While everyone else seems to be “Netflix and chilling”, I have just been watching Netflix recently. And somewhere between binge watching Master of None and Chef’s Table I had a yearning to make pasta for the first time.
The recipes all looked so easy. Put flour, salt, olive oil, and egg yolks into a bowl. Mix and knead into a dough. Flatten, fold, and slice the dough into ribbons. Throw the pasta into salted, boiling water for two minutes. Serve with marinara sauce and parmesan cheese grated on top.
Each step in the process looked and felt beautiful. The egg whites separated smoothly from the yolks like a precious stone being cleaned of mud. The dough was almost golden in color. The rolled sheets were so thin I could see my fingers through them. The marinara sauce was a vibrant red with a faint aroma of garlic.
And then I tasted the dish.
The pasta was good.
Only good, not great. I thought it would be so much more. And then the existentialism set in. Nobody’s favorite meal is mediocre pasta. Nobody promotes mediocre pasta. Nobody starts a lifelong relationship with mediocre pasta! I am drowning in a sea of weak marinara sauce and even weaker metaphors.
Fortunately, the words of Ira Glass helped stop the self-doubt:
Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
Even if the difference is only marginal, my second plate of pasta is going to be better than my first. I just have to keep working to improve.
And then I remembered I have not updated my blog in months.