Tides & Curly Fries

This summer I ate curly fries almost every single day.

I smelled like kid sweat and mod podge.

I also had barely any time to be alone and write extensively…mostly anything I was able to write was written on a dirty napkin or a band-aid wrapper or my hand. I blame it on the kiddos that I spent the summer with, but honestly I think summer was generally quite low-tide creatively.

One sticky day in July, while I was walking the trails at my summer camp after dinner, I realized how damn tired I was of consuming curly fries. Now, I love curly fries, and if I were on my deathbed I’d probably request to be hooked up to an IV filled with Arby’s special sauce. However, there was not a single meal that didn’t involve them…the entire summer.

I don’t necessarily believe that the creativity within us dies, yet I do think it submerges and then resurfaces in different seasons. Maybe we need a respite from the hard work of creating in order to reevaluate why we create in the first place. After a few months away from frantically scribbling in my notebook and generating material any time my hands were empty, I had some time to think about the purpose in what I do.

When I write to keep busy or for the sole purpose of submission, my finished product tends to fall short. It may not be bad, per say, but I always felt that any piece I wrote without the “right” motives just didn’t seem genuine. Rather, it became alien to me, warranting the “Did I really write that?” response.  Over the summer, I spent some time reflecting on the purpose in crafting something. I don’t want to produce things cheaply for the sake of creating something tepid or pretty, I want it to be dynamic and alive with meaning and real. In order to do this, I need time and inspiration.

Even if writing was replaced by the consumption of fifteen pounds of curly fries this summer, I think I’ve learned to be okay with the slower months. They allow me to regain the stability I need to truly understand the purpose in what I do and why. In low tides, I’ve learned to be reflective instead of discouraged.

I know I’ll always come back to writing, rather, it’ll always come back to me–and the same may (unfortunately) go for curly fries.

My question for you: how do you recharge when you become frustrated or burned out by the process of writing? How do you find purpose in what you do?

I’m excited to learn from all of you this semester! 🙂



One Reply to “Tides & Curly Fries”

  1. Hi Grace,

    I loved reading your post, especially because I relate strongly. I, too, was a camp counselor this summer, a demanding position that leaves little time for writing and self-reflection. What I did find, though, that the little time I did get to write or contemplate was especially productive, because I was inspired by the beautiful place around me and the energy of the kids.

    Did I write a whole bunch? No, but when I did, I think what I wrote was more important. In the same way that you feel about deadlines and prompted writing, writing to “turn something in” can be really limiting, so writing for me over the summer was very liberating. Even just thinking about poems, too, was free from that academic pressure.

    I think places like summer camp, or the times that we take a break from writing, are important for our mindset and productivity as artists. What will we have to write about if we, you know, don’t live a little? Taking breaks makes us feel less like a poet-sputtering machine. Or, taking a break from the academic pressure doesn’t even have to be a true break. For example, before I went to camp I’d roam NYC and bring a tiny notebook for when I’d be on the subway or had a sudden spurt of inspiration. I did the same during some times off at my camp. The smallness of the notebook makes writing less cumbersome, and makes it feel more recreational.

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