We all have some things we thought we’d never do, and this week I’m doing two of them.
They’re hardly earth-shattering. The first one is that I thought I’d never get enough pesto in a summer. I’m giving my basil a weekly trim now, just to keep it from flowering, and each time I get enough to make pesto for at least three meals, and usually more. I bought four plants this spring, planted them in a honkin’ big pot and kept them watered. I even bought some cool blown-glass watering bulbs (from Canadian Tire) to make sure the basil was watered while I was at Wild Ginger. My reward is as much pesto as I want. Hooray!
The second thing is that I thought I’d never have occasion to quote Stephen King. I have nothing against Stephen King; I just don’t care for his writing. That’s taste. I’ve heard “On Writing” recommended, and I may have to read it. In the meantime, he’s made a pithy comment on two of the most popular young-adult series, Harry Potter and Twilight. Here’s what he had to say:
“Harry Potter is about confronting fear, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight” is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”
When I read that I thought “Wow! He’s hit it!” Yes, I read the Twilight series, although I really skimmed most of it. While I still do remember what it was like to be a teenager and have an enormous passion for someone, you couldn’t pay me enough to go back there. Nope, not even if I got the seventeen-year-old body back.
I’ve pinned that quote on my office wall. When I finish with The Swan Harp, my next project is a rewrite on Under the Skin, a paranormal-sorta-romance. What I want to keep in mind when I’m writing is that I’d like my protagonists to deal with larger issues than a date for the prom or boyfriend/girlfriend. I’d like them to be true to themselves and change because they see that something in them needs to change.
The best stories deal with archetypes of person and action, and are often tales in which the protagonist has gone against the norm of behaviour, doing something that others around him or her don’t do, and doing it because she or he believes it is right. In the fairy tale “Frau Holle”, the first daughter who took the bread from the oven and shook the apple tree did it to help. It is her own nature that ultimately leads to her reward.
Of course, the same can be said for both “Harry Potter” and “Twilight”. Harry defeats his enemy precisely because of who he is. Yes, he has allies, who love him for his own nature. Bella Swan, on the other hand, bends heaven and earth in an ultimate abandonment of herself – her humanity, her friends and family, her future – for a boy without real principle. (Edward refuses at first to change Bella because it would destroy her soul, but finally does it.)
Both Harry and Bella get their rewards. Harry gets to grow up and have a normal wizarding life. Bella gets to be a moody teenager forever with her moody teenaged husband. I suppose “reward” is a subjective thing.
I know which model I want to follow. Thanks, Mr. King, for setting it out so clearly.
Any time you want to drop by, I’ll make you pesto.
Basil leaves (say a couple of cups, packed down)
Garlic (four or five cloves, more to taste). I’d suggest grating it.
Almonds, split and toasted
Grated cheese (most people prefer parmesan – any grated cheese will work nicely)
Put the basil leaves in a blender or food processor and whirr them on high speed. Stop frequently to push unchopped leaves down. Put in the grated garlic and a teaspoon of salt, add a little olive oil.
Be patient – eventually it will start to act like a liquid. You can add a bit more olive oil if you like.
I find this usually take 10-15 minutes.
Serve over pasta with grated cheese and toasted almonds. Refrigerates nicely.