The Creative Process

I love mornings. I wake up early and press the start button on the coffee, then slide back into bed to see who has visited me overnight and I respond right then because I’m all about “in the moment”. I go to pour some coffee, slide back into bed yet again and open Scrivener.

It opens to the chapter that I was working on the night before, and if I’m lucky—like this morning—I re-read it and think: Heck. This isn’t bad. In fact, it’s damned good.

The chapter that plagued me as I sat on the deck at dusk with a quilt and a laptop—and a cat—Don’t forget the cat—is actually good.

How did I not see that last night? When I closed my laptop and picked up a book from my stack and flicked on my headlamp, I had sighed with disgust.

It’s the writer’s dilemma. The cycle of the creative process.

You like it. You hate it. You hate yourself. You say the heck with this (or worse). Then it’s OK. It’s good. No, it’s great.

“Cracker Pie” was last night’s chapter.  I went back to the farm to talk to Babci while I wrote it. Heard the rooster crowing when I rolled out from under the covers. I walked around the farmhouse in my mind. I smelled the smells in the kitchen. Smelled the sweat that wet her underarms as she dumped an armload of split oak into the woodbox. Felt the heat from the Glenwood warming my backside.

Here’s a sample.

“Meanwhile, after tending to her flocks and garden in the morning, Babci usually moved indoors for a little rest. She could count on me to pop into her kitchen unannounced about once a day—especially if I smelled cinnamon floating up the back stairs.

If I didn’t find her in the kitchen, she was probably feeding logs into the yawning mouth of her behemoth furnace in the dirt-floored cellar below.

I waited patiently in a pressed back chair at the kitchen table under the watchful eye of Jesus and the Apostles. (All good Catholics had a print of daVinci’s The Last Supper in their kitchen or dining room.)

Eventually Babci returned and eased her bottom into the chair beside me with a sigh.  She wiped a folded pad of handkerchief across her sweaty forehead.

The table was a massive, round, and oak with claw feet clutching the linoleum. Every Easter our entire family of aunts and uncles gathered around it for ham and kielbasa. Like most kids, we cousins sat off to the side at card tables, the boys in white shirts and the girls in pastel nylon party dresses. Me in a pastel party dress? Yeah. I’ve seen Uncle Joe’s slide collection. Proof positive that Mummy got me into one on special occasions.

Babci always had something good cooking or baking in her kitchen. The Polish standards, I wasn’t so fond of. I wasn’t into fleshy pierogis or pale goat cheese, but I sure did like the baking.

When I was lucky enough to be offered a slice of her homemade apple pie on a Blue Willow plate alongside a cup of Salada tea, or maybe a slice of raisin-studded babka, between bites I stared up at the men behind the table, wondering which one was Judas, that double-crossing jerk.

Judas would be all I knew about kisses for a very long time.”

Later today, I’m probably going to think this is crap. And now my coffee’s gone cold. Damn.

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Read more about morning, feelings, connection. And pie.

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