Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Let Your Writing Simmer

Last week, I invited some friends over for dinner.  Nothing special, I’d just been feeling like the hermit and wanted to spend some time with other people.

I’d had the entire meal planned out.  I decided to go with a Chinese theme: pork and cabbage, stir-fry, sweet and sour chicken.  I was excited.  Honestly, I’ve always been of the opinion that if you’re not cooking for a lot of people, why cook at all?

Unfortunately, because of circumstances I couldn’t control, I had to go into work that afternoon for a little while.  I got home with about an hour before everyone arrived.  And I hadn’t prepared a thing.  Sure, the meat and vegetables had been cut, but there’s still the time that it takes to cook it all.  I began working like a madwoman; I had three pans on the stove, stirring them all at the same time.  I forced my husband to stop doing homework because I needed help frying the chicken.

Surprisingly, I finished by the time everyone arrived.  Everything was ready, the food was cooked, but it just didn’t taste right to me.  Later, talking with my husband, we both agreed that in my rush, I hadn’t allowed my food to simmer and for the spices and juices to really permeate through the entire dish.  That’s probably why the leftovers taste so good.  Yum!

Last night, I was thinking about the entire experience, and it reminded me of writing.  There’s a reason why we can’t just write a first draft and bam!  Send it out without a second thought.  There’s a simmering process to writing that adds just as much flavor as leaving something on the stove for an extra few minutes.  Allowing the writing to sit, to really coagulate can help when we come back to write.  I know that when I finish a draft, I can read through and think it’s brilliant.

After a few weeks of sitting, it doesn’t feel like it’s the best I’ve ever done.

Then it’s time for the fun part.  Adding the spices, the flavor.  Cut out the unnecessary words, add more vibrant verbs.  Show instead of tell.  Each ingredient adds to the dish until it’s something that I want to share with others.

Isn’t that what writing’s about anyway?