We had a meeting of the…

We had a meeting of the DesiLit writing workshop yesterday -- it was just me and Devi and Raj again; the group has gotten small enough that I think for now, it's just going to be absorbed into the new workshop. I'm a little sad about that, but I can't force it -- when there are enough desi writers in Chicago that really they want a workshop, we'll be there, waiting to give them one. It was still good meeting yesterday. We talked a fair bit about Raj's sprawling memoir, and discussed the difference between autobiography and memoir. Premise for discussion -- you only get to write a comprehensive autobiography if you're already famous for some other reason. (There are a few exceptions, but still.) Also, mostly if you've lived most of your life. Whereas a memoir, like Delany's Motion of Light on Water, can be written at any point, and just cover a short period of time. Memoir is generally more focused on a particular aspect of your life (struggle with cancer, years in a boy's school in India, coming out process, etc.), whereas autobiography tries to encompass everything important about who you are. What do you think? Is that a useful/accurate distinction?

It felt particular apropos because I'd managed to get a little writing done on the travelogue/memoir earlier in the day. I'm still having trouble finding structured writing time. For example, yesterday, Kev said that he could be woken at 10. I had to be back at 3 for the start of workshop. In theory, five hours of writing time, right? But it ended up being 1 hr. How?

  • 10:00 - wake Kevin, find out he had a terrible time getting to sleep last night; let him go back to sleep
  • 11:00 - wake Kevin again; he gets up, gets dressed, gets baby; I eat lunch, get dressed
  • 12:00 - leave the house finally, but have to run two errands (returning things to Container Store, picking up something else)
  • 12:45 - head to Borders to work in cafe, but get waylaid by Carter's store right next door, remembering that Kavi is desperately trying to crawl right now, which means that she needs to wear leggings for comfort and warmth, and all of hers are in the laundry; pick up two more pairs for $10; good deal
  • 1:00 - finally get to Borders, get some carrot cake (bad!), sit down and open computer and start writing
  • 2:00 - realize that I still need to read Raj's story before workshop, and I need net access to download a copy, so pack up and head home
  • 2:20 - get home, try to read Raj's story, but Kavi is in a very unhappy mood, and so I try to comfort her, reading in between hugs
  • 3:00 - just barely manage to finish reading Raj's story before workshop
And that's how five hours of work turned into one. If I'd stayed at home, maybe I would have gotten more writing done, but a) the errands wouldn't have gotten done, and b) I would've had a hard time ignoring an unhappy Kavya and focusing on work. So I don't know. But I really do need to find better ways to write.

That said, I made some good progress on the nonfiction book in that hour, adding in an important section talking about why I still have a Sri Lankan passport and citizenship. And workshop was interesting too -- they kind of missed the ending of my story, so I definitely need to make it clearer. And they didn't really tell me what to do with my story overall, and I'm still not certain which of the two options for it I should follow. (One of which is funnier, but slighter and more conventional. The other is more interesting to me, but would be more work to do well, and might end up incomprehensible to a lot of my readers. Hmm....) But they seemed to like it enough that it's worth working on more. That pleases me, at any rate.

In the evening, Kevin did finally get started on unpacking his clothes -- he would have gotten farther, but Kavya was definitely on the demanding side yesterday. And I made dinner -- a Moroccan-style lamb stew with lemon and figs, served over a bed of pistachio couscous. It was good, but a little over-lemony; I think I should have actually made the effort to get sweet Meyer lemons instead of using standard ones. And it could have used a little more fig. But overall, yummy. I wasn't sure what kind of green vegetable would have been good with that, and ended up not making one, despite our new resolution to try to eat more green veggies. Any thoughts? Maybe I should've made tabouleh, but that seemed like a lot of work, and I think that has grains in it too, right? So it'd be a bit repetitive...

3 thoughts on “We had a meeting of the…”

  1. I usually serve a spinach couscous with lamb stew, often doused with a bit of olive oil and rice vinegar. You are correct in that tabbouleh takes time, but I sometimes make it as the main course for a vegetarian meal, just adding chick peas with garlic to pump up the protein and fiber.

  2. Mary Anne Mohanraj

    Hmm…I don’t think I’ve heard of spinach couscous, but that suonds like a great option — thanks! Will try it next time…

  3. I think any simple veg would have worke, particularly something like green beans, which would play nicely with the lemon in the lamb.

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