March 24, 2012

Recipe for 'Riting - Karen Toews

Food is my gig.

Beyond the obvious - needing to eat to sustain myself - I work with it, talk about it, demonstrate how to cook with it, write about it.

Sometimes I just "wing it" - I check the fridge and the pantry and create a meal or a dish using what's available. But when I really want to try something new or need it to turn out just right, I use a recipe with its ingredient list and instructions.

Writing a piece of work - an article, blog, poem, or book - is much like following a recipe.

There's structure: listing what you need for the expected finish, with specific guidelines on how to proceed with those ingredients. An outline, a procedure - a beginning, a middle and an end.

And not everything requires the same amount of time from beginning to end. A quatrain - a trail mix of raisins, peanuts, almonds and dried apricots - is altogether quite different from preparing a memoir of a simmered stew of a lifetime.

Wash, cut, chop, taste - add a little more seasoning - polish, add a paragraph, find that perfect word, move a paragraph.

Simmering the dish too long can dry it out - when the book is finished, it's done, ready to be enjoyed.

There's a calling, a reason for the creation
  • could be a "quick lunch," a pithy piece like a devotional - with a scripture reference and three points to ponder throughout the day. The ingredient list isn't long but each one packs a punch.
  • there are special holiday meals: a variety of flavours, colours and a taste of tradition: those articles that draw on our past, portraying God's faithfulness and blending it with the vibrance of life and hope for today
  • we get a craving for spice and zest - a heart-challenging message that sparks a flame
The dish doesn't always match the recipe picture - the story heads off on another direction, minding its own will.

But "we can always revise and revisit once we've acted....we can accomplish nothing until we act."
(Do the Work! by Steven Pressfield)

Stick to the gig, my friends.

1 comment:

  1. I am notorious for NOT following recipes. I usually end up improvising, even when I try to follow one ... Hm ... wonder if that says anything about my writing, too...


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