Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Baking a Book in the American Gothic House

My apologies for my infrequent posts as of late. I've been busy. Not because I was traveling to Chicago to hand out free slices of pie on National Pie Day. No, I rarely travel these days. I can almost always be found at home, in the American Gothic House, in my pajamas, 24/7, not driving anywhere for days on end, living like a hermit. But don't feel sorry for me. Sequestering myself--at least for the winter months--is intentional. I'm working on my book about pie.

I was working on a book about pie when Marcus died. The story was about how I left my dot com job to become a pie baker in Malibu, about choosing happiness and simplicity (and poverty!) over a big paycheck and business class flights to places like London (I still miss that expense account!) I was half way through this book, in fact, on the day he died, August 19, 2009.

The pie book I'm writing now is a much different one. In it, I still tell the story about trading my web producer career for that of pie baker to the stars. But the book is mostly about my grief over losing Marcus and the role pie has played in my healing. It's not an easy story to write. Reliving every detail surrounding my husband's death isn't my idea of a good time. In fact, it’s been a hellacious process as I examine and write in detail about the raw emotions of those early days, causing the pain to return all over again, as if he just died yesterday. (It’s times like these I am grateful to live alone where no one except my dogs can hear me cry.)

Besides the difficult subject matter, writing a book-length work and not just a blog post requires a different kind of concentration, an uninterrupted focus. Blogging pulls me out of that long-form story, a story I need to preserve the discipline to stick with in order to finish it. Even a back door visit from a neighbor might be a welcome 20-minute break, but by the time you find your rhythm again that 20 minutes ends up being a one-hour disruption to the writing flow. And when you have 300-some pages to write, every hour counts.

Why the hurry? Pie! It will be spring soon and once the snow melts, the tourists will come flocking back. And they will not just want pie, they will EXPECT it. So I need to be prepared to switch gears again, move my laptop off my kitchen table (why is it the kitchen is always the best room in the house to be productive and creative?!) and make room for rolling pie dough.

One more word about blogging—and why I shouldn’t be writing this post right now…or why I SHOULD. I read an article that was posted in a Yahoo! Group for journalists I belong to. It was titled: “Is Blogging Keeping You from Writing Your Book?” I can’t find the article now, but I’ve mulled that question over in my head many times—in fact, almost every time I publish a blog post. Well? Is my blog keeping me from writing my book?

The answer has finally presented itself. It has taken a year and a half to become clear. It has taken a year and a half after setting my previous pie manuscript aside and instead writing about my grief, publicly, in my blog. Writing about my pie journey, all in my blog. Writing about my difficult relationship with Marcus, the many hours of counseling I’ve needed to put my life back together, the many, many, many pies I’ve baked to find a calm center in myself again, even my “testing the love waters” again with Mr. X. It’s all in my blog. Without realizing it at the time, I see now, I have already written my book. It’s all here, in my blog.

Regardless of this revelation, for the time being, while my blog posts will be less frequent, my writing is more prolific than ever. I’ve been culling through old posts, reliving old memories, and reworking all that story-telling into a book using pie as a thread to weave it all together. I already have a new agent who is shopping my book proposal to editors this very week. Yowsa! So if you’re hungry for more stories from me, you will get them—hopefully, for purchase, at a book store near you.

And if you’re hungry for pie, you will get that too. The Pitchfork Pie Stand will be open in a few months, when my writing hermitage transforms back into a bustling pie baking center. Until then, you can find me at my kitchen table. In my pajamas.

4 comments:

martha said...

Good luck in your writing! I'll look forward to reading your book when it comes out!

B and T Crowd said...

I second Martha's comments. (Quad) Pie rules! It even severed as a first date for me and my current girlfriend.

Melissa said...

I am so glad to have found you. I love, love, love pie - I'm a beginner baker and mother of 3. I look forward to learning from you, not just about pie making, but about how you roll with the punches in life. It takes a special person to be honest and open about their personal experiences; I hope it brings you healing as well as a sense of peace to know you've got people who care at the other end of the virtual connection ;-)

Bev Gomez said...

Hey Beth, this post made me cry too thinking about losing your husband as I lost the love of my life 3 days before my birthday in Feb. this year. I thought I was better but now I sit her commenting on your blog in tears. Oh the pain of losing a lover. I am Kathy Weiss's sister Bev and I am posting your blog name on my rubber stamping blog. God bless Beth!