when the muse gives you lemons…

… make soup.

I mean, what else would one do when one has a little case of "I got nothin'?" 

Why not find a rainy night in which to go to the grocery store and fill up almost more bags than you can carry while balancing an umbrella over your head walking home.  Why not make soup?

And not just one kind, make two!  Hell, you've got a stove and a slow cooker – don't be a slouch!  Embrace the avoiding!

When you have a little case of creative block it's easy to justify any avoiding tactic.  Because making three weeks' worth of work lunches ahead only frees up writing time in future, right?  And cleaning the kitchen real good afterward calms the mind.  And throwing in a load of laundry is just your way of avoiding a stint of standing-blankly-in-front-of-open-closet tomorrow morning.  And checking facebook and finding out that others like soup - well the making of the soup has become a higher calling – it's one's responsibility to share the recipes with one's friends, isn't it?

Just two days ago I stood at the front of a classroom and gently told a writer to "make your office hours" and "just show up" and "set that appointment with yourself to write."

But I truly believe this too: sometimes it's also okay to just let the well refill itself.  Sometimes your creative being is regenerated when you do another sort of creating thing.  Sometimes this other kind of creative thing looks unremarkable and even kind of ordinary.  That might be called resting a little.  Letting the vessel fill itself for a little while.

So you might as well fil it with soup.


  1. Carol September 28, 2010

    Couldn’t agree with you more *she says as she gets out the hoover*
    C x

  2. Jennifer September 28, 2010

    “Uh oh” she thinks, as she looks at the carpet around her…

  3. lisahgolden September 28, 2010

    Two pots of beans.
    The bathroom cleaner than it’s been in ages.
    Laundry done, including changing everyone’s bed linen.
    Ironing? Complete.
    House dusted, vacuumed, spots on carpet scrubbed.
    I’m right there with you.
    Today, I must get back to editing.
    I hope.

  4. Cathy September 28, 2010

    Especially on a rainy day.. getting out “A Good Day for Soup” recipe book.. will pick the one while the kitchen floor dries ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Jennifer September 28, 2010

    Cheering you on girl!

  6. Jennifer September 28, 2010

    Look forward to hearing about the resulting choice sis!

  7. kelly September 28, 2010

    I love this post. I love soup. And some days I love doing laundry . No wait, that’s a lie. But I know what you mean, sometimes we do these things to avoid the creative work that we feel we should be doing. And sometimes, it’s the other way around, the laundry must wait, the cleaning, the dinner.
    But sometimes it is good to take a break, and I find that there is always something new there, waiting, when I go back.

  8. Jennifer September 28, 2010

    Aw thanks for saying so Kelly. Yes, I must admit – it’s much more often that the dinner and the cleaning and the laundry waits. I’ve never seemed to find the happy medium. But you’re right – there is almost always something new there, waiting, when you get back. Creativity is elusive sometimes – but ever loyal.

  9. Marilyn September 28, 2010

    Creativity is a bit like a seed in that they both need time in the dark to germinate and will pop through and grow in it’s own time.

  10. Dleehcassel@cabletv.on.ca September 28, 2010

    I love homemade soup, I love colour and I love responding. I am a happy creative soup maker in living colour.

  11. Jennifer September 28, 2010

    That’s so true Marilyn. It’s always so much easier to be objective about these things when it’s not you. I get so impatient with myself.

  12. Jennifer September 28, 2010

    Well happy to meet you, fellow happy, creative soup maker! I’m glad you visited.

  13. Cathy September 28, 2010

    I ended up making Red Lentil, Potato and Lamb Sausage Soup. (know how you feel about sausage.. am sure you could substitute. Will let you know how it turned out.. smells really good! Incidentally, that cookbook I mentioned above is avail on Amazon second hand for really cheap if you are making a future book order. Very good recipes!

  14. Selma September 28, 2010

    I colour coded my spice rack yesterday….but it needed to be done. No one could find the turmeric. LOLZ. I know what you mean, Jen. Sometimes the mind needs a little time to regroup, to consider the possibility of more stories. Cooking is a good way to do that because it is also a form of creativity. I bet your soups were delicious!

  15. Jennifer September 28, 2010

    Well I do like sausage in soup. It’s the small pieces, I guess. I saw a recipe for Naan pizza with turkey sausage, onions and apples that looked to die for.
    This soup sounds great – and will check out that book! Can one have too many cookbooks?

  16. Jennifer September 28, 2010

    hahaha I like the idea of the mind regrouping. There is a balance, no doubt, between the discipline and the being kind to oneself.
    Oh, the soups are delicious!

  17. deb @ talk at the table September 29, 2010

    you know it’s bad when you resort to cleaning your kids rooms for them.
    I so hear you Jennifer

  18. The Querulous Squirrel September 29, 2010

    Balance: the action of the mind and the action of the body. Writing and soup both feed the soul.

  19. Jennifer September 29, 2010

    We all do it, don’t we Deb? ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Jennifer September 29, 2010

    Q.S. – you’re much more concise than me.

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