Reigniting the creative spark 16/02/21

If anything, the Covid-19 crisis and adapting to lockdown and restrictions has forced creatives of all ilks to rethink their processes without abandoning their chosen path. A subtle connectivity that can ignite the spark through a passing conversation.

I found myself over the past month in a slump. That post-novel funk that seeps in after you type THE END. My project is finished, I know this because I have no desire to go back in and add/delete or rewrite any sections. In my head, it is ready to go. I never, ever want to see it again.

And, like any baker worth their salt, I hope this work won't end up flat.

So I was surprised to find that after a recent conversation, I've started hoarding notebooks and pens quicker than usual. The conversation began a fortnight ago when I was ordering a click and collect from a restaurant. Neatly sidestepping the collapse of the hospitality sector, this venture has kept afloat by opening Thursdays to Saturdays with a takeaway lunch menu, selling homemade bread, and the wine cellar now racked at the checkout, standing proud with locally sourced rapeseed oils and tempting pastries.

And they had an ambitious St Valentine's weekend dinner with matching wines. The chef and Sommelier were (of course) natural salespeople. 

The chef is tall, a rake-thin strip of energized wire in whites and stained blue apron. His hands are strong and assured, he speaks of the challenge the crisis has brought and his planned 4-course menu. He feels that the situation has freed him up, he wants to experiment and talks about combining quail with truffle. Pork with celeriac and 'thinking recipes outside the box,' His creativity and his desire to explain how he plans to build the menu into an experience is infectious. I think a good book must have that element too, a sense at the end of enjoying an 'experience'.

I'm not a foodie, but like all good salesmen, his passion shines through. He smiles at me and on cue, the sommelier chimes in - a taster wine per course; small bottles, no more than 2 glasses each with a dessert sherry and whiskey-infused Petit-four to finish it. She added that, like the chef, she was planning bold, unexpected, and off-the-beaten-track vintages.

Only ones so young and beautiful can think this way out. She shows me the draft for the menu that will be printed out from the small HP beside the till. Her handwriting is fluid, and lots of crossing out. 

"It's very much a work in progress," she admits.

I know all about that 

And I purchase the meal. 

One week later it's St Valentine's day and I collect a stack of boxes, with the small bottles of wine. What we forget is the ritual with dining. That for a few minutes on a cold, wet February night, we get a reminder of the old 'normal'. An echo of 2019 before the chaos. Candles lit we sit and dine. Each bottle has a number for the course and its title written in neat handwriting - I think of Alice in Wonderland encountering the bottle labelled 'Drink me' and look at the carefully packaged food. A taste of civilisation in an uncertain time. 

The chef and Sommelier were so enthused and the finished product both magical and finished. This deep sensory connection has lit a spark. That a conversation with a professional assembling the ingredients and the other planning the accompaniment wines adds a certain full-circle feeling that takes the experience to a higher level.

...and I'm almost ready to write again...

to find out more about me and my writing journey, here's my website