Thursday, November 13, 2008

Writing is like cooking

When I was a teenager and decided I wanted to learn how to cook, I took on spaghetti as my first choice. I had watched my mother do it countless times, and it seemed like an easy feat. After setting about the task, I wondered just how she made cooking look so easy. It wasn’t really. There was a lot of time spent at the sink, standing, stirring, cutting and chopping. I quickly realized that cooking was an art and it required dutiful observance to the rules.

When I make spaghetti, I buy only the freshest ingredients, tomatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and ground meat. I find healthy versions of this, and have made it with turkey, pork and beef. Pasta is a major player in spaghetti so I make sure I pick a good brand (although I would love to make my own one day!)

In preparation for the batch of spaghetti, I cut up the vegetables and brown the meat, meticulously keeping cross contamination of meat to veggies. I boil the pasta in its happy red pot until it is just the right consistency. When I am ready for the big finish, I ladle the noodles onto a colorful dish, top it with a batch of the meat sauce, and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top for a zing.

Writing is a lot like cooking. You have to follow some guidelines, like use the best ingredients, prepare it well, and send it to the table looking its best.

Don’t settle for stale words! Find a new dictionary, or thesaurus and challenge yourself to test those “taste buds” and try to find new words, new ways of saying things. Then, take those fabulous words, sentences, and paragraphs and put them into a document that makes every reader sigh. Wake their senses! Throw in an extra dose of spice. Make your writing appear pleasing to the eye. Scoop it out of its usual plain wrapping and present it to the public on a glamorous new plate that will make your readers say “ah”.

Change is good, but too much veering from the norm may make your reader (or dinner guest!) turn in the opposite direction. Don’t do things that send them for the nearest diner to get their fill of fiction, or fettucini.


Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Kim, you're making me crave spaghetti, big time. Wonderful piece. I enjoy hearing about author's pasts - especially fun stories like this. Thanks for sharing it with us, and for the apt analogies with writing. ;o)

Kim Smith said...

lol thanks Aaron ;) My mother would be so proud of me today. She always wanted to be published, and never was. Now I am not only published, but talking about her spaghetti on a public forum!!

s.w. vaughn said...

Mmmm, fettucini!!

Oh, wait. We're talking about writing, right? LOL

Wonderful analogy, Kim. Or, as Marisa Tomei would say, "dead-on balls accurate (it's an industry term)".

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

What a wonderful analogy, is right! You're absolutely spot on. If you don't pay attention and follow some type of guideline, the dinner is spoiled.

The spaghetti sounds wonderful.