When I started this blog, it was about the recipes. It was a way for me to capture what I was cooking and eating. A way for me to end the search for that recipe that I made that time with the stuff, it was on the right side of page in that cookbook, I think. It replaced the spreadsheet (yup, geek here) that I devised to track the recipes I made and wanted to make, a spreadsheet with pivot tables (yup, doubling down on geek here) to easily pull up a list of all Greek soups with tomato as the main ingredient.
In those early days, my cookbooks filled one shelf, my cooking magazines two. The book section grew to two and pushed out the magazines. In a big purge, I spent dozens of night on the floor in front of my bookshelf with a pile of magazines. I flipped and I ripped, taking only the best recipes and filling a blue folder. Then a red folder. The cookbook shelves soon counted three, but a new shelf was emerging. A shelf of writing about food, not just recipes.
It started with Adam Gopnik’s writings about Paris, which was about the city, which meant it was about the food. Then, somewhat predictably, MFK Fisher. I jumped right in with her 744-page, five-books-in-one tome. I’m still pawing my way through that one. These days there’s Ruth Reichl, a handful of other food memoirs and recipes with stories, and more recently, the type of magazine that I don’t throw away.
I was driving to a meeting today, listening to NPR, and I realized that I don’t just think about food and read about food and write about food. I also think about writing. Today’s Fresh Air was an interview with Tony Kushner, who wrote the screenplay for the recently-released Lincoln movie. The story of the film’s development was interesting enough, but skip ahead to 11:57:
Dave Davies: I read that when you wrote this screenplay, you gathered just the right fountain pens and notebooks. What’s the role of that?
Tony Kushner: I write everything with a fountain pen, I don’t know why. I’ve done it since I was bar mitzvahed. I was given a fountain pen, a Parker fountain pen, and I loved it. And I never liked writing anything with pencils or ballpoints. I just can’t stand it. Fountain pens have very expressive lines. When you’re upset and you’re writing really hard, it gets thicker and darker. And when you’re tentative, it’s thinner and more spidery… I keep notebooks and write in them. I’m 56 years old and I find it easier to write when I’m first pulling everything together with a pen and paper. The noise of the computer feels like impatience. It’s the sound of impatience to me. And I like having a paper trail of what I’ve crossed out because sometimes I go back and realize I shouldn’t have done that. It’s a more natural way for me to write. I’m sure I’m the last generation that will ever say anything like that.
When I got home, I pulled a small notebook from my purse, a fountain pen from the drawer, and tried to draw a line. The ink had dried up, and right now that pen tip is sitting in a shallow bowl of ever-bluer water, waiting to be filled again.
As I’m typing now, I hear that sound of impatience.
Once the nib is all clean and I’ve refilled the cartridge (brown ink this time?), I’m going to sneak away from my computer every now and again. I’ll go into a different room and maybe put my feet up and write. I’ll make scribbles and draw arrows and squeeze in extra notes perpendicular to the lines using smaller and smaller print until I hit the corner of the page. And then draw another arrow and keep writing.
I’ll hear the scratch of the tip. It will be the sound of writing.
I’m not sure how this will go.
I’ll keep you posted. (Get it, post-ed?)