This month we've been invited to share a metaphor for our faith and/or our writing. I've enjoyed reading other people's metaphors. Now I invite you to think of the similarities between writing and one of my favourite desserts, lemon meringue pie (made from scratch).
I was introduced to the joy of pie making (and eating) by my paternal grandmother. We spent many hours in her kitchen, side by side, baking. We also spent many hours at her table savouring homemade food. There was always dessert at Grandma's house—like her zesty, lemon meringue pie. Just thinking of it makes my mouth water!
When making a lemon meringue pie, we gather a number of tools and ingredients. For the crust we need a bowl for mixing, measuring cups, measuring spoons, a pastry blender, flour, lard or shortening, salt, an egg, and water. We also need a pie plate and an oven. For the lemon pie filling we use a pot, more measuring cups and spoons, a whisk, a spatula, flour, sugar, water, egg yolks, salt, and lemon juice. Finally, for the meringue, we need a bowl, something to beat the egg whites, a spatula, measuring cups and spoon, egg whites, vanilla, cream of tarter, and sugar.
Writing also requires a number of tools and ingredients. The tools can vary from a pen and paper to a dictionary, thesaurus, and software like Word or Scrivener. Ingredients include nouns, verbs, adjectives, metaphors, prepositions, and punctuation. We need an idea, a hook, and some type of cohesive form, like a short story, essay, poem, etcetera, to share our ideas.
It's one thing to know what the tools and ingredients are, but it's another thing to know how to use them. Anyone can take a list of tools and ingredients and throw something together. However, it takes a recipe, some skill, knowledge, and practice to use the tools and ingredients and come up with a lemon meringue pie—especially one with a flaky crust, filling with no lumps, and fluffy meringue that melts in your mouth. There are many things that can go wrong when we make a pie. If we don't use enough lard, the crust is hard. If we use too much lard, the crust is crumbly and hard to work with. If we don't have enough heat for the filling, it won't thicken properly. If we have too much heat (or get side-tracked and don't stir consistently), our filling will scorch.
Most people know how to write their names and make simple sentences. However, it takes skill, knowledge, and practice to put sentences together to create writing that is cohesive, entices the reader to keep reading, doesn't jar the reader, and evokes emotion. Many things can go wrong with writing as well. The message can be obscured when the author mixes metaphors, or goes off on a tangent. The writing can be flat and boring if a writer leaves out the senses and just tells the story instead of helping the reader experience it.
Just as lemon meringue pie has three distinct parts, most forms of writing consist of an opening with a hook, the body where a message is shared, and a conclusion. Each part must be well put together to form a delicious dessert or an enthralling tale. A boring introduction, like flat meringue, will probably result in the piece being discarded without going any further. Telling instead of showing, like filling without enough flavouring, may also result in the reader moving on to something that is more zesty and appealing. A dissatisfying conclusion, like a tough crust, will most likely leave a bad impression on the reader. When our writing is well put together, like a delicious lemon meringue pie that tantalizes the taste buds, our readers will gladly leave positive reviews and will want to know what else we've written for them to enjoy.
Hmm. I think it's time to make another lemon meringue pie. (I still use my grandmother's recipe!)
Ruth L. Snyder enjoys making lemon meringue pies with and for her husband and five children. She is loving being a grandma and is working to pass on good memories and recipes to her grandchild. Her goal in writing is to spread hope and put a smile on the face of the reader.