A few years ago, in a creative writing workshop, my group was asked to write a paragraph about how to make guacamole. We had five minutes or so, the first four of which I spent wondering why my brain had suddenly turned into a lumpy pile of pudding, and the fifth of which I utilized to quickly scrawl my go-to guacamole recipe (link here, if you’re curious). The instructor then asked our neighbors to read our guacamole stories aloud. ALOUD. THE HORROR. The guacamole stories began to flow. Tales of quirky childhood loathing of all things green, grass included. Words of wisdom, lessons learned, ideas on what the heck NOT to do. A gal who sat close to me weaved together a perfect description of a grandmother hand-mashing avocado with her beautiful, wrinkled hands. I could taste the guacamole. I could see the grandma. Heck, I felt like I KNEW the grandma.
And then it was time for my story. My neighbor (who happened to be the wickedly talented Keia Mastrianni) read my story to the group. It went a little something like this: slice an avocado, mash it, add 1/3 cup diced red onion. . . I was mortified.
It took me longer than I’d like to admit to recognize that I don’t perform well creatively when put on the spot. I need time and a lot of it. As much as I’d hoped both sides of my brain would mature equally, the Type A traits run this show. Brainstorming sometimes leaves me creatively numb, a reaction that is amplified when I let any sort of self-doubt creep into the conversation. You can’t write. No one is going to read this. Did you really just type that sentence? Is “delicious” the only adjective you know? Mary, even YOU are bored right now. What are you doing? YOU’RE AN ACCOUNTANT FOR GODS SAKE.