Recently, someone I follow on twitter observed they do not include their characters eating at all in their writing. This made me think of my own writing and made me think of my old blog, Popcorn: More Than Just A Minor Detail.
Sometimes in books, details are just details. Blue curtains could just happen to be blue and the meaning we take from these details are often what we ourselves, as readers, read into the books. But, sometimes, as authors we intend these details to carry more weight.
I can't say I always intend for food to be important to the characters and my books, but food tends to be very important to me. A lot of this is family traditions, like Prime Rib, Yorkshire Pudding, and Green Beans Amadine on Christmas Eve and Chinese Food on Christmas. Some of this could also be influenced by my Jewish background, like Latkas on Hanukkah or Matzoh on Passover. Outside of traditions and holidays, it's the slice and bake cookie dough or mom's mac and cheese.
It's no wonder then that food shows up frequently in my writing, whether it's the popcorn in Society's Foundlings, baking birthday butter biscuits in The Butter Thief, growing tomatoes in Ben's Little Tomato, imagining different uses of pumpkins in Peggy's Little Pumpkin, or drinking hot chocolate in The Memory Tree.
There's traditions, memories, and connection tied to the food in The Butter Thief, Ben's Little Tomato, Peggy's Little Pumpkin, and The Memory Tree. In Society's Foundlings, popcorn is lack of money and resources. It is a dividing line, the feeling of being an outsider, a reminder of all the goals and dreams that are still out of reach, friendship, and feelings of belonging and security depending on the character.
In an upcoming WIP, food is always a source of tension between siblings. There's frustration in lack of resources, but also frustration in what has and has not changed from the past. There is still that feeling of belonging or exclusion.
What does food mean to you? How do you use food in your own writing?
This blog was technically written months ago, but only just found it's way to this site.
It's 1:14. I shouldn't be up late. I have two new, big ventures that fulfill more dreams than I could possibly explain. I need to get up before noon. There's things to do, general life to live. But, I can't stop clicking on Button Poetry links on Youtube.
It started with things I couldn't possibly know. Things I will never experience. Searching for a hint of understanding because spoken word poetry can sometimes move a heart ore than anything else. If a picture is worth a million words, spoken word poetry is worth an infinite amount.
What this late night foraging turned into was stumbling on ones that hit a little too close to home. And like a sadist, I continued to watch. Searching once more for that hint of understanding. To not feel so alone in my loneliness, to not feel so insane in my insanity.
I have a life to live come morning. I should go to sleep, instead of haunting my personal skeletons at some god forsaken hour. But, sometimes we need that understanding more. Sometimes we need the power of words. Maybe just another poem.
Home and belonging is a common theme in my books. Whether it's the dragon from A Dragon's Treasure in A Horde of Dragons. or it's Math from Society's Foundlings wondering why what feels like home can't be where he rests his head at night.
For the dragon, belonging is a chain around his neck until a friend tells him, "There's a difference between being someone's treasure and being treasured by someone." For Math, home transforms from a brick-stepped, light-flickering sanctuary where no one can trespass to a hand that catches you when you fall.
Home, what it is and how we define it, changes as we do. It doesn't always look the same, but there are common elements. As Billy Joel sings, "Home is just another word for you." One constant is the people. Those you've known all your life who become more than just family, and communities, no matter how big or small, who become more than just friends. These Shadows, as I like to call them, like Shadow from The Treasure of Ravenwood. Those bosom friends and kindred spirits as Anne of Green Gables called it.
For Jenna from Solving for X it was the memories within the place or the person. The plaid blanket where she and Erik watched fireworks. It was the line of photos. For Erik, it was the smell of salt water and the old basketball courts.
Sometimes home is in the traditions. Mom's coffee in the mornings. Jenna's painting. Decorating for the holidays or Friday night dinners with the grandparents.
And, home can be a place. Where love abounds and there lies a type of safety one can only find in those four walls.
Home for me is a lot of things. It is paint and pencils, notebooks and sketchpads. It is an orange, furry hug. It is a steaming cup of tea.
It is laughter and kisses goodnight by a porch light and under stars. It is a hand on my knee, fingers that tickle mercilessly, and his hat that I wear like a crown.
It is smiles and shared dreams and a hand to hold and a hug I've known since birth. It is my mom. It is a Christmas tree decorated the day after the turkey is cooked. It's dancing and singing Ten Minutes Ago from Roger and Hammerstein's Cinderella. It's Chinese Food for Christmas. It's stories I now know by heart.
It's a neighbor who I count as family. A blessing in the form of fabulousness. Another Pheonix- I am so fortunate to be surrounded by so many!
My Fairy Godmother! Filled with as much wisdom as magic. Who could touch dust and turn it to gold. Whose sparkle always makes the day brighter.
It is a goddamn masterpiece. A modge podge worth of 21 years. Home is where I rest my head at night.
I think Sally Fingerette said it best, "Home is where the heart is. No matter how the heart lives. In your heart where love is, that's where you've got to make yourself a home."
What do you consider home?
Gathering dust in the depths of my mind, random thoughts dusted off and put out there for the world to see...