Monday, July 5, 2010

Writing is like . . .

. . . Cooking! No, I haven't been nipping at the cooking sherry . . . at least not yet! HA!

Writing is like cooking because . . . we take the gem of an idea and shape it into something extraordinary. Okay, not all my cooking experiments have turned out well. That's not the point.

Slow-Cooker 'Baked' Beans

3 Cans (15 ounces each) Pinto Beans - drained and rinsed
1 Cup Barbecue Sauce
1 Small Onion - chopped
1/4 Cup Firmly Packed Light Brown Sugar
2 Slices Center Cut Bacon - chopped

Place all ingredients in slow cooker, mix well, cover with lid and cook on LOW for 4 to 6 hours or on HIGH for 3 hours.

The above is a basic 'baked' bean recipe from the Kraft Food and Family magazine (Summer 2008). It's a nice recipe. It is the gem of an idea. It's been done before.

Vampires have been done before. Anne Rice - pre Stephanie Meyers - reinvented the vampire tall. She told the story in her way, with her twist and - in my opinion - did a mighty fine job of it, as have other authors.

Since every story has already been told, we, as aspiring writers, must retell those stories in a new and exciting way.

So, cooking is like writing because, sometimes, I take a basic recipe and refashion it in a new and exciting way.

The first time I made the above recipe, I didn't have three cans of pinto beans. I had two cans of pinto beans and one can of butter beans. In a pinch, any bean will do. Oh, wait, I didn't have enough BBQ sauce. What's a poor chef to do? Well, I had some Catalina dressing. Yup! I just threw in enough Catalina dressing to make 1 Cup! Hmmm, Mom's baked beans always had meat. What else did I have in the refrig? Oh, look, some breakfast sausage. Brown it up, mix it in, and voila - something fresh and new.

Now, this past weekend I decided to make the baked beans. I wanted something new and different. Open the pantry - sun dried tomatoes, roasted red and yellow peppers, and look, in the refrig some celery. Hmmmm. Yes, indeedy, dear peeps, I reinvented the Slow Cooker 'Baked' Beans . . . again.

I do the same thing when I'm writing. I take an idea that's been done before, and I do it in a different way. Sometimes it turns out great, and other times, well, not so great. It's all part of the writing process. It's all about adding and/or taking away certain elements to make something work.

So, writing is like cooking . . . even if you haven't been nipping at the cooking sherry! Ha!



Cruella Collett said...

I am a perfectly adequate, but nowhere near fantastic cook. I have always been absolutely terrible at following recipes, though. A splash of this, an hint of that. Who bothers using measurements? Ooop, no butter? How about olive oil?

Usually my technique works fairly well, sometimes I fail miserably. (Which isn't entirely far from the reality when it comes to my writing as well)

Great post!

ali said...

Well said! I couldn't agree more. :)

Tess said...

I made baked beans this weekend as well ... not too different than yours but our family recipe also adds hamburger.

hey...I think I just made your point here. All about our own spin. yes.

Scott said...

Cruella - you should have tasted my zuchinni fritters this past weekend. Oh, wait, that would be cruel and unusual punishment. That recipe didn't turn out exactly. I have quite a few writing projects along the same lines. We just have to keep trying until we get it right . . . or we end up in the hospital with food poisoning. Ha!

Ali - thanks.

Tess - my Mom uses hamburger in her recipe. I think sausage gives a more distinct flavor. And, you did make the point. Woo-hoo!