A confession. I never was comfortable with the original title of this blog – “Icing and Ink.” It was close to what I wanted, but it wasn't quite right. I chose it because I knew that I was going to post about writing and books -- "Ink.” I also thought I would write about baked goods – “Icing.” And, to me, these two are related. I remember eating an almond pastry in Marseilles, and it was a revelation. There was a thin thread of chocolate in the middle. Not a chunk. Not chips. Just a thread. And I realized, "That's art." When I got back to the States and saw a "chocolate croissant" with huge blobs of chocolate pushing out each end advertising its presence, I thought, "That's not art. That's sales."
Baked goods have often seemed to me to be both a literal and metaphorical artistic practice. I’m not the only one who feels this way. The writer Dawn Powell once suggested the plots of her novels were simply the flour keeping the whole together, a delivery system for the raisins and sugar. And there are similar therapeutic qualities to writing, art-making, and baking. A recent BBC article suggested baking combats depression: “Can Baking Make You Happier?”
However, the blog title seemed too cute and not particularly informative. As it became clear this blog might be a long-term project, I needed one that I liked better. (It’s always bothered me that Charles Schulz disliked the title “Peanuts.” He found it “"totally ridiculous” and felt it had “no meaning.” He had originally called the strip “Little Folks,” but his syndicate changed it.)
So, for those who haven't noticed already, I've retitled this blog. It will continue to do what it does; consider issues involved in writing, teaching, reading, etc. There probably will even be entries on donuts and cookies. The content won’t change because I’m interested in the process of making things, but the title recognizes that attention takes practice. It’s an activity that requires focus and active commitment. Writing this blog is one way that I encourage/force/get myself to do it.