Coach Marla Beck

Try It. (a story about dried apple pie…)

by Marla Beck

in brilliant creativity, brilliant productivity

My father’s from a farming family in Southern Ohio. I never lived there, but growing up, we made annual pilgrimage to visit my cousins and the cornfields.

Cornfield-c. 2011-2015- Marla

c. 2015 Marla Beck

This past weekend was our annual family reunion. One of the highlights for me, besides hugging on my many cousins and watching my 8-year-old daughter bond with my two young nieces, was this:  dried apple pie.

My dad loves dried apple pie, an Eastern Kentucky tradition which, as I remember, tastes a bit like tart, rich apple butter baked in a delicious, lard-laden crust.

Yet somehow my Aunt Magdalene, a hard-working woman who’d greet me at the door with a lilting “Come give me some sug-ah!” — a greeting she extended even when I was well into adulthood, somehow this strong woman passed away without anyone in the family knowing how to make dried apple pie quite like she does.

“I was always at school when she made them,” said my cousin.

“I tried making dried apple pie once and it just didn’t come out quite right,” said another.

I tried myself last Thanksgiving, using the notes I scrapped together from a telephone conversation with Aunt Magdalene not long before she died.  My dad brought two Ziploc bags of dried apples all the way to California, and he said the pie we baked together came close. Really close.  He said the pie crust I’d made wasn’t like Aunt Magdalene’s, though.  A little too doughy.

Fast forward to this past weekend.  I’d packed the second bag of dried apples in my suitcase, which means these apples crossed the country two times in the name of pie!  My family and I got to the farm on Saturday morning, and I arrived on a mission:  to take another shot at baking an authentic dried apple pie, and to share the experience with a few of my first cousins.

I’ll cut to the chase and tell you outright:  technically, we failed.

Turns out I’d packed the apples but not my recipe.  Turns out we may not have cooked the apples long enough, for the filling kind of oozed out between the crusts when my cousin says it should’ve stayed put.  Turns out our crust was good, but “contemporary” and even further from authentic.

I watched people react to the not-quite-right dried apple pie we’d made:

– One of my relatives expressed surprise and happy disbelief when he saw it on the dessert table.

– A small group of relatives critiqued different elements of the pie, and standing nearby I almost felt like they thought this was confirmation that of course, we should never have tried to bake like Aunt Magdalene.

– My dad, bless his heart, had two helpings.  (Thanks, Dad.)

– And the next morning, there were leftovers. That tells you something right there…

Our output (the pie) was not, technically, a success.  Our process though, was stellar.

My cousins and I laughed and shared memories of Aunt Magdalene and stressed over Jamaican allspice and kept the children up way too late, all in service of trying to recreate a tradition.  And in doing so, we may have formed a brand-new tradition:  one of giving things a shot. Trying something out. Going for it.

My wish for you, if you’re holding back on taking a leap in your writing, building your freelance writing  business, working up your courage to stand up for what you truly believe, or allowing yourself the support you need to be the writer you know deep you can be, is to allow yourself to GO FOR IT.

If you wait until you’re perfect, you’ll miss out on fun, opportunities and chances to connect more deeply with  yourself and others.

You’ll miss out on that creative yield that comes mostly when we’re loose, spacious and open.

Don’t not try.  Let your desire guide you, and give things a shot.

If you fail as we (kinda’) did with our dried apple pie this weekend, I challenge you to rewrite your narrative:

You did not “fail.”  You’re just not there yet.

And there’s no reason you can’t have some fun along the way to perfect.

with love from your coach,



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