So I did a little reading last week, a benefit for our local food bank, and I read My Inner Child, the piece that Culinate submitted to the Best Food Writing 2010. I was a wreck. Well, I was fine until about two days before the reading when I realize that the piece was all about that first Christmas after Patrick died, and that most of the people who ate the Croquembouche That Wouldn’t Die would be there — oh, and to add to the sad-memories factor — Bill and Maryanne’s beloved dead dog Moja was in the piece.
What was I thinking?
Argh! I went into full panic-tailspin mode for a day or two, especially when I realized I hadn’t done a reading since before Patrick died, which meant that he wasn’t going to be standing in the back of the room with that look of simultaneous pride and boredom that I rely on during readings. Most of the time I’m used to Patrick being dead, but every once in a while some new milestone sneaks up on you and you find yourself crying in the bathtub again. Plus, it’s not like my moribund writing career doesn’t also fill me with some … dismay, shame, horror, despair? There must be a German word for what I want, one of those great portmanteau words that encompass a whole spectrum of middle-aged failure issues. At any rate, off I went, filled with melodramatic feelings of doom … and yeah, it went really well. People liked the piece. The world didn’t crack open. I didn’t cry. I actually remembered that I like reading — like the performance aspect of it (once I’m safely on stage that is).
And the next day it occurred to me that perhaps I haven’t actually wasted the past ten years after all. It’s not like I haven’t been writing, I just haven’t managed to pull together a new book. So I started cutting and pasting. Between this blog, my Culinate and Ethicurean essays, and my Bookslut columns — well, there’s something like 300 pages of raw material to start working with — perhaps there’s a book lurking in there someplace? I’ve spent the past few days printing pages, and sorting them into categories, and thinking about what it is that I find interesting in this pile of raw material.
Which is where the crowdsourcing comes in. I know what I think I’ve been up to these past few years, but what is it that you all like? While I quail at the prospect of seeming to solicit compliments, it would be useful to have some feedback from what I think of as my 12 Trusty Readers out there in cyberspace. If there was to be some sort of LivingSmall book, what would you all like to find there?