By Aude Lafait 

 Spices, aromas of citrus, aromatic herbs, from dawn until the stars set, to infuse my writing, my creative teaching, my nights.

I need many ingredients to reassure and encourage my germinating creativity and intuition for teaching. Intuition is indeed the most important as I know I’ll have to improvise. Sometimes everything is neatly prepared and written before the workshop starts. But there is always that day, that special day, when nothing happens the way it was meant. Many third year students are late, some won’t come at all, it’s cold, too cold and a few faces are “inside themselves”. Suddenly everything changes direction.

No more recipe or safety belt. I lift up the lid of the pot and, eyes shut I smell. Again. I breathe in deeply. Which pulse is beating in the student’s presence? Which remedy to their frustration, which flavour to meet their expectations? Which step should I take to turn them back towards writing this morning?

I’m reading Dany Laferrière, Journal d’un écrivain en pyjama, and I like this thought: “What could we say about the link between cooking and writing? Throw some disparate ingredients into hot water to give a special, unique taste. The art of seasoning food is not so far from the art of literary style. In the end, remember that being a good cook doesn’t make you a good novelist.” (p. 37)

Isn’t helping people to write similar to making them taste some raw ingredients and teaching them how to marry these ingredients together to create a unique dish?

When we start writing we have a magic list of ingredients spread out over the table in front of us from which we can pick up. But all of a sudden, as we go deeper into our story we forget about all these words and we get hooked by something else. No matter the nicely chopped vegetables or the pod of spices, our senses take us somewhere else, we leave everything on the table and the kitchen becomes a railway station. From the locomotive spring deafening jets of steam, faces drown into whiteness, some suitcases will certainly be forgotten. But finally what do we need to start to write?

Aude Lafait is teaching Writing at « Le Coin bleu », Brussels