I’m back in my kitchen again. It’s my retreat when things go awry. Especially with my writing.
This year, it’s getting the novel done. But I’m a real believer in having multiple projects. It gives me a variety of things to work on when my main project gets me… frustrated. So I usually have at least two things to work on. Right now, it’s three. All in different stages.
The novel is well… the novel.
The short story is barely begun.
The novella is in editing. Enter freak out mode. How do I fix the errors? Why can’t I just get it done? Finish it? Do it now! Do it yesterday. Gotta get a cover, a publisher, a drink…
I need to slow myself down, so I remember some good advice I received once: Write quickly, but edit slowly.
Patience isn’t my strongest quality, so here’s how I exercise that muscle:
I make caramel. Salted caramel sauce, to be exact.
Making caramel is an exercise in patience because it has very few ingredients and a fairly precise crafting method. Once you get the sugar and water in the pot on the heat, you can’t do anything. You can’t stir it. You can’t fiddle with it. Nothing. Not until it turns that lovely amber color that means time to add the cream.
Then you stir like a madwoman.
But until then, you wait.
Add cream too early and you lose the lovely deep rich color of the sauce. Add it too late and you get a charred, smoking, gag-inspiring mess.
With a little patience, you can craft a gorgeous silky sauce that would be a welcome accompaniment to ice cream, bread pudding, or frosting for cupcakes.
Also with a little patience, you can see the holes in your story that need filling. The places where you’ve assumed the reader knows what’s in your head. It will become clear to you what a character should be doing while he says his action-hero catch phrase. Or the words of that magical spell your heroine is casting.
If you still need help exercising patience, pour a little caramel sauce on something, anything. Even your finger. Enjoy it. Savor it.
Then get to writing.