Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post on Tuesdays or you can just head on over there to check out other people's stories. For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here.
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One tall yellow box of Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix was still tucked away in my pantry. (I always buy a few extra boxes in the fall because I love it so much...and we had one box left.) On Sunday, I pulled that box out, heated up the oven, mixed all the ingredients, and filled the cupcake tin but it wasn't until they were in the oven and the smell of warm cinnamon spread throughout the house that my family came to see what I was up to.
I didn't bake them from scratch but the aroma that filled the house was still amazing. I can guarantee you that if I had tossed some veggies in a bowl with dressing, they wouldn't have come running. Don't get me wrong, I love a good salad but tossing a salad just isn't baking muffins.
And writing a poem, a song, a story, an essay, isn't just tossing words down onto a page. It is about putting words together but I've come to realize how much time and love goes into combining words, layering in character traits, and folding in depth, description and determination.
When I went vegan, I experimented with adding veggies and spices to stir fry or to salads. Suddenly cooking was fun in a way I had never experienced before. I actually felt like I was in charge of deciding how much I needed of one thing or another. But baking is still foreign to me. Baking is still following a recipe and putting things together and into the oven so that you come up with something completely different. It's almost magical.
Writing is more like baking for me. The more I write, the more I realize how complex it is. My first draft feels more like a salad, throwing out ideas, getting words down but the real magic happens in revision. In looking at the words closely, in seeing all the parts and not just making them work together but creating something new entirely. Revision isn't as easy as adding a dash of this or sprinkling in some of that. Revision feels like cleaning the bowl and assembling all the ingredients again and trying again.
Don't get me wrong, I've never thought that writing was easy but I'm finding a new depth in my appreciation for revision and the writing process and that a polished piece has so many working ingredients that contribute to the whole-ness of a final product.
Writing is baking muffins, it's not tossing a salad. Maybe my metaphor is a bit of a stretch but it seems to capture the essence of writing, the process, the idea that all the elements contribute to the final product, and that it takes the talented connoisseur to recognize all the ingredients. And maybe that there's some magic, some of the author's heart baked in.
If you could create your own metaphor for writing, what might you compare it to?