I have always been a foodie. even before it became a thing. As a child, I preferred blue cheese to American, spinach to watermelon, liver & onions to pizza, and I still do. Now my tastes have developed to include a wide variety of unusual and ethnic foods as well. What does food have to do with a writing blog? Bear with me and you'll see.
Among my many culinary discoveries are a few surprises that opened up a whole new area of obsession - food as medicine. This idea is nothing new. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” ― Hippocrates certainly had it right. But there are some things even Hippocrates didn't know about.
For instance, my new favorite morning beverage is chaga tea. Brewed from chunks of a blackish fungus that grows only in certain birch trees, this powerful antioxidant stimulates and regulates the immune system, reduces inflammation, helps with ulcers and gastritis, normalizes cholesterol and blood pressure levels, slows aging, and improves skin. Since Chaga grows wild only in the birch forests of Russia, Korea, Eastern and Northern Europe, Northern areas of the United States and in Canada, it is doubtful the Father of Modern Medicine ever heard of it.
Chaga has been referred to as the King of Mushrooms, and for good reason. But lately, I've become even more fascinated with a flavorful, fermented beverage called kombucha. This healthy brew dates as far back as 2000 years ago in ancient China, where it was consumed regularly to combat inflammation and ward off cancers. Despite it's vinegary fizz, many today consider it a refreshing alternative to less healthy sugary or diet sodas, and drink it for taste as well as its probiotic qualities. I find kombucha (along with yogurt and home-cured sauerkraut) to be incredibly yummy, and excellent for promoting healthy gut flora. My first home brewed batch is fermenting on my kitchen counter as I write this, and I can hardly wait to try it!
We all know the world is a better place because of mold, at least, the penicillin and cheese producing varieties. (Just imagine if Dr. Alexander Flemming had come back from vacation and thrown out all of those moldy petri dishes he found in his lab!) Composting experts confirm that a little bit of rot works wonders for the garden. Bacteria and fungus are responsible for fine wines and gastronomic wonders, not to mention they are nature's clean-up crew. We would be lost without them. It only follows then that, as a writer, I have great appreciation for literary decomposition.
The simplest things make the most sense.
When I first sat down to write about the world I'd been mulling over for decades, I began with the most basic of elements; a name. My main character, named for a drawing I had done, was Aryelle - no matter how much I tried to think of her as someone else. Breaking that name down into syllables, I came up with a meaning for it. That led to a history, genealogy, and eventually an entire language, which included references to ancient wisdom revered by her race of empaths, as recorded in the Book of Illumination. Those adages became the basis for numerous side plots, bringing to life not only new characters, but entire races of people. What had started as the simplest of elements mushroomed into the rich soil of Emrysia, now three books strong, with a prequel and sequel well underway.
Decomposition, at its finest, always leads to growth.
The characters coming to life now in the prequel are Ladhonna, Leandra and Kayanna - The Daughters of Ka'Dharron. This trio's sibling relationship will determine who they become as adults, and the roles each of them will play in Aryelle's life. As author, it's fascinating to see these characters grow and develop; the why and how lies in the sum of experience. Since this book is all about construction through deconstruction, it is my kombucha moment - a little sweet, a little tart, and full of good, healing things. I hope you as a reader will enjoy it, too, but you have to want the healing to happen. You have to look for it. Otherwise, all you may taste is vinegar.
“The natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well.”
People will tell you to write what you know, what you love. It's advice worth listening to...
For years now, in addition to my novels and poetry, I have been blogging. While this site is mostly about writing and becoming your best self, earlier blogs were all about family life and the foibles of being a Momster. (Check out imustbeoffmyrocker.blogspot.com/) It was cheaper than therapy, and killed more than the proverbial two birds with each post: I got to stay home with my kids, exercise my creative muscles, grow my tech skills, and help other moms know they weren't alone in their struggles. It was, and still is, a way to impact the world while bettering myself. Parenting is kinda the same.
I love my kids. They are amazing people despite the fact that I have no idea what I'm doing half of the time as a mother. Dwelling on all the mistakes I've made along the way, I sometimes get overwhelmed - with guilt, with regret... and with a longing to do better. It's that last one that matters most. No one is perfect, but acknowledging our flaws and moving forward from there is the only way to improve. Every. Single. Time. I may stumble more often than I'd like, but eventually, if my goal is the mountaintop, I will get there only by continuing to put one foot in front of the other. It's important to remember that - not just as a writer and parent, but as a human being - and to keep trying. We are all works in progress.
There are times within a family that it's members are like sandpaper, rubbing each other the wrong way. That friction is what smooths out our rough edges, and polishes us for our role in the world - a place just chock-a-block full of grit. (The world takes its polishing seriously!) Similarly, in a novel there is always conflict. How the characters push through it is what makes up a good story. Show me a life without conflict, and I'll show you a story that is going nowhere.
"A flat road won't take you up the mountain."
I think that might be my best quote yet. As someone who seeks to continually learn and better herself, it gives me the proper perspective for my climb. Here's to your journey and mine; may it be filled with just enough grit and stumbling blocks to make it interesting.
If you liked this post feel free to share. Photo credits to K. M. D. in this shot of her sister, J.E.D.