What I’ve published
One of my favorite parts of travel is sampling the local cuisine, which has inspired me to start a new story collection. I’m calling it Dishroom Blunders. The high-level overview of this new collection is that as I travel on my nomadic adventure, I’ll attempt to recreate my favorite dishes I discover along the way. Follow the link above to learn more about the theme for the collection and the origin of the name.
My latest article is “Tomato Tea - Eleven Madison Park,” which covers the story of Shelby and I’s adventure eating at Eleven Madison Park, one of the top-rated restaurants in the world. I then attempt to recreate my favorite dish—tomato tea—and post both my results and my recipe.
What I’ve been writing
I realized this morning that I’ve been working nearly every day on my first novel, but I haven’t written in over a week. I’m deep in the research process, which has been both fun and overwhelming. My upcoming novel will be set in 1953, which is a time period I didn’t live through, so I have to question and research every aspect of life.
Did high schoolers get class rings back then? Were helicopters invented yet? Who was prominent in pop culture? Had the Cold War started? What crops were grown in Iowa?
I think I’ll break through the research process by the end of next week and get back to writing. My hope is that by front-loading all the research, I’ll be able to more quickly write the story.
Where I’ve found inspiration
I listened to a podcast recently where Tim Ferris interviewed Jerry Seinfeld on his systems, routines, and methods for success.
I’ve found writing to be rewarding, but it’s a tough and lonely process. Jerry Seinfeld is an incredibly successful writer and person, so it was encouraging how normal he made himself seem. He described writing as “The single most difficult thing a human being can do.” Even after all his success, he said he would never criticize another person who’s trying to put words on a blank piece of paper. In his words, “Success is survival.”
People tell you to write like you can do it, like you’re supposed to be able to do it. Nobody can do it. It’s impossible. The greatest people in the world can’t do it.
So if you’re going to do it, you should first be told: ‘What you are attempting to do is incredibly difficult. One of the most difficult things there is, way harder than weight training, way harder, what you’re summoning, trying to summon within your brain and your spirit, to create something onto a blank page.’
No one’s really that great. You know who’s great? The people that just put tremendous amount of hours into it. It’s a game of tonnage. You know?
He attributes the quality and quantity of his work to the fact that he sits down every day to write. He removes all distractions—phone, TV, other people, etc.—and sits with a notepad. He says that young writers come to him and say they are struggling to write all day, as they think they should. His response is that, “Nobody writes all day. Shakespeare can’t write all day. It’s torture.”
I found this both comforting and validating for how I’ve decided to fit writing into my life. I want to keep my day job in software, both because I enjoy it and because I don’t want to be a starving artist. And honestly, I haven’t felt like it’s held me back. I can find an hour per day to write. Most days I can find two or three. I think this has been a good balance so far and removes the temptation to try and pound out the work quicker. I’m finding that I can’t do that with creative work. Ideas need time to simmer.
In the (slightly misogynistic) words of Warren Buffet, “You can't produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”
What I’ve been up to
We are still living in NYC. Skutull and I walk in Central Park several times per day. We haven’t explored every nook and cranny, but we’ve blazed a good number of trails in all four corners of the park.
Skutull has now done most of the major NYC touristy things he’s allowed to do. He’s let the screens in Times Square burn his retinas; he’s ridden the subway to Grand Central Station; he’s scurried across town in taxi cabs; he’s walked across the Brooklyn Bridge; and most importantly, he’s sampled New York pizza.
We leave New York this upcoming Friday and will be sad to go. I feel like we’ve made the most of our time in the city, but there is still so much to do. I think you could live here and never do everything even if you put in a good effort.
Tomorrow we’re pulling our car out of the stacked parking garage and driving to The Hamptons and enjoy some beach time. Next time I write, we’ll be in D.C!
Enjoy the journey,