I’ve spent far too much time today trying to make an almond toffee recipe that’s worked perfectly before but is turning out miserably today. It’s for a dinner party I’m going to this evening and, naturally, I want it to be good. After two attempts I gave up, had a cup of tea and pondered the failure that was my cooking.
The thing about failure is that it seems to like company, so, I started pondering other failures as well, like my failure to write on this blog in the last few months, my failure to get my head around what it is I’m currently trying to write for my exegesis, and my failure to come to grips with the plot in my novel.
After all this thinking I had to get back into the kitchen because I still had to produce something to take this evening. I opened and closed cupboards, stared out the window for a while and then improvised, cobbling together something altogether different to what I had planned.
Melted dark chocolate with chopped dried figs, toasted slivers of almond, and sea salt. Simple but good.
Of course the exegesis issue isn’t going to be solved quite so easily but I’ve been comforting myself with the thought that the creative process is nothing if not about failure. If I had given up the first time I failed I would have stopped writing long ago.
As it is, sometimes I have to force myself to keep going because failure is very draining and not all the cups of tea in the world can save me on some days. But sometimes what comes after can be better than what was originally intended, and sometimes the very fact of being forced to improvise can produce something new and exciting.
Either way it is a comfort to finally realise that this is, however much I try for it not to be, a natural part of the writing process, and that maybe the simple act of beginning again is an accomplishment that should not be underestimated.
Like starting this blog again.