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Monday, June 21, 2010

Cooking and Writing and BONUS RECIPE!

I've noticed I get more hits on my recipe posts than my writing posts. I wonder why. Do more people cook than write? Are writing posts pretty much all saying the same thing so it doesn't matter where you read it? Are my recipes better than my writing? Food for thought.

Writing is a lot like creating a recipe. It takes a lot longer to cook a good novel than a good cake, but the two processes have a lot in common.

Ingredients - Cakes require a certain balance between ingredients. Liquids to give it the right texture, leavening to give it lift, starches to hold it together, fats to provide tenderness, flavorings to make it taste better, etc. Try changing up the proportions in your favorite recipe and see what happens. Half a cup of baking powder? It will rise quite nicely, right over the edge of the pans and into the bottom of your oven. Plus it will taste horrible. Trust me, I did it when I was nine and just learning to cook.

Writing a novel requires a balance, too. Character, setting, action, dialogue - all the tools of a writer, each needs to be in balance to produce the book you want to write. Are all books the same? Would one formula work for every book? Are all cakes the same? What if you want a savory dinner bread instead? You, the writer or the chef, have to decide what you want to create. That will give you a general guideline for proportion. Writing a romance? Then you need a certain set of characters and plenty of spicy dialogue. Writing a space opera? You need spaceships, aliens, and lots of action. Baking a chocolate cake? Bring on the chocolate!

With my recipes, most of them are originals based off other recipes. Think about it. Basic cooking techniques really haven't changed all that much for thousands of years. You apply heat to cook food. How you apply it gives different results. With the invention of electric ovens, slow cookers, mixers, and other tools, the process has changed. We get more reliable outcomes. With the invention of baking mixes and other processed mixes, we get more consistent results. How can I claim to write an original recipe? It's my twist, concocted by trial and error over a period of months or years. I may have started with the same recipe, but I certainly didn't end up with the same product.

Writing has also changed, but it hasn't. Computers and technology have made writing more accessible to everyone. Data can be transferred instantaneously around the world. How people read has definitely shifted. But the basics are still the same - writing produces stories that entertain and enrich lives.

People will always need to eat. To do that, they need to cook. The appliances have changed dramatically, but the end result is still the same. Food.

People crave entertainment and stories. How we tell the stories has changed, but we still need storytellers. We always will.

So for those predicting the end of publishing, I say the method will change, but the need will not. Stories will still exist, just as food will still exist no matter how we process or prepare it.

Want a recipe now? Put 1/2 c. peanut butter and 1/2 c. chocolate chips in a microwaveable bowl. Heat for about 30 seconds. Stir until smooth. (Heat for another 15 - 30 seconds if needed to melt completely.) Serve as a dip for cookies, bananas, cake, crackers, etc, or pour over ice cream for a peanutty fudge sundae.