Tiffany Baker’s Recipe For A Writing Life

A handful of islands: Belvedere, Aquidneck, Balboa, Manhattan, Corsica, Maui, the UK

Three small children: Two girls and a boy, plump in the cheeks and knees. Strong-willed but sweet when kissed.

One husband

Indecent amounts of chocolate and coffee

A view of a grassy ridge and an old gum tree

Start with the islands. Move from one to another up through your twenties. Add a graduate degree in creative writing from UC Irvine and then a PhD in Victorian literature for extra flavor, plus a smattering of tragic relationships. Move to New York to teach humanities, drink expensive cocktails, and give up on men.

Go hiking on Corsica with your mother. Meet your future husband. Move to England to be with him.

Add the first child to the mix and marinate. Return to the US, to the town where you began. Wonder what you’re doing home again. Gradually, fold in one, additional child until life is thick and hard to stir.

Decide to write a novel. Get pregnant again in the meantime, but refuse to give up writing. Finish the novel and get rejected. Repeat as necessary until the mixture becomes glue-like and unappetizing.

Finally, find the world’s most perfect agent who performs a miracle and sells your novel to the world’s best editor. Revise the novel many times, until it congeals. Do a victory dance.

Begin Book 2, having forgotten how hard writing a book is. Eat obsessive amounts of chocolate and decide what you’re doing isn’t half-bad. Gain an undisclosed amount of weight and take up jogging.

Every day, take a long walk on the grassy ridge. Stop at the gum tree, breathing deeply. Stare across the hill at your house where your children and husband are. Hope your cypress tree isn’t really dying. Hope for enough rain in the coming season. Hope for world peace. Finally, really, really hope people enjoy your book. Hope they like the second one even more.

Bon Vivant!