April 12, 2014

Eaten Off the Premises by Lorrie Orr

Takeaway: (food) eaten off the premises

Writing for myself is like eating a meal alone in front of the television. I choose what to eat, when to eat, and the channel I watch. I might slurp my soup. I'm the only one who directly benefits. It's satisfying, but doesn't fill anyone else.   

Writing for others is like preparing a dinner party. I think about the needs of my guests. This one can't tolerate gluten. That one hates cheese. Dinner party preparation is, for me, like writing a poem. This element balances this one. A surprise is thrown in here. Flavours meld into a cohesive whole. Flowers, candles and linens add to the atmosphere. Conversation flows. Guests push away from the table satisfied. Sometimes I'm asked to share a recipe. Perhaps a guest ponders a bit of conversation later in the car. 

During 20 plus years of mission work in Ecuador, I wrote many, many news/prayer letters. Before sitting down to write one, I'd imagine writing a letter to one person, usually a friend. Then I'd think about what I wanted that person to take away from my letter. I wanted my reader to be encouraged about God's activity in another part of the world, to know that I appreciated the prayer and financial support we received, to be inspired to pray, and to have a new realization of God's faithfulness.

I currently write a "slice-of-life" blog. Here I share bits of beauty and creativity, recipes, thoughts on life, and whatever comes to mind. It's not overtly faith-based, although most of my readers will gather that I am a woman of faith after reading for awhile. What I want my reader to take away from that blog is to cherish the small moments of life, to see the beauty in every day, and to be inspired to create beauty in her own life. 

I want to engage my reader to not merely read and leave, but to take away something for them. When I write for others, my questions are:
"What's in it for them?" 
"How can this help encourage, inspire, comfort?"
"What feeling will she be left with?"

Other ideas for take away value might include:

* links to resources...(creativity, writing, food, sewing, fashion, faith)
* to make someone laugh
* to learn something new
* to not feel alone - someone else has been where you are now
* how to....(write an outline, embroider a monogram, submit to a publisher)
* motivation to get up and do something...(take a walk, start a book, write a letter0

Ask yourself what you can put into your writing that will spark the appetite like olives, refresh like lemon sorbet, satisfy like roast chicken or linger sweetly like chocolate? What's the takeaway to be savoured when "off the premises?"



  1. This analogy was very clever - and also quite true. Thanks

  2. Lorrie, I love your 'slice of life' blog. As you know, my own blog shares similarities in focus and tone, as I post about those glimpses of heaven/beauty I find in unexpected places.

    I so enjoyed your posting on how you come to your writing so that your readers are engaged and have something lovely and satisfying to 'take away.'

  3. Hi Lorrie,
    I like your way of thinking about one person while writing, and writing for that one's needs. That helps boil down all the writing angles. And of course I love all your food analogies too!
    Pam Mytroen

  4. Definitely food for thought, Lorrie. Sorry, my writing friends, but I couldn't resist. I like your idea of a list of take-away possibilities. "What's in it for them? is a very apt questions. Thanks.

  5. Lovely writing, and excellent suggestions!

  6. Thanks for this lovely metaphor of writing, the take away--I want the cupcakes. I want to look up your blog. I feel too that while my writing is faith based, I want others to feel included. That was Christ's way.


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