Thursday, February 9, 2012

Writing Isn't Baking a Pie

Writing isn’t baking a pie. I see recipes for writing all the time and I think how part of me wishes they worked so I could find the recipe and every time I’d make a very nice pie and that would be that. No more worrying and driving myself crazy about whether this or that works or doesn’t work or how to make a character really real instead of just a shadow of real. OR the big question—what am I missing in this manuscript? Parts of it sound right but parts of it don’t. I want to ignore this sense of missing but I just can’t quite fool myself into thinking it works and sometimes it haunts me.

If I had a recipe I could just put it all together, bake, and serve and people would eat (well, not literally) my book and they would say, “Pretty good.” Maybe there are writers who do this. A few—not many.

So, yes, I wish for this sometimes. BUT where’s the fun in that? Oh, maybe once or twice it would be fun, but without the struggle, the failures and the hard-earned victories, writing wouldn’t be the adventure that it is. I look at writers like Ray Bradbury and Elmore Leonard, writers in their 80s, who say they still love writing, it still gets them out of bed in the morning. That’s a wonderful thing. The act of writing enriches a life.

Recipes don’t work but maybe it’s a good thing they don’t

4 comments:

Andrea Mack said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. I'm always hoping that I can find some process or method to make writing a novel easier, but each one is different, with different aspects I need to focus on.

brian yansky said...

Thanks, Andrea. That's another good point. Each novel requires what it requires. You can apply things you've learned but the situations are all different so the solutions to the character's problems, wants, needs, fears etc...and the story itself--all different.

Videogame Genius said...
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Yvonne Kurtz said...

I think that part of the reason that we don't want a recipe for our writing pie is that when we read a book, we crave a different point of view or a different insight into life--something we haven't thought of. And if we take a completely different approach to writing a story, so much the better. Sometimes I like my pie with whipped cream, but I get bored after one or two of those. I want to move on to meringue and then the next day, put the topping on the bottom, then after that, substitute meat or vegetables for the sugar. Then turn the heat down to 320 and bake for 2 hours and see what happens. --Yvonne Kurtz