So Lit Lunch: Maid Meatloaf

Southern Literary Luncheon

Once a month, my published writer friend Kaitlyn Sage Patterson and I go to lunch somewhere authentic to Memphis, talk about a memoir, and share stories on the road to publication.

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land and the Meatloaf Special at Caritas Village

I used to think meatloaf was for old ladies and moms who hid chopped onions and cornflakes with eggs in ground beef squished, formed, and covered with ketchup. This one is wrapped in bacon fragrant with spices.

But it’s the honey and thyme carrots that make me take a bite and sit back in my chair. Not usually a fan of the plain root vegetable, these are the perfect texture, soft but not mushy, and sweet but not overly so.

The meatloaf, no trace of cornflakes, tastes more like the stuffing of Italian peppers topped with tomato gravy. All this goodness sits on a bed of smoked mashed potatoes I could eat for days and garlic green beans on the side. Dessert is chocolate cake with pralines in the frosting. Thirteen bucks with a drink, and always the option to pay it forward for the next person. Caritas Village serves up a house plate to anybody who walks in the door, whether he can afford it or not.

Stephanie Land, a single mom on welfare, works as a maid to get through college and provide for her daughter. Maid came from a Vox article I found very intriguing about snooping through rich people’s houses while cleaning. The expanded narrative takes on a socioeconomic angle, sort of a climb-out-of-poverty memoir.

I have felt the narrator’s shame of applying for food stamps and the single-mom struggle. It is real. By the end, Land supports herself and her daughter through writing, which is something I never had the confidence to try. She winds up a hero who vows to shine a light on poor injustice. With a forward by Barbara Ehrenreich and an agent like Jeff Kleinman, she debuted at 13 in hardcover nonfiction. He’s on my A-list.

I bring my list of five potential agents, table of contents, and chapter summaries all printed on paper because it’s easier for me to believe it will be an actual book when I can hold it in my hands. Kaitlyn has a list going too, and it’s nice to see some duplication. Great minds and all.

She recommends Query Tracker to see where my pitch is in each agent’s que. “It’s useful for anxiety.”

I use the site for research, but I don’t want to see how many or how long, or any mound of data which would drive me to worry more. It wouldn’t make a difference on the outcome, and my energy needs to go toward something productive. Like revising my manuscript.

“Now make a deadline for the next draft and keep it.”

– Sage advice from Kaitlyn Sage Patterson

I choose August, and we shake on it. Accountability is a good thing.

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