Thoughts on BroccoliI have long since felt that I’d lost my broccoli. I just didn’t know it. Or rather, I didn’tknow how. I didn’t have the words. ‘Lost.’ Yes, I had that. But ‘broccoli’ didn’t meanwhat it means now, which is everything. I’ll explain.For some time I’ve been reading a book on writing (I pick up armfuls of these---I can’tresist---at practically every used and new book store I walk into) called “Bird by Bird,” by Anne Lamott. This particular book---subtitled “some instructions on writing andlife”---was recommended by a fellow writer and my oldest friend, Steven Blum (his blogis refreshing, funny, often serious, and always a joy to read).I trolled through the book stacks at Elliott Bay (Seattle’s famed bookshop), and studiedthe “staff picks” wall (which I wouldn’t trust at just any book store, but adore at this one).I was looking for serious inspiration. And humor. Steven handed me Lamott’s book. “Is itgood?” I asked. “Yes, she’s a lovely writer,” he said.It wasn’t the most praise I’d ever heard him give a writer---or anything, for that matter--- but often times the things we (idealists, artists, writers---insert self identifier here) praiseone day, we condemn the next. It’s a casualty of the roller-coaster enthusiasm that comeswith being creative, I suppose. Nevertheless, I purchased Lamott’s book and actually read it, one of three or four titles Irotated between (I can never read just one book at a time).A few weeks ago I came across a chapter entitled “Broccoli.” The whole book, despitewhat Lamott would want you to think when first picking it up, is a beautifully writtenantidote for the writer’s condition---whether it is writer’s block, lack of artistic self-esteem, fear of failure, any manner of anxiety, or guilt, or overbearing criticism from---gasp---your mother, or some irresponsibly concocted offspring of all of the above. Thewhole manuscript makes you feel less alone as a writer and an artist. And while the book in its entirety appeals to me, the chapter “Broccoli” speaks to my exact feelings of why,as a writer, I have strayed so far from what I am convinced I want for myself.Lamott cites a quote from a Mel Brooks sketch in which a psychiatrist advises his patientto, “Listen to your broccoli, and your broccoli will tell you how to eat it.” Regardless of the skepticism of her students, she says, this really does apply to life (writing, artistic,real and otherwise).What Anne meant, is that the broccoli represents that little writer, or artist, or small voiceinside of you that picks out prosaic gems from the blather of overheard conversation you pick up on any given day, or momentary glimpses of clarity you get, and inspires you to jot them down, and maybe one day, if you’re lucky, work them into some greater story or piece of art that satisfies and means something to you.