Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Novels in the oven

For me novels are like that recipe you vaguely remember your dearly departed grandmother making in your childhood. You know what you want, but no one can tell you just how to put it all together. The exact taste is right there on the tip of your tongue, but you just can't quite name the ingredient you keep missing. And you need to give it time to cook. But now much time? Too much and it's overdone and dry, not enough and you've got a mushy mess of stark flavors on your hands (or fork).

I write a rough draft, add in some notes of intent for the really rough spots and toss that puppy in the subconsicious oven. (No real puppies were harmed during this post.) I turn the light on inside the oven and sit and stare. Nothing cooks when you watch it, I swear. So I walk away. I have no freaking idea when this meal is going to be done. Rushing the process just makes me bang my head on walls. So I go look for something to eat while I wait for the DING!

I eat my obligatory vegetables. I enjoy some broccoli while editing, some carrots while I read books and blogs on writing. Sometimes I munch on a salad go on critique sprees. I do enjoy my veggies, but I long for that main course. It smells so darn good. Why isn't it done yet?

I sneak a few pieces of chocolate cake while I read books for fun and catch up on the tv shows I otherise ignore. That cake is indulgently wonderful, but it's not filling.

Nothing quite hits the spot, so I sneak off with a sandwhich and write short stories. Filling yes, but still not what I'm craving.

And then it comes. A DING that fills my head and sends my fingers flying over the keyboard to find that draft I'd set aside so long ago. All that time waiting, smelling, drooling, and now I grab my fork and dive in. I can't stop eating. I must. Keep. Eating.

Once I wash the dishes and get over the stomach ache, I'll sit back and ponder if I got the recipe right this time. If I did, who knows, I might finally be ready to invite some friends to dinner.


  1. That somewhat describes my own method, except my has a bunch of drunken moments mixed in. Good post, though. I really think one of the biggest mistakes writers make is trotting the story out there before they've had time to think it through properly, and the result is shallow stories.

  2. Did I miss mentioning downing a bottle or two of wine while I waited? Those bits are are filed under the banging the head on the keyboard moments. ;)

    Sadly, this story has been invited to too many unsatisfying dinner parties. It's now confined to my oven until its ready for the real world.

  3. I'm glad no puppies were hurt during the making of this post ;)


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