As I now sit day after day in front of the screen pulling memories like rabbits from a hat, playing with ideas and jotting them down before they scamper from my head, I cannot decide if inspiration comes just a little more quickly, that much easier when I have so much more to do or if it is harder to find, spread out as it is over so many surfaces. And now one more challenge to brighten up my week. With so much on our collective plates, why would Ilva and I add one more chore, impose one more deadline, foist yet another assignment on an already overcharged workload that demands time, writing and words or photographs?
Plated Stories now fills our days, our weeks with bold defiance, daring me to find the words to fit the theme that, yes, we ourselves have chosen in a fit of jubilatory glee (or gleeful insanity?). As each week now seems to scurry by in a mad rush, as if Monday is teasing, goading us on, provoking us to put out or give in, we push ourselves to meet the challenge. I desperately feed my own blog all the while pushing forward on my other projects, stories and articles to be submitted, pieces due for this magazine deadline or that, a crazy book project and now this.
But somehow, Plated Stories has turned out to be just what I needed. A blessing in disguise. Boxing myself in with a theme – at once so specific and so open - and a date due seems to bring out the best in me. Or quite possibly it is working with Ilva, a creative dynamo, that stimulates my own creative juices. Working with a photographer gives me a new perspective on a topic, a new way to look at something. It provokes ideas without the risk of overlap. Ilva allows me to go my own way, figure out how each theme touches me, the images it provokes and brings alive in my own head and heart. Sundays are as exciting as Mondays as we pull together the new post, meeting up on a draft to play show and tell.
“I just put up the first photos. Tell me what you think. Will add two more once I shoot the recipe.” Music to my ears. We are each so anxious and excited to discover what the other has come up with, yet always sure that my words and her images will somehow go so well together, become a cohesive whole. “I’ve inserted my words, my stories. Hop over and read through and let me know what you think.” And the fun begins.
And Monday morning. “To you the honor to hit publish this week, baby!” I wake up and stumble to my phone to check messages – usually from her. A quick once over, a touch up or two on the story or recipe and I hit the button and share it with all the world.
Plated Stories is a game, the challenge a welcome treat. At Plate to Page, we give our students an exercise meant to open their eyes to new ways to be inspired, to find something to write about out of the ordinary, the way to discover a new angle or a new outlook on what could possibly be such an ordinary or difficult topic. Or simply a way to find inspiration when the mind pulls up a blank. Panicked eyes as we set the timer, the pressure wreaking havoc on the peaceful atmosphere. Then ideas begin to click, the working of 12 brains almost palpable, humming. Plated Stories has become my own exercise: a seemingly random topic placed in front of me, keyboard at the ready, timer adjusted and ticking down to Monday.
And it works the charm.
And Mondays will never be the same again.
This week, our theme is Sieves and Colanders. The recipe is a Crémet Nantais, a regional dessert and a mighty treat. Simple to make, no baking involved, wide open to variations and experimentation, it is a spectacular dessert. Visit Sieves and Colanders on Plated Stories for the recipe. And to be inspired.
What does the theme inspire in you?
* I never had much of a liking for Monday, this start of the week when we begin the routine all over again.