Monthly Archives: August 2014

Some Like It Hot

So, BF and I finally had the talk. You know the one. The one that can be a deal-breaker, the conversation to end all conversations. We had to decide if we were going to get rid of my eleven-year-old microwave with only a few working buttons, or his $9 convection oven that burned everything. Guess what? I lost.

But only after putting up a fight, presenting (what I though was) a watertight case on the benefits of a broken microwave, and using the microwave to cook things that really didn’t need microwaving, just to prove my point. I decided he didn’t get it, and I was going to show him the light. And finally . . .

We compromised. Well, not really. He actually ably poked holes in my argument, including pointing out that his oven takes up less counter space, and I relented. I succumbed and my antique microwave is no longer among the living. And it was the right choice.

You see, sometimes we hold onto things that seem meaningful or even practical, when it is simply not the case. Take, for example, your writing (you knew this was going to come full circle, didn’t you?).

Sometimes you write a character you love. You adore her. There’s not a thing wrong with this beautiful person you created. She says and does everything exactly the way she should—the way you want her to. Then off goes your manuscript to your editor. Who disagrees with you and suggests making some changes. To your character, your baby, your darling.

So you fight. You stomp your feet. You pout. You create a watertight argument for why the editor is wrong. Your character is perfect, after all. Just the way she is.

Then you sit back and reread the editor’s notes. You see that maybe your character’s missing buttons aren’t endearing, but, rather, are annoying. Maybe you realize that she takes up too much space. And maybe you start moving some things around.

The editor-writer relationship can sometimes be about compromise. And sometimes that compromise ends up with the author scrapping the microwave—so to speak—only to realize that, in the end, doing so is a much better choice.

Now, I’m off to figure out how to warm up some soup in a convection oven.

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Recipe, Shmecipe: On Writing

I’m not one to follow recipes. Where it says, “Add a tablespoon of flour” I throw in a handful. Where it says, “Add one cup of sugar” I squirt in some honey and/or maple syrup or a scoop of the white stuff. Where it says, “Pour in wine and stir,” I drink a glass. You get my drift.

No, recipes are simply guidelines for me. I still do what I want after I’ve been inspired by the general idea of making something that sounds yummy for dinner. The same is true with writing.

There are myriad guidebooks, how-to books, self-help books that all outline or describe how to write.. Structure. Character development. Do’s and don’ts when it comes to diction. How can you keep up with everything you are and are not supposed to do and write your story? Frankly, I have no idea nor do I have suggestions about that.

But I do have a suggestion about writing. Write it. If you need a guide great—that’s fine. But I encourage you to write your story, your way. Where it says your character must walk a certain path, it’s OK to have him go the other way. Where it says you can’t do something within a certain genre, it’s OK to foray into something new and different. And where it says to take a break and have a glass of wine . . . Well, I say you should definitely do that.

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