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02 January 2007

done. done. and done.

our fingers on the mouse/

Last night, at nearly 2:30 in the morning, I emailed all the chapters of my manuscript to my editor. Actually, I should say, "we emailed all the chapters...." The Chef, bless his soul, wanted to be part of this momentous occasion, and so he put his hand on top of mine, over the mouse on the computer, and gently pressed down on the send button with me.

It's fitting. I just could not have written this book without him.

There's something really beautiful, and clarifying, about such an enormous project as this one. Many of you have commented, in comments and emails to me, how impressed you are that I made the deadline. I guess in a way, I am too. Heavens, I wrote an entire book in four months. It's even too long! (My editor is wonderful; there will be tightening galore.) In four months, some people might not have been able to write half the required words. I wrote twice as many.

I've been thinking about this Blaise Pascal quote, incessantly:

"I have made this [letter] longer because I did not have the leisure to make it shorter."

In the midst of the last few days of editing, this one made me laugh. How many times did I tell my writing students, "It's much better to have too much to work with than too little." Everything I ever taught them, I have been putting into practice. I stand humbled.

I also stand amazed. Of course I made my deadline. What was I going to do —— miss it? Writing and publishing this book is a dream come true for me. Not only because I have wanted to write a book and see it on the shelves from the time I have first been able to clutch a pen, but also because I have a darned good feeling that at least a few people are going to be helped by reading this book. That kept me going.

The Chef's father is renowned in his family, for something he said to the Chef's brother, Pat. When Pat was in the seventh grade, and already a phenomenally talented skiier in Colorado, he lost a big race that he had expected to win. His father consoled him, then counseled him to go train harder. "If you want something bad enough, you have to work for it," he told his son. The Chef has lived his life by this edict. I have lived mine by it too, especially in these last four months.

Oh, and Pat went onto to compete in the Olympics in Sarajevo, in 1984.

The real beauty of a project like this, however, has been having the Chef by my side through it all. He has been — stunningly — a supportive partner. We are a team. We felt it before these past few months. We know it now. Last night, I made all the final, tiny edits on the computer. For hours, I had to hunch over the laptop and keep plugging at it. Sometimes, I'd think, "Oh, I can catch that comma splice on another edit," especially as the evening grew later, and my arms and back grew sore. But I didn't give up. Why?

At that exact moment, as if by magic, the Chef would walk over to me and start massaging my shoulders. (The man uses his hands all day. Oh boy.) He brought me big glasses of water. He made a hearty meat stock in the oven, so that I would have the smell of good food filling the house as I worked. He created an unbelievably good gluten-free lasagna for us, along with garlic bread he toasted from the sorghum loaf I had made that morning. Late in the evening, he chopped up a fruit salad, with apples, bananas, satsumas, and pomegranate seeds. Every time, I wanted to cry with gratitude. Always, before this, I have been alone in the midst of big projects.

At 11 last night, he came over to me and said, "You need some air. You need to move the blood around. Let's take a walk." So we walked, around our neighborhood, in the dark and rain, talking about the year ahead of us, arm in arm. We pointed out different houses, the ones with capacious porches, and we imagined ourselves in them. His instincts were perfect — I needed to see something beyond that small finish line. We have a life, not just a deadline.

And so, it is done. From this perspective, I can even say, 'tis done well.

I hope.

How did we celebrate? We slept in late. We ate leftover lasagna for breakfast. We took another walk in the rain. And then, we drove downtown....and went to Gameworks.

That's right. We played video games for two hours. After four months of dreaming up sentences and trying to make something profound sound a little more mundane, as well as cutting words in my sleep, I wanted the least intellectual activity I could find. We played old school games (I still rock at Space Invaders!) and the baseball game where someone climbs in the cage and takes swings at the screen and shot aliens with plastic guns. Mostly, I schooled him in air hockey. We leaned over the table and mock-glared at each other, and laughed out loud when someone scored a point. A little crowd gathered to watch us -- we were really, really into it. When that first game was over, I threw my fists into the air and shouted, "Yeah!" with all my force and energy.

It was a mighty celebration.

(Oh, he would want you to tell me that he won the second game by seven points.)

Finally, we stopped at Dick's for chocolate shakes. This is a funny ritual, especially for a woman who just wrote a book on eating local, seasonal, organic, and close to the ground. But, the day I first sent my book proposal off to my would-be agent, Dick's was right across from the post office. I walked in spontaneously and bought a chocolate shake. It worked. She signed me.

(And by the way, that was less than a year ago. From first draft of the book proposal to first completed draft of the book? Eleven months.)

Now, it's my good luck talisman, a chocolate shake at Dick's. The Chef walks in with me, now. And you know what? Those shakes tasted really damned good.

There is more. Always more. But you can tell that I have not written all day. That feels weird after six to eight hours a day for four months. Forgive me the length. I just feel like sharing.

The Chef's restaurant is closed this week, as they are every year in January. Blessedly, somehow, that means we have an entire week off together, with not that much to do. We're going to revel in each other, and eat really well. I may not be here much this week. I hope you understand. Come back next week, though. I've missed being here every day.

Thank you for reading.

And you know what? I made the deadline! I finished the book!



At 7:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

--2 sisters in Tokyo formerly of Seattle

At 8:27 PM, Blogger Amy Jo said...

You rock, Woman! I don't know you but I am proud of you, proud that you set a goal, had a dream, and saw it to fruition. And my hears swells every time I read about Chef. I was lucky enough to find my chef 14 years ago at the age of 21. Now we have two beautiful boys and life only gets better. I look forward to reading more blogs and hope that you and Chef truly enjoy your much deserved time together.


At 8:29 PM, Anonymous kathryn said...

Well, well, well, WELL done Shauna. This is such a big and exciting thing - to have made the deadline of your first book. WOW. You are right to luxuriate in this moment. I can't wait to see the final BOOK.

At 9:29 PM, Blogger Paz said...

Congratulations on making your deadline!

Happy, Happy New Year!

Best wishes,

At 9:29 PM, Blogger jaygee said...

Congratulations.. I sure hope I get to see a copy of your book this side of the Atlantic.. :) all the best in whatever you undertake.

At 9:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow - a friend of mine sent me your blog info yesterday and I have been reading non stop since. My two year old is allergic to wheat and we've fallen into a rut of fixing the same things over and over. You have inspired me to create new and fresh things for her. THANK YOU THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to blog your path. I will be a better mommy thanks to you and that means the world. Congrats on the book and let us all know when it hits the stores because I will be out to buy it IMMEDIATELY. Can I mention that I LOVE your photography? And I am so happy you and the Chef found each other. And can I mention that I can totally invision you some day having your own cooking show. It will happen, I believe. Because you have a light about you. Congrats and THANKYEW again for taking the TIME!
gabrielle (in Hawaii but formerly from seattle) and Samantha (two years old this month yay)

At 12:21 AM, Blogger Pille said...

Congrats, Shauna and a Happy New Year! Enjoy your well-deserved week of with your Chef:)

At 1:12 AM, Blogger Tea said...

Congratulations, my friend, on a huge job well done. Your discipline has amazed me these past months, and I know the final product is going to be incredible. How could it not? Enjoy your time off, it is more than well earned.

At 5:39 AM, Anonymous margaret from michigan said...

That's such wonderful news! Since reading your blog I've made (too many) GF cookies (GF 9 years now) and went to eat at Bel Cibo in Detroit and cannot WAIT to buy your new book! Thank you!!!

At 5:46 AM, Blogger Homesick Texan said...


At 6:05 AM, Blogger NuttyMeatfruit said...

Shauna, your blog is a constant, reliably enjoyable read. Evocative, emotive ... leaves me misty-eyed and inspired, every time. Thank you. Congratulations on your new love and sincere wishes for many more realized dreams!

At 6:31 AM, Blogger carol said...

Hi Shauna,
I discovered your blog today and I just couldn't stop reading it. I read it through lunch, in between writing copy, after dinner and now, as I procrastinate in submitting a list of magazine articles to my publisher. At first I got interested when I read about celiac, which I only encountered recently when a friend who is a nun at Fatima narrated her ordeal. And then I got swept away by your love story and was amazed at the way you romanced your food (and the Chef). I shall look forward to your book, maybe not really for the recipes but for the joy your writing gives me.

At 7:14 AM, Blogger Renee said...

I just discovered your blog yesterday through another food blog I read. I started reading because I have a friend with celiac disease and was thrilled to find recipe ideas for dinner parties with her (and will now obviously be buying your book for her upon its release). But as a single, dare I say "aging" woman, I kept reading because of the hope you have renewed in me through your stories of The Chef. Like you, I tell myself I am content on my own, even though I too know deep down that I really do want somebody to share my life with.

At 7:16 AM, Blogger Marty52 said...

Congrats!! Been reading your blog for awhile... it must feel so GREAT to have your book sent off... here's to many shared mouse clicks in your future!

At 7:29 AM, Blogger May said...

Congratulations, Shauna!

As another writer, I totally get what you mean about feeling odd that you've not written for a day. But it's a good feeling. :)

At 8:28 AM, Anonymous gaile said...

Congratulations!!! Woohoo!! I know I am just one of many many people out here in blogland who are thrilled and excited for you, for both of you, making this deadline. Can't wait to see that book! Enjoy your week off together :-)

At 8:56 AM, Blogger liannallama said...

congrats! What a wonderful accomplishment! Enjoy your week off!

At 9:33 AM, Anonymous josh said...

hooray for chocolate shakes, achieved deadlines, and a great start to a new year. many congratulations, shauna!

At 9:35 AM, Blogger Trig said...

Well done Shauna. It'll be a while for me but I look forward to writing my first book one day. I hope it goes really well for you.

At 9:36 AM, Anonymous RainCityGirl said...

Congratulations Shauna! I'm so proud of you & even though I'm not gluten free I will still buy your book because your recipes are wonderful for everyone. Enjoy your time with the Chef this week & keep spreading your love around Seattle. Kisses&Hugs & Best Wishes for the New Year!

At 9:38 AM, Blogger quietlife said...


I just stumbled upon your blog on Monday. Although I do not have to adhere to a gluten-free diet, I will be buying your book - just for the artistry that you have in describing food and cooking.

At 9:39 AM, Blogger Claire said...

Congratulations! I know you're glad to be finished and free for a bit.

At 10:20 AM, Blogger GrewUpRural said...

Congrats on the book! I can't wait for it hit the bookstores. You have a lot of discipline to accomplish this project within under one year.

At 10:36 AM, Blogger worldtraveler said...

Congratulations Shauna! I can't wait until your book comes out. What a great way to begin the New Year. May 2007 be filled with moments just as momentous and blessed as this!

At 11:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations, I have been reading your blog for a while and have followed the great news of the book and the chef. Strangely, I feel like you are an old friend even though we have never met. Please post often, I feel like I need my daily fix.

At 11:19 AM, Anonymous sean crowley said...

You should be so proud of yourself! I can't believe I stumbled onto your blog...I am a Sommelier/Vintner in San Francisco and was diagnosed with Celiac's disease about 4 years ago and I had to change my whole life becuase I was in the restaurant chef's called me "gluten boy", but I was quite helpful in educating everyone on the topic of gluten. Thanks so much for your wonderful Blog and Happay New Year!

At 11:30 AM, Blogger sappmama said...

Oh man. I'm new here and there's so much great stuff going on. I HAVE to say congratulations. I'm totally thrilled for you.

Happy New Year!

At 11:34 AM, Blogger Beccy said...

Congratulations Shauna, I can't wait to buy a copy of your book, I hope it's available over here.

Enjoy your week, you've certainly earned a rest, I look forward to more next week.

At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Bob said...

Congratulations on finishing - I can't wait to get a copy!!


At 1:32 PM, Blogger Suzanne said...

Shauna, congratulations! But you knew you'd do it -- it came from your heart.

My question is: now, when is THEIR deadline?

I want to buy the book yesterday!

At 1:35 PM, Blogger Molly said...

Congratulations, my friend. Brandon and I can't wait to toast with you and Dan! xo

At 2:52 PM, Blogger Katie said...

Congratulations! That's an amazing accomplishment! Maybe one day I’ll attain my secretly hidden dream of writing a book as well.

At 5:06 PM, Blogger Nicola said...


At 5:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats! can't wait to read it!!!

At 5:54 PM, Blogger Mike Eberhart said...

Congratulations on hitting your deadline. I know how good it feels to have reached the finish-line when writing a book. You have accomplished a lot in a short amount of time, and have certainly made my 2-year writing timeline look a bit lethargic. :) The next wonderful rush is getting the first proof-copies in hand -- there is simply nothing else as exiting!

I love the quote from Pascal too - even mathematicians are good for more than just math :)

At 7:19 PM, Blogger Katherine said...

Your persistance and focus inspire me! How satisfying it will be for you to see everything unfold and become fulfilled this year as a result of your efforts.

At 7:34 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

"After four months of dreaming up sentences and trying to make something profound sound a little more mundane, as well as cutting words in my sleep..."

Shauna, this is beautiful, and I'm sure your new book is equally exquisite. I hope you are exploding with delight (as you are very good at doing!)

Now, after your tremendous and prolific (so jealous!) work, if you have more time, I would ADORE to be able to see you sometime. E-mail if you ever have time for a coffee break!

--Sarah Deutsch

At 7:48 PM, Blogger Lynn Barry said...


At 8:32 PM, Blogger terry said...

you have this amazing gift of making me smile with each post. i can't wait to read your book.

oh, and thanks again for pointing out the amazing gluten-free food to be had in NYC! i was thrilled beyond belief at risotteria and babycakes.

At 10:33 PM, Blogger Sam said...

remembering back to when i first virtually met you and the email exchanges we had, I am so glad that things have worked out perfectly for you.


At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations! Can't wait to read your book.
Enjoy this week with your chef.

At 8:13 AM, Blogger MasGrandeQueJesus said...

It was a surreal experience to be half-watching The Food Network and suddenly hear your voice. Surreal in the wonderful way that a head in the clouds comes suddenly, firmly back to earth.

It's strange to find connection sandwiched between Kraft "cooking" tips and Sargento Cheese.

I'm so happy to see that you have finished your book, and can't wait to read it. Congratulations! That you have found happiness and then some with The Chef and are writing full-time is truly wonderful.

I'm glad that life has been good to you, and that you have been good at life. I wish you the best in everything that you do.


At 8:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will add yet another congrats to your already growing list.

Thank you for sharing.

And, have a wonderful vacation together.


At 9:48 AM, Blogger Brett said...

CONGRATS! I can't wait to buy and read your book!

At 11:36 AM, Blogger Jeanne said...

Congratulations! I can't wait to read it!

At 1:49 PM, Anonymous bakerina said...

Might I join Nicola in saying it?

Yes. :)

At 1:52 PM, Blogger Cate said...

Shauna - didn't see an e-mail address for you on your site. Just wanted to let you know that Gluten-Free Girl is officially in the running for a Food Blog Award over on Well Fed - congrats! Cate

At 4:48 PM, Blogger Kalyn said...

Hi Shauna,
Sorry this is a bit off topic here, but I just wanted to stop by and say I'm honored to be nominated in the same category as you, Madeline, Biggles, and Allison.

And huge congratulations on finishing the book!

Best Wishes,

At 5:08 PM, Blogger ChupieandJ'smama said...

Congratulations!!! Best of luck with the new book. It is only ONE amazing thing that will be happening to you this year:)

At 5:15 PM, Blogger Freckled Face Mama said...

YAHHHHHOOOO! I am so happy and proud of you! Having a supportive partner is the key to your success. Not only are they the most important element in your life but they help you when the time is important. My hubby is in medical school, after a mid-career change, and without each other we would fail. I help him and he helps me. Congratulations again on being done!

At 11:06 PM, Anonymous beastmomma said...

That is truly wonderful!! Congratulations and happy celebrating!

At 12:16 PM, Blogger Plume said...


I hope I will be able to find your book when it's published.

At 4:40 PM, Blogger Lindsay said...

My name is Lindsay and I am a gluten free girl too! I was diagnosed 5 years ago this month. I agree that 2006 was a good year. I am glad you feel better now. I found this blog on the food network.

At 8:37 PM, Blogger Miss Liza said...

So very, very happy for you! Your posts often give me goosebumps and hope for the understanding and joy you have found in life.


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