Let's Talk with Nancy J. Cohen

Let’s Talk with Nancy J Cohen

January 21, 2016


Rediscovering Your Muse
By Nancy J Cohen

pubpinkRecently I’ve begun sorting my recipe clippings into categories. This will make things easier when I want to find a meal to make. For example, instead of hunting through my pile of papers for a poultry main dish, I can pick the envelope labeled “Chicken” and search through those directly. Right now, my recipes are scattered among two binders, a recipe box, and a folding file. No, I’m not ready to dump them all in the trash and use Pinterest like my daughter. I am old-school, preferring recipes from my cookbook collection or from the myriad of clippings I’ve gleaned from cooking magazines.

Along the way, I’m discarding recipes I’ll never make, finding some favorites I’d forgotten, and rediscovering some of my mother’s recipes. It’s like uncovering hidden treasure to find these gems. And it made me think about my writing. Hidden away in my files are early poems and stories, plot ideas, and research notes.

Is it possible to rekindle the muse by pouring through this old material? Could I get excited about an article I’d filed that might provide fodder for a book? Could an earlier short story prompt an idea for a novel? As authors, we have these treasures buried among our volumes of notes and files. Maybe we should make time to look through them. We could discard the detritus that should never see the light of day or that no longer inspires us. But we might also find a jewel that sparks a new idea and reignites our enthusiasm. This is especially important if you’re approaching burn-out from too many years of riding the promotional train and steady productivity. It might be time to step back, review what came before, and become reinspired. We began writing stories because we’re dreamers. Can we restart the process as a seasoned author?

So let’s all take a day off and look through our dusty manuscripts, notes and clippings. If you wish, sort through old photographs, recipes and diaries. Get rid of those items that serve no current value. Set aside the ones that make you lift your eyebrows in surprise and joy. Think about the “what if” possibilities with your discoveries. Seek to rekindle the inner storyteller and to regain meaning in your work.

Is there a particular collection of items calling for your attention?

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Posted in Let's Talk, with Nancy J. Cohen • Tags: , , , , , , |  21 Comments


21 thoughts on “Let’s Talk with Nancy J Cohen

  1. I had a huge box of clipped recipes that never came along when we moved. Of course, there are 1 or 2 I remember making and can’t find in my current, streamlined files (I’m not going to live long enough to cook even half the dishes I have recipes for, even after the culling), but I do wish I’d taken a little more time to go through them rather than dumping the box.

  2. Good idea. My recipes are scattered everywhere. It would be easier if I had a better system.

    1. Elaine, it is SO much easier to find a dish now that I’ve separated the categories into manila envelopes. My husband said he wants a tuna recipe for tonight. So I got out my Seafood folder. Easy peasy.

  3. I finally separated out all of the recipes I had handwritten by my mother and grandmothers, all three deceased now. I’m thinking of copying and printing them for my kids and grandkids, which will be quite a project given all three were great and prolific recipe cooks. I’ve had the rest categorized for a couple of years now, and I only keep favorites or “tried and true” recipes now. My adventurous days of trying new recipes are about over so I stick to those I know I and my family will love…plus, I can make them up by heart almost now! Thanks for sharing, Nancy. jdh2690@gmail.com

    1. Those recipes handed down through the generations are treasures. Yes, you should make fresh copies before they are lost. Maybe put them together into a “My Heritage” Recipe book.

  4. I love cookbooks! But I hate cooking. Alas. But since we are putting down hardwood, which means taking down all the bookcases in the living room and my office, I am thinking the next thing I’ll be going through will be the thousand or so books. Should be fun!

  5. Like you, I’ve collected recipes under various filing systems. For my wedding shower, a friend decoupaged a recipe box for me and everyone who attended brought filled-out 3×5″ recipe cards. I will never throw away anything from that box because those are so personal. But… years go by, diets change. We seem to get stuck in ruts with what we eat, a lot of which is determined by the diet fad de jour. I’m not the best cook, so I hang on to recipes that even I can’t mangle. As for old manuscripts, I recently dug one up, did major surgery, and it’s coming out next month as a novella. I’m happy to have the release, but it was a very humbling process!

  6. I have a three-ring binder of clipped recipes, many of which I use on a fairly regular basis. My sister gave me a recipe organizer a few years ago, but it still requires 4×6, so I only moved over the “smaller” copies.

  7. I no longer cook – hubby took that over more than 25 years ago :). But I do still collect recipe clippings and recipe books. AND I have a box of my Mother’s recipes. Think I might need to do something like this. But, to be honest, probably never will…….

  8. Five women, including myself, got together and gathered recipes from people on our old neighborhood Facebook pages. We just finished selling out our second printing. Our profits have gone to many worthwhile charities, with more to come…wonderful experience.

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