I’ve been writing professionally since the age of seventeen during my freshman year at uni when I got a gig writing spiels for EDTV 36, the distance education channel that was, at the time, operating from my alma mater, The Philippine Women’s University – Manila. Since then, I’ve had a somewhat checkered career in advertising, public relations, and that murky field known as corporate research and white-paper writing. But what I’ve always wanted to do ever since I was in high school is write stories and novels – and that is something that I’ve finally been doing of late.
People ask me if writers follow any special diets during their most creative periods. Speaking as a twenty-year veteran of the field, however, I regret to say that no writer I know personally (myself included) follows a diet. In fact, for most of us, the crunch and grind of writing makes us lose our appetites. It is after the writing is done – say, you’ve handed the white-paper over to the boss, you’ve turned over the draft to the creative team, or you’ve gone and emailed/mailed your manuscript to a publisher – that we can eat and the food we pounce upon isn’t always the healthy sort. In fact, nine times out of ten, a writer who has put down his or her pen will most likely go out for comfort food.
In my case, it almost always involves a burger run. Almost as soon as my email program tells me that the document’s been sent out, I find myself bolting to the nearest burger joint for a sarnie-soda-and-fries fix. Burger King is my heavyweight go-to-joint in most cases: the Angus Steakhouse Burger has both heft and beefy oomph to it – and Lord only knows how I need all that protein and all those amino acids to replenish my spent brain cells. The fact that it has crunchy fried onions wodged in between the beef patty and the veg adds to its appeal. Fries on the side? Yes, please! There is just something about salty, crunchy, sometimes soggy, fried potato sticks that I find rejuvenating for some odd reason.
On really bad days, however, I end up at Jollibee where I order the Ultimate Burger Steak - a 1/3 pound beef patty on garlic rice served with a mound of crunchy fries, a fried egg, and generous lashings of mushroom gravy. Think of it as poutine on steroids, really. I find it a comforting meal on days when people are being ornery and nothing seems to be going right.
And there are the days when my mind doesn’t seem to work and I find myself worrying if I can finish whatever it is I’m writing or if I even make it to my deadlines. Those are the days when I have to stop and take deep, fortifying breaths; the days when I find that either coffee or hot chocolate is my only friend in the world and I just want to quit the human race. These are my sundae and fries days, the times when I withdraw from the rest of humanity to try and get my thoughts and words back in sync.
Thank God that salted caramel sundaes are now available at my local McDonald’s! The combination of sweet caramel made punchy by a sharp hit of salt over smooth vanilla ice cream is a real treat and soothes frazzled nerves like few other foods can. Dipping the fries in this ambrosial slurry is a must; the bland, starchy flavor of the potato works so beautifully with the vanilla and caramel. Yes, I know it’s very bad for the hips and the rest of me, but it gets things done!
Yes, I run the risk of becoming plumper than the proverbial partridge, but it helps me get things done – and then some. And as I write an ending for my current project, I know that this particular end is but a herald for a new story to be told…