What I love about baking is the precision and the experimentation. The science of it and the art. I write during the day about technology and oddly, sometimes, oil. The sentences are precise, the purpose specific and narrow. When I write for myself (and initially, like many writers, all of my writing was for myself) the language, the cadence, the diction, the, the, the is much rowdier.
In previous years, I was better at balancing the two writing selves, and lately, not so much. My today schedule often leaves me without the emotional capacity for running into the wild. Sounds like a first-world problem, I know this as I type it, and still it remains large. To me. In my insular universe.
Truth is, I have a demanding career that I love. I am responsible for a team of talented writers who need me swinging for them every day. And every day they amaze me, so I want to work harder to help them continue to amaze the whole agency. I also have a great family: two teenagers who are growing up too quickly, and a husband who makes me laugh every single day. I’m a lucky girl, one who is trying to show up for every moment as it happens.
There are questions, too. Was I more disciplined when my kids were younger, my schedule a little leaner? Perhaps. Am I a little less willing than I used to be to work another couple of hours on my own writing when I’ve worked a nine or ten-hour shift, worked out for an hour or more, and shuffled teenagers to and fro? Most definitely.
It doesn’t change the fact that when I’m not writing in the wild, I feel off. You can go with the phrase “part of me is missing,” although that seems too Hollywood-mom mid-life crisis for me. I’ve been out of whack for a while.
And so baking has been minding that gap for me. A little bit. It’s a fluffy way to keep writing for myself. It’s not a complete substitute, but it does help. It’s like swapping margarine in for butter. It works, but it futzes with both the science and the artistry of a recipe. I know I’m cheating it.
Also true, it’s hard for me to decide to bake when I’m trying to make healthier choices for myself. When I bake, I like a full on, hard-court press. Go full fat or go home. I’m not saying I dislike healthier recipes. Still, when I go to the trouble, I want the results to be decadent and capture raves. From me and from you. (The you here being the recipient of the bites and tastes I share and my blog dear, Poppycakes, who lives too far away for tastes.) If it’s not pretty and likely to make you grab for a gallon of milk or a jug of coffee, I just don’t see the point.
(Another aside – baking satisfies the decadent me and the me who wants to share that decadence as a way to embrace this very every moment. Baking is a separate way to be creative that has nothing to do with writing. I don’t pay much attention to my audience when I write fiction and poetry. I have to disengage from that audience so I can stay focused on writing what I need to write, give the proper attention to the characters, play with the language. I pay a lot of attention to you, tasters of my baked goods. I want to witness your senses explode with the bites. It makes me incredibly happy.)
Since October, I have taken an impressive focus to my health and it’s paying off. My goals are yes, to lose some weight (any decadent girl has that somewhere on the list, although I’ve never been overly concerned with that number, and certainly don’t live any less full a life when the number is larger). Also, more importantly, to keep a lot of other numbers looking good as I stare down a large birthday in four years. To age well. It’s hard work and I’m doing a good job of it. It takes a lot of (most of) my free time lately. It’s going to continue to do so.
These are not excuses. Are they? I’m not letting myself off the hook.
I just need to wedge in a little more time for that which really makes me who I am.