December 11th, 2009


What I learned about writing when I screwed up brownies . . .

Okay, stick with me in the post. I had a lightbulb moment and you need to hear (read) me out. . .

This week I've been on an editing rollercoaster. No, that is a lie. I've been on an insecurity rollercoaster. I thought baking would stop the madness. It did . . . in convoluted way. Wednesday night I made brownies. Not just your garden variety-open-up-a-box-and-add-an-egg brownies. My special ones that everyone loves. But I wanted to experiment. I wanted something gooey and chewy, so I added marshmellows. Now this was one of those moments I would mark as Exhibit A . . . no B . . . no, I have to be at Z by now . . . as proof that anyone can get a Ph.D. I, not thinking, put the marshmellows in the batter. When I removed the brownies, I waited the required five minutes for them to cool enough so I would not burn my tongue and noticed no marshmellows. Huh? What happened to my marsh . . .? Marshmellows are sugar . . . sugar melts in heat. No yummy, gooey, goodness. I was crestfallen. I ate one, sighed with disappointment and forgot about them. Until the next day. I told my co-workers about my tragedy (if you knew me you would know any subpar baking is considered a tragedy). Everyone looked at me like I had three heads and asked for the brownies. I was not about to let others see my shameful display of baking. But after much badgering I caved and promised to bring disaster-brownies to work. When I came home last night, I ate another brownie, an attempt to assuage my sadness about my error. And guess what. I actually liked them. They were gooey. Just not in the way I envisioned. I felt hopeful. When I took them to work today, I held my head . . . half dropped in shame (let's face it, in my mind they're still subpar).

Before I get to everyone's reaction, I need to tell you about my panic attack last night. After discovering my brownies were in fact tolerable, I decided my writing was not. I was convinced monkeys could do a better job. I considered a long-standing seperation from Ebony (my computer). I was mad at myself. I recall thinking, "Why did I start this craziness? I could be watching t.v., reading the book I really want to read." "Why are my friends feeding my delusion?" "Why can't I just let this story go?" "I need cake and all have are brownies that remind me of yet another inadequacy."

At ten o'clock I turned off Ebony, crawled into bed, and ended my day convinced I was a joke and my friends were cruel liars.

Fast forward ten hours. I took brownies to work. Everyone loved them. Of course. They're an easy crowd. Come on, homemade brownies for free. What's not to love?

I opened my story and read the same words that angered me last night. The words that convinced me I was a boil in the writing world. And today . . . the words looked okay, tolerable . . . good. Not perfect, but they weren't a disaster. Much like my brownies.

So here's the lesson . . .I pictured in mind what my brownies should look and taste like. When the final product did not match my mental image, I decided my brownies were a blemish on society. When I write, I picture in my mind what my words and characters should look like on the page. When the final product did not match my mental image, I decided my writing sucked. This thinking is . . . JACKED UP!!! Can my writing be better? Sure. Can my brownies be better? Heck yes! In my mind everything is perfect. That image keeps me working, striving. But I dare say, it AIN'T obtainable. Tonight I don't feel like the worst writer ever.

I'm taking the night off. My co-workers ate all my brownies . . . I'm miffed. I really want one. Those things were good.

Hugs and Encouragement!
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