Saturday, February 8, 2020

WHEN'S BREAKFAST? -- by Jane Kelley

My father grew up on a farm in Indiana. He insisted on eggs for breakfast and so the rest of us had to have them too. Mom cooked them different ways. But whether they were scrambled, soft boiled, or sunny side up, I couldn't eat them.


I was a reluctant riser. Each morning, by the time I dragged myself to the table, the hot breakfast was cold and unappealing. Mom yelled. I cried. I forced down a few bites before dashing to the school bus. Was it any wonder that I hated eggs?

But here's the thing. I don't really hate eggs. I love to eat them––just not for breakfast. I love breakfast––just not in the morning.

There's a lesson here for writers. Sometimes the moment may not be right for what we're serving.

Just the other day, I read a New York Times article about Claude McKay's novel Romance in Marseille. According to article, the novel contains themes like "queerness, the legacy of slavery, postcolonial African identity that are among those at the forefront of literature today." But those themes weren't acceptable then, so the novel didn't get published for 87 years.

That's decades! That's longer than I expect to live! (Although those mornings shoving yellow bits around my plate certainly felt like they lasted forever.)

So then how do we know if we should persist with a project? How can we predict the future? Well, we can't. There's a difference between serving up eggs and words. Whatever we write will keep––a month, a year, a decade––until we return to it as a wiser person and a better writer. And sometimes, as is true for my current project, the news can make it topical and solve a pesky little plot problem.

Do not despair. Do not give up. Just be prepared to be patient. Keep your eyes open for changes in the world and in yourself-–and for new things to be passionate about. That's important. You'll need to write something else while you're waiting for someone's appetite to awaken.

4 comments:

  1. I sooo connect with this--especially that last line. Lots of wisdom here.

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  2. I love this post, Jane.
    The advice is timeless and worthy of serving up often- unlike eggs. I promise never to give you a call early in the morning!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sandy! My family jokes that I ended up doing what I do because I could never have gotten to an office job on time.

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