For the past few weeks I have been embarking upon a creative journey in the hopes that it will make me a better writer and a better person. I’ve struggled a LOT in the past year with writing. I sit daily and stare at the screen (or worse, at Netflix) and end each day feeling frustrated that I haven’t accomplished anything. It’s incredibly irritating when nothing stands in your way but yourself. It’s even worse if you’ve identified the problem and yet still can’t seem to manage to get out of the way.
For Christmas my brother- and sister-in-law gave me a book called The Artist’s Way. I had never heard of it and probably looked very confused after it had been unwrapped, but they explained that it was a sort of twelve step program for blocked creative people. It teaches affirmation, acceptance and takes a spiritual path toward creativity. After twelve weeks the participant is supposed to have removed their blocks and approached their creative nature from a new and vital direction. Nothing else has worked–not strict scheduling, nagging, or even accountability toward others–so I figured something completely new couldn’t hurt.
The Artist’s Way offers many exercises to forward creativity, but it only has two primary tools: the Morning Pages and the Artist’s Date. The Morning Pages are basically just three hand-written pages every morning. A journal, if you will. The Artist’s Date is making a commitment to take two hours once a week and take your “inner artist” on a date. As it has taken me four–five?–weeks to get to the second chapter (it should have taken seven days) I’m not going to lie and say that I have seen a distinct increase in my creative ability. The Morning Pages has helped me overall emotionally, as journals are wont to do, and I have been pretty successful at sticking to them. Not so much with the Artist’s Dates. You would think it wouldn’t be hard to put aside two hours for yourself, especially if you’re me and only work part time. Not so. In over a month I have only managed one.
We are still restocking our pantry after three weeks on our migraine diet. Somehow I managed to forget butter last week (it was on the list I swear!) and yet I’d been craving cupcakes for over a month. So I scavenged the internet and decided to make this week’s Artist’s Date the solution to my problem: the butter-less cupcake.
It actually wasn’t too difficult. I found a vanilla cupcake recipe that used oil rather than butter. (I substituted in all purpose flour for the cake flour and milk and lemon juice for the buttermilk.) They came out better than expected, though I felt that there was a slight oily aftertaste. It might have been due to our oil, though. Then I made a meringue-based frosting twice, because the first recipe ended up a mess of solid sugar and crunchy egg white. I’m still not sure what I did wrong but the second recipe I found worked perfectly and tasted deliciously of marshmallow. Frosted, the cupcakes were DELICIOUS. We decided to try them the way my mom eats them (cut in half and then sandwiched, so that the frosting is in between two halves of cake) and they tasted just like a non-chemical twinkie. We ate all fifteen cupcakes in two days…and then I had a migraine both days, so clearly I need to back off from the sugar. However, in the creativity and taste departments they were a win all around!