The witching hour, when the sun begins to set, and I'm sitting on the porch with my current read and a cold drink at my side. A cool breeze playing through the treetops, and the murmur of neighbors all around.
My current favorite drink is freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and gin with a twist of lime. Check out these other tasty summer cocktail concoctions suggested by the makers ofNew Amsterdam gin.
My current favorite read is always listed to the right.
One of the main reasons I started this blog a little over a year ago was to help me keep in touch, in some way, with the literary world while I was writing my novel. I felt fairly isolated throughout the process, with no writer's group, no writerly colleagues, and no friends in the area who are writers. This blog helped me to keep a pulse on writerly things, while I was out there trying to make my way in the work-a-day world. By writing here about things I was reading, or aspects of the craft I was struggling with, or readings I had attended, I was able to keep a foot in the world of fiction (besides the huge cement shoe I had in my novel). I was able to think about all things writerly. Hell, even writing out the recipes for Starving Writers was a help. And the Gooseberries...no doubt, discovering other writers' published work and finding a photo to match the words has been one of my favorite activities, something I've looked forward to doing on Sundays.
But, post-novel-draft, I am feeling so flat-out busted drop down exhausted, word-wise. I need to rest, refill, restore. So, I am going to jettison this blog for the summer. No heavy duty thinking for me, no. I am going to sit on the porch and read whatever I want and drink cold things with gin or vodka in them.
However...I will return in September. I may be revamping this blog, making some changes. One thing I'd like to do is to include some interviews with writers. And to try to keep a pulse on more current writerly news. I've got some ideas to try. It will be a new 'Midnight Lunch' in the fall.
In the meantime...I will be keeping another blog over the summer called 'An Egg A Day.' It will be 5 dozen writing exercises. 'Cos, know what? Now that I am free from the formal restraints I imposed upon myself for the novel, I am really, really looking forward to playing with words again. To simply have some good old word fun. So, I am going to be doing a writing exercise every morning, 5 days a week, and I am going to write what the exercise is everyday (not the result, just the starting point, so that others who might be looking around for some writing exercises might find something of use).
I won't be officially starting it until July 1st, but here is the link, for now: An Egg A Day.
I finished the first draft of my novel yesterday. I put that last word down, and that was it. I had seen it coming, had been anticipating how it would feel. But, in the same way you really don't know how it's going to feel when someone you love dies until they die, the feeling didn't fully hit me until it was fact. I'm left with a lot of mixed feelings...sadness that this part of the project is done, relief that it is accomplished, excitement at what is to come in the next phase. Grief at having lost this little world I was in the process of creating, day by day, word by word.
People are asking me what I'm going to do now. The short answer is: stuff the manuscript in the bottom drawer of my desk and come back to it in the fall for the re-write.
The long answer is: rest, restore, refill. Sit on my porch and sip iced drinks and read what I want to read. Write little snippets of things free from the formal constraints I had imposed for the novel. Look at snails on leaves. Smell the scent of pavement after summer rain. Listen to what the crazy man at the bottom of my street says when I walk by.
Mostly, I'm just going to relax into the knowledge that I am no longer 'C who wants to write a novel' or 'C who is working on a novel.' I am 'C who has written a novel,' 282 solid pages of a draft, anyway.
I'm going to read as much as I can about revision and rewriting this summer. Any suggestions welcomed.
Mostly, I'm just glad that--even if I drop dead of an aneurysm in the frozen foods aisle of StopNStop, or get plowed down by the #39 on Centre Street--my characters are secured in their world in the bottom drawer of my desk. They are solidly in it. Their story, even in its roughest form, has been told.
So. Someone left part of a red pepper at my home the other day...about 3/4 of a red pepper. She had diced the other part for a salad, and left me with the rest. And--let me tell you--a red pepper, for me, is an extravagance. Yes, I know, sad, but it is true: a red pepper is a real treat for this starving writer.
I was wondering what to do with this red pepper left behind. How to make the best use of it. And here is what I did:
First, you roast the red pepper. You cut it into strips, slather it with olive oil, and place it on a oven-safe pan. Then, you roast it at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
Some people, they remove the skin after roasting. Do this, if you desire. Me? I'm one of those 'why bother' types. I like skin.
So. Cook up some angel hair pasta. One serving's worth, at least.
Put the roasted red pepper in a blender. Add about a 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard. Pour in 1/2 cup cream (or--if you are me--soy milk). Sprinkle in some salt. Puree.
Dice a tomato. Add olive oil to a skillet with the tomato and 1/3 lb. chicken breast (again, this is for one serving. Solo. One). Cook the chicken on each side for 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with pepper. Add the roasted red pepper puree. Warm.
Serve over the angel hair, with a liberal dash of Parmesan.
Pair with beverage of choice. Red wine? 7-Up? Gin? Go for it.
And, you know what? Enjoy. It's divine. As I say time and time again: if you can cook, you will never go hungry. If you've got the merest of ingredients, you can make the grandest of feasts.
Cynthia Riede lives in Boston. Her short stories have been published in many literary journals, including StoryQuarterly, Black Warrior Review, and Alaska Quarterly Review. She recently completed a novel.