Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Pretzel Story

I recently read an article about pretzels in the New York Times that mentions a number of bakeries in New York City where one can buy fresh baked soft pretzels and a wonderful bakery in Northampton, MA called Bakery Normand. I have been a fan of good bread for a long time and I often enjoyed Normand's pretzel rolls among other treats in their shop when I lived in the small city in western Massachusetts. I like all kinds of breads and pastries and have baked some of my own in the past. I even wrote a book about a baker.

The NYT pretzel piece described the style of pretzels that come from the Baden-Württemberg region in Germany where I grew up in this way: "the pretzels are known for their fat 'bellies' and skinny, intertwined arms." My pretzel story, which also includes a little pretzel history, is called Walter the Baker. The story is based on the tale of how the pretzel was invented, which was told to me by my Grandmother when I was a boy. But I truly had an uncle named Walter who was a baker and who baked, along with all kinds of bread, cookies, cakes and rolls; pretzels!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Creative Crisis

Writer's block or any kind of "creative crisis" is part of being creative; it will never disappear. I have suffered from this "creative crisis" many times, and this is what I do.

I always start working on a book with my best intentions, but then, sometimes I encounter unsurmountable mental resistance. Early in my career I despaired when this occurred, but later on I discovered how to overcome this anguish.

The first step is simply to give in. I’d tell myself that, "Yes, it is true that I am not talented, that I cannot do it, that my brain has died and my sense of color is off."

After sleepless nights, and days of raving against my destiny, I may call my editor and tell her that I have “lost it” and will never do a book again. I surrender to my fate. And that is exactly the point where recovery happens and creativity starts to flow again!

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Merit of the State of Baden-Württemberg

This spring, I was very honored to learn that I was one of 23 recipients to be awarded the Merit of the State of Baden-Württemberg in Germany. On May 8, my sister Christa accepted this award on my behalf from the Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg which is the state in Germany where I lived as a child in the city of Stuttgart. The ceremony was held at the beautiful Ludwigsburg Schloss (castle) in a suite at the castle called "Order Saal", which means literally "Medal suite".

Here is Christa at the award ceremony earlier this month. The award is the highest medal for outstanding services in "political, social, cultural and economic fields" from the minister of the state of Wuerttemberg. I was truly humbled to receive this award and I would have very much liked to have been there in person. I am delighted by these photos.