Yesterday, I was lucky / organised / sensible / delusional enough to walk away from my computer and I spent three hours in a cooking class. I badly needed to have some time out from my family / my world / my office / my ‘to do’ list...
I had a glorious epiphany.
Writing is JUST like cooking. It is. It is incredible methodical. As a form of expressiveness, it is accessible and when ‘serving’ to others, can be incredibly satisfying. As each punter arrived, glancing around, completely unsure of what to do next, I was reminded of the conversations I have had with first manuscript writers. We were all thinking, ‘what do we do now?’
As I stood at my selected station (publisher website) I tried to makes sense of the reams of paper, the instructions, the lists, the recipes (submissions guidelines), I had that overwhelming sense that I could drown unless I took a big deep breath and remembered exactly why I had arrived at this point (author plan).
We introduced ourselves (the pitch!) to the chef who would be taking the class. I certainly had that feeling of wanting to impress, after all, this person in front of me had already been deemed by his peers to be suitable to impart a great need of knowledge. This chef (the publisher) was experienced, with the industry and the products.
As we felt more comfortable, the chef began with an overview of what we would be doing for the day, the expected outcome and concluded by beseechingly inviting questions as deemed necessary by us mere mortals (the kind publisher who actually answers the most outlandish or the most inane questions with aplomb, should you be lucky enough to get past the receptionist).
Each of us was invited to step up to the front bench and actually sample one of the key ingredients. This ingredient (words) was to be used throughout all the recipes.
We began with a review of some rudimentary techniques (writer’s workshops). As we watched the dough being kneaded, it was inevitable that someone asked if it was appropriate to use a food processor (impatient writer / shortcut). Our chef remarked that of course it was possible, but without understanding the fundamentals, it wasn’t appropriate to break the rules and look for other ways to achieve the same outcome (the value of longer writing courses and giving time to learning the craft).
Moving from bench to bench (genre to genre) we experimented with different preparation techniques (writing longhand vs computer, writing at home vs in a cafe)
Each individual was invited to actually feel, first hand, what it was like to prepare the final product. We were all amazed at how different the results were from each individual, even though we had all listened to the same instruction (our manuscripts!).
Completing the recipes, we were celebrating how much knowledge we had acquired, with a glass of wine in hand, discussing food, food, food (writers festivals). The chef (publisher) was putting the finishing touches on before the feast (launch).
We all ‘ooohed’ and ‘aaahhhed’ and with a knowing smile and a nod, acknowledged what we had created (writers together) and then demolished the meal (read madly).
Suffice it to say, with a full belly, completely satiated socially as well as physically, I returned gleefully back to my desk. After all, it is an endeavour I am very familiar with, even if I didn’t believe that myself a few hours ago!