I made some cookies last week, and they were awful. In my quest to find the perfect gluten free cookie, I have ended up with things that can only be described as discs of burnt sugar. I’d like to think at this point I am a pretty decent baker. I know I lack patience, and I am no good at decoration.
Normally I throw out whatever turned out wrong, and try again a few weeks later. If at all. This time, I was determined to get the cookie recipe right. I had promised a friend some chocolate chip cookies, and I was going to deliver. A few hours of research later, playing around with ingredients, and a little bit of “what the hell, throw that in there too”, I ended up with some tasty cookies that looked like cookies. It was 1am.
A few weeks ago I made a cake, and took it into work. I was deeply embarrassed by my cake. It was meant to be a sour cream sponge with cream cheese frosting, and although it tasted okay, it looked disgusting. The frosting sunk into the cake and made a soggy mess. I have made this cake before, in the shape of an American flag thank you very much, and it was glorious. This time, I took my eye off the ball (and my tempermental oven), and disaster struck.
I don’t seem to have a lot of luck when it comes to baking for work. I also made Snickers muffins last year that were not at all sweet. I used organic peanut butter. Fuck organic peanut butter. As a quick fix, I covered them in chocolate frosting. I hated them, but much like the cake, I had promised to bring some in and I delivered. To my surprise, they still talk about the muffins like they were the best thing on Earth. I continue to promise to make something that actually lives up to my standards.g, but it does. I wish I wrote like I baked. I wish I made mistakes, and started over that same night. I wish I wasn’t completely happy with a piece of work, but still sent it out for consideration.
This sounds like it has nothing to do with writing, but it does. I wish I wrote like I baked. I wish I made mistakes, and started over that same night. I wish I wasn’t completely happy with a piece of work, but still sent it out for consideration.
I have this anxiety, that things need to be perfect. I worry that I didn’t research enough, or that the plot isn’t sound enough, the characters aren’t believable enough. What I have ended up with is a notebook full of ideas, and nothing else to show for it.
Being in university, being given prompts every week and homework I have to do, has shown me I can write when pushed. I have also seen work that I would never be happy with, that has been published, performed, and celebrated. This is my problem, I feel the need to break every story down to its most basic elements and see if it really works. Which is great, it means I feel I never settle for less, but it also means I don’t get as much writing done as I should.
In the meantime, billion dollar franchise movies get written and all I think is I could have written it better. Except I didn’t write it better, I didn’t write it at all.
The word “luck” and “difficult” gets thrown around a lot when it comes to writing. I feel that every writer and publisher I have met on my course is just trying to dissuade me from writing. Statistically, I have more of a chance of being a professional football player than a comic book writer. Except…I don’t think it’s luck. It’s just sheer stubbornness. It’s sitting down and actually writing out that idea in your head, then going back and editing it, but above all not spending a year on it. It’s submitting work promptly and timely, to competitions, magazine submissions, calls for writers…everywhere. I don’t think the road to hell is paved with rejection letters, it’s paved with all the stories I never wrote.
So I’m going to think about writing more like baking, and if I don’t write I’ll starve.