Can I talk to you about something?
I have a cookbook coming out soon. It’s about Brunch and don’t worry… starting next week (or sometime around then), I’ll shamelessly and relentlessly ask you to buy it and come see me as I’m traveling around. This is not that conversation, but that’s soon and won’t stop and I apologize (half-heartedly) in advance.
Over Easy will be my third book and I suppose by now I’m accustomed to the cycle of it. I’m not talking about the recipe testing and editing, or about the PR conference calls and the lists and emails… I’m talking more about the cycle of excitement and doubt that I work through in myself every time I release a new book.
It’s hard putting anything you create out into the world. I suspect that is especially true of the children some of you have made with your bodies. That’s not my experience just yet, but I feel a similarly about the books I make. It feels especially stomach-knotted for me knowing that the book is what it is. I can’t sneak in and make any changes or updates… or move this here or that there. I can’t move to Mars if no one likes it (I’ve asked). It’s final and we all did our best and pretty soon it’s up for your consumption and critique.
In that simmering of excitement and doubt is a sprinkling of self-criticism… a big sprinkling. Like I’m trying to toughen my skin before anyone else takes any lashes at it. Do you do this? Do you want to know how good I am at criticizing myself? Lemme tell you: I’m the best. There’s no one better. I’ve looked. I’ve asked around, but still… I’m the best at beating myself up.
I don’t mention this because I want you to fill the comment section up with encouraging sentiments. Really… that’s not what this is about. It’s more that I want to tell you how that sort of thinking takes root in my brain once it’s planted.
I had to look for a few television news clip of myself (which is a weird thing to do)… something to prove to national morning news shows that I won’t go live on their television airwaves and make a fool out of both of us. In that search, with a hands-up / I don’t know where I’m going to find these clips kind of feeling- I googled myself, trying to be specific, trying to just find the thing I needed that probably doesn’t exist anymore. In that search I stumbled upon one of those Hater Sites. You know… the kind where anonymous people say mean things about other people on the Internet. I clicked it. I read the nasty things people had to say about me.
(Don’t worry I’m fine. Remember, I’m the best at beating myself up. Ain’t nobody got sh*t on me.)
What I know now (beyond the fact that some people are like… legit-level weirdly mean) is that when the self-criticism weed is planted in the front of my brain, it seeks out external messages to confirm its validity. And when it’s looking, it finds them. It’s like watering the weeds. Yep… we’ll grow. Yep… we’ll stay. Yep… we knew we were right all along, see!?
Well, yes I do see that now. And it doesn’t take me on the loopy spiral of a rollercoaster that it used to. I care waaaay less about what strangers think of me. I’m not feeding or watering that part of my brain. I’m letting it be there until the weeds of criticism get thirsty, shrivel and wither. They will. Love lives in this brain of mine too and it always wins out.
This is just what it feels like wrestling with myself and creativity. So far I’m pulling right on through… if pulling through means making things that I feel proud of that are hopefully of use to you.
I’m grateful for all of it, weeds included.
Here’s where I’m finding inspiration this week. Some weeks we’re more input that output… that’s just the rhythm of life and I try to be honest about it. I’ll be in the kitchen on Friday baking up some Brunch treats to share with your future-self.
• Beyonce’s Grammy’s Performance. She wears the crown so well.
• I found my birthday cake with this Angel Food Cake with Heath Bar Whipped Cream
• The movie 20th Century Women is my favorite (of the three) movies I’ve seen this year.
Photo by Suzonne Stirling and her heart-shaped umbrella.
Happy Valentine’s Day.