bedside but since he was getting older he got a voice recorder. Since then if I ever had anything I needed to write I tend to read it outloud every paragraph or so and see how it sounds.

I was thinking about that when I was driving to work the other day and it hit me that this was how I could work around my lack of time and energy. A voice recorder and the four hours I spend in my car. These days they have ones that will do text transcriptions from the recordings and then I would just need to cut, edit and punctuate from there. It’s a little cheating, very cheating, but it also is helping me get back to the art of the English language and speaking clearly. I spent so long being silent and now I can get back to the language. I can hear if this what this character sounds like or am I putting too much of my voice in it? It’s all part of what I need to work on. I’ll talk about the first play I’d written later.

We’ll see how things go with that, but for now I will spend my time making sure my hands get used to pen and prose while I build my new knife kit and make sure I’m strong enough to hold it.


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