My Writing Process: Resisting the Brownie

by  | May 8

Hi. My name is Leslie. And I’m addicted to sugar. Okay, not all sugar at all times. But specifically, the delightful array of snacks that accompany me while writing. Of course, it started out innocently. I just wanted a small jolt of energy while working! My first novel was written in association with a landslide of croissants. My creativity is simply fueled by sour strawberries, I explain to the imaginary naysayers.

Well, suffice it to say that the situation got out of control, and one day, I realized that I actually couldn’t write without some form of junk food within my grasp. I decided that I needed to stop. It was a bad habit that, unlike the edits to my second novel, needed immediate fixing. I wasn’t procrastinating. Not at all. This was important. For my health and general well-being!

I started by rounding up all the cookies and candy and organic Fruit by the Foot in my apartment and put them into a bag. I couldn’t bear throwing them out completely (what if there was an emergency!), so I placed the bag just outside the back door to my apartment. Shockingly, this didn’t work and simply resulted in me going outside for snacks, essentially trick-or-treating at my own apartment.

A psychologist friend of mine suggested I try exposure therapy, a.k.a. a technique in which you treat a patient’s anxiety about a certain issue by exposing the patient to the anxiety source to help them overcome it. To me, this meant one thing: placing a brownie next to my computer all day and seeing what happens.

I considering documenting my progress the way that all scientists have in the past, via Insta story, but then I realized that those disappear within 24 hours, and I want future generations to benefit from my research.

Okay. Here goes.

8:45 am: Not really interested in the brownie. Exposure therapy working. Or maybe it’s just really early.

10:00 am: Distracted by ten straight minutes of writing. And sorting out this whole Tristan/Khloé situation. Which led to pictures of Kylie Jenner’s house. Hot damn, that’s a lot of handbags.

11:12 am: It’s 11:12 am. Do you know where your children are, and that lunch is just around the corner? Anything in the 11’s means I can eat lunch now and it would be totally okay. Game plan: eat a lot of lunch and reduce the need for brownie.

11:13 am: Consider alternate plan of eating brownie instead of lunch. Rationalize: I don’t need lunch. What is lunch but a sandwich, or a salad on a bad day? No. Stay strong!

11:45 am: Ate lunch. Told brownie: you’re not the boss of me! Got a big laugh in my head, but not at the library where I next went, because while you can stare at brownies there, you definitely can’t eat or talk to them. Decided to go home, where I can talk to all my desserts in peace. Considered leaving brownie at the library, but feeling like we’ve become friends. At the very least, we’re in this together.

1:03 pm: Post-lunch haze has worn off. Have convinced myself of sentimental attachment to brownie in order not to eat it. We walked across Central Park together…good times! Saw an article posted on Facebook by vegan friend about how fish have feelings and we therefore shouldn’t eat them. Wondering if corresponding article exists about brownies.

2:00 pm: Wonder if experiment will fail if instead of eating brownie, I go out and eat an ice cream sundae? Anti-sugar campaign could easily start tomorrow. You know what they say…there’s no day like tomorrow. I believe it was the great Confucius who once said: What you say in the present becomes more vague and less achievable in the future.

3:23 pm: ONE bite. Just ONE. I’ll eat a handful of cashews after, because protein?!?! Pleeeeeeease.

3:30 pm: That bite may have been a mistake. Now scouring my apartment for alternative brownie-like substance. Decide to replace one addiction with another and go on Instagram. Yes. Working. Distracted.

4:34 pm: Fallen into a tunnel of family beach photos of families I don’t know. It is always beach season on Instagram. Maybe it’s also National Brownie Day? Let’s check. I’d have to celebrate. DAMN! National Pretzel Day. There is no justice in this world.

5:06 pm: Manage to escape Instagram and do twenty minutes of writing, and then decide to head to to make sure nothing crazy has happened. Accidentally stumble upon some hard news. Consider eating brownie because life is short and sad, and though I signed up for this experiment the only constant in this world is change.

5:46 pm: Email film agent about a project. Get his automated out-of-office response. He, too, is at the beach. Convince myself he’s not avoiding me. No news not necessarily bad news. Will hear back… Hopefully soon. Email regular agent to see if contract for second novel has been sorted out. He responds. Still waiting. Hopefully soon. Also inquire about royalty statements for first novel; perhaps a check was included, maybe, in a wildly optimistic gesture by publisher. Still waiting, he says. Hopefully soon.

Eat brownie. Instant satisfaction. A rare thing in the life of a writer.


This Love Story Will Self-Destruct

This Love Story Will Self-Destruct

by Leslie Cohen

This is the classic tale of boy meets girl: Girl…goes home with someone else.

Meet Eve. She’s a dreamer, a feeler, a careening well of sensitivities who can’t quite keep her feet on the ground, or steer clear of trouble. She’s a laugher, a crier, a quirky and quick-witted bleeding-heart-worrier.

Meet Ben. He’s an engineer, an expert at leveling floors who likes order, structure, and straight lines. He doesn’t opine, he doesn’t ruminate, he doesn’t simmer until he boils over.

So naturally, when the two first cross paths, sparks don’t exactly fly. But then they meet again. And again. And then, finally, they find themselves with a deep yet fragile connection that will change the course of their relationship—possibly forever.

Follow Eve and Ben as they navigate their twenties on a winding journey through first jobs, first dates, and first breakups; through first reunions, first betrayals and, maybe, first love. This is When Harry Met Sally reimagined; a charming tale told from two unapologetically original points of view. With an acerbic edge and heartwarming humor, debut novelist Leslie Cohen takes us on a tour of what life looks like when it doesn’t go according to plan, and explores the complexity, chaos, and comedy in finding a relationship built to last.

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Leslie Cohen was born and raised in New York. She studied fiction at Columbia University, and wrote a weekly music column for a newspaper in Colorado before working in publishing for several years.