You Should Be Writing

One of the great inconveniences of writing residencies is hunger. You get settled, have some writing to do, you’re typing away with your books spread around you at your desk in bed, and suddenly you lose all focus. Shit. What happened? What’s this woozy feeling? Oh, I remember. Food. It’s time to eat.

[Aside: The desk chair is not so comfy, so I do a lot of writing in bed here. I am not ashamed. Edith Wharton wrote in bed too. She probably had maids to bring her lunch.]

One could go out to eat, but it’s pretty expensive in [location redacted]. One could walk to the grocery store and prepare a proper meal, but usually I just want to keep writing; or I have just finished writing and I’m too lazy/tired/worn out to shop for real.

This is how I found myself in the kitchen last night making writer’s hash. In the spirit of Maternal Clause, I feel I must inform you that you can make hash with any kind of cooked or roasted vegetable. Hash with beets is called red flannel hash and it is delicious. Fish is delicious in hash: salmon (smoked or otherwise), or some leftover fish. Bacon is delicious in hash, as is ham. Beef is traditional. But sometimes all you have is half an onion, a potato, and eggs.

Writer’s Hash, serves 1

  1. Slice an onion into wee tiny pieces. I cut off the rotten parts of the onion and it was still delicious and I lived to tell the tale. If you want to be fancy, you can add garlic at this point as well.
  2. Fry the onion for a few minutes in butter, olive oil, or whatever one of the former residents left behind that is suitable for frying onions. Pause to reflect that frying onions smell delicious and make it seem like you are cooking for real.
  3. Peel and dice the potato. You should have done this before you started frying onions.
  4. Add diced potato to yummy-smelling onions and stir at medium to low heat. This is a good time to pour a beer. You’ll be in front of the stove for a little bit because the potatoes have to cook all the way through. Reflect upon your writing.
  5. Rifle through the cabinets to find appropriate spices. Salt, pepper, and cayenne are near-essential. I added some oregano too. But you could also go for cumin or cajun seasoning mix or parsley or whatever.
  6. Wait 10 or 20 minutes (at that point a bunch of other writers were in the kitchen and I was talking too much to pay attention to the time) until the potatoes are cooked through. Stir often. Cover the pan and it will cook faster.
  7. Turn up the heat, scrape the onion/potato mixture to one side, and add one or two eggs. Cook until eggs are at desired state of doneness.
  8. Devour. Do your dishes. Other people have to work in this kitchen. Go back and get writing done.

What are your favorite easy dishes?




6 responses to “You Should Be Writing

  1. The great Walker Percy is reputed to have written in bed. Writing in bed usually means using a legal pad, skipping lines (for later editing, re-writing), and most importantly using a pencil. The pencil has the most important invention in the history of Man–the ability to erase errors, which ought to be done only to words you’d be embarrassed to read again. Rather than erase you can put a line through words. Also, writing in bed with pencil and paper gives you a tactile sensation and slows you down so that you’re more careful in your choice of words. The only other things you need are a good prescriptive dictionary and Follett’s and Garner’s MODERN AMERICAN USAGE books. Power naps are good in that your subconscious can work.

  2. I love the legal pad, but have a complex relationship with the pencil. Beautiful, useful, but hard to read. I am not against crossing out, and find that pens work much better, in that they stand out more when it’s time for me to type again.

    I do turn to the literal page because I get tired of the screen. As for prescriptive, I tend toward the descriptive. And in my unresearched but professionally motivated (and possibly ignorant) opinion, “Modern American Usage” has nothing on Chicago.

  3. I’m with Downith. It’s all about the freezer. The most effective productivity booster I have is The Box of Sandwiches. Every couple weeks, I turn a loaf of bread, an absurd amount of butter, and some sliced ham and cheese into a bunch of individually wrapped sandwiches. You grab one in the morning, it’s thawed by lunchtime, and you barely have to stop working at all.

    Of course, your way sounds a lot more civilized.

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