When my husband goes away to work, I stop eating. You see, he works in the Arctic, two weeks on, two weeks off. When he’s home, I do nothing but cook. We eat like kings: a full English breakfast, chicken sandwiches for lunch, steak for dinner. But when he leaves for his two weeks away, that’s it for me. Why? Because it all just seems like such a huge waste of time. I mean, you add up all the hours spent preparing, cooking, eating and cleaning up from meals. Life revolves around eating, drinking, putting the kettle on, making endless cups of tea; and all those cups have to be washed up.
I don’t mean to imply that I don’t eat at all. Of course I eat, but in a very minimal fashion, and I cook as little as I can get away with. For example, today for breakfast I had two slices of bread and jam. For lunch I had a piece of (already made) banana bread. For dinner I had a cold chicken breast leftover from the previous night’s dinner, and a slice of apple pie. Lovely! And no cooking involved. Tomorrow I may have to (grudgingly) cook some sausages, some to eat and some to be cold leftovers for another no-prep, no-cook meal. And what do I do with all this freed-up time? I write! I mean, seriously: why eat when you can write? Why chop carrots, when you could dash off a few chapters of your latest novel?
So, how many words have I written since freeing myself from the tedium of mealtime? How many do you think? Seriously? Really? I’ll tell you: none. Not one single solitary word. Oh, I’ve done things. I’ve walked around the garden. I’ve picked apples. I’ve googled recipes for apple jelly. I’ve updated my Facebook page. I’ve written this blog. But actual, bona fide writing? Zilch, my friends, and I’ll tell you why: because this whole not eating thing is an excuse. Sure, it frees up a lot of my time, but instead of writing, I find I’m frittering the time away on anything but writing. It’s like Chris Baty, who founded Nanowrimo, says: a writer needs a deadline. A writer needs to be kicked up the ass in order to actually get anything down on paper. A writer needs to be forced into a state of panic before he’ll get down to the task at hand. Let him think he’s got all the time in the world, and he’ll never begin; but tell him he has to have his novel finished by next Monday lunchtime, and he’ll start typing like a mental case.
So, instead of skipping proper nutrition, I should really be taking the time to eat properly, and then sit down to write my bestseller. If only someone would give me a deadline!
You know what? I’m hungry.