The food: eggs bacon benedict
Everything that those who are creatively inclined see, do, hear or feel is potential material, a possible source of inspiration. That’s one of the themes of Coco Before Chanel, the French film about the early life of the fashion designer, and it’s what award-winning novelist Miriam Toews said recently when she spoke at the special IFOA edition of the Humber Writers’ Circle that I hosted.
The ‘everything is material’ line is an excuse I give too, to explain why I sometimes interrogate interesting people I meet, and why I blog about food when I should be working on my new novel. It’s not just a line – in the same way that Coco Chanel was inspired by the nuns’ habits in the orphanage where she grew up, and Miriam Toews carries around notebooks in which she records scraps of dialogue that she might use later in her fiction, I never know when a random anecdote from someone else’s life, or a meal I’ve eaten, might find its way into a story I write.
Take the brunch I had recently at Jane’s on the Common in Halifax (I saw the Coco Avant Chanel movie on the plane ride out) when I was there visiting my son, a student at Dalhousie University. I can’t promise that the delicious eggs bacon benedict on biscuits that I ate at Jane’s will show up in my published work someday, or that the rich, creamy seafood chowder and delightful smoked salmon with latkes that was also served by friendly wait staff in a warmly decorated space will, either.
I can promise that everything really is material when you’re a writer, including good brunch food.