Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Creative Cooking vs. Creative Writing

Yesterday I felt frustrated over the writing, so I just hung out in the kitchen for several hours cooking. No one was home, who would eat? I didn't care. I could always take it to the neighbors. I wanted to do something creative that could be enjoyed instantly by people, unlike writing which takes forever to make good, to finish, then it has to be accepted for publication, then it takes forever in editing, until finally it comes out in the form of a book--oh happy day! oh what brief joy!-- for it takes forever for people to read it and decide if they like it or not, and when they do, you are happy, and when they don't, you are sad. And the pay is awful.

Better to take an hour or two in the kitchen stirring pots of unusual combinations and flavors, baking the best chocolate cake ever from scratch, with the most delicious fudge icing. No one complains that it needs more editing, or that it doesn't flow right, or that it's too depressing, or that they can't relate. No one says, "I really wanted to like this, but...." No one says anything. They are too busy eating happily and all is well. This is why I like creative cooking.

Still, creative writing remains in the shadows calling my name-- the Dark Master who whispers, sings, calls out to me, who beckons and I can't say no. Oh, how I hate him.

57 comments:

  1. Great post! I like the comparison between baking and creative writing and the contrast between the two.

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  2. I wish I was your neighbor all that yummy food and yep you are right creative cooking is instantly rewarding compared to months and months of writing and editing.

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  3. Yum! Remind me to visit you when you have writer's block. ;)

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  4. I love this~ I creatively cook, but my family is spoiled, if it doesn't come out like the last one.I hear all about it. Why did you do it this way, I liked it better, like this...so I guess my family is a bunch of food critics or food editors...lol!

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  5. I have to confess to having no draw whatsoever to the kitchen. I can be urged or coerced now and again, but mostly... ick. (hubby is our cook) You've made me think about it though, in context of instant gratification versus longer term, and I am a marathoner in all things. If something has to be done relatively quickly, I rush and take no care. If I have time, I can lovelingly apply myself for YEARS and not lose interest. I like the anticipation part.

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  6. And why exactly am I not your neighbor? Darn it. I love to cook too. There's something magical when it comes out so perfect and everyone enjoys it. Writing ... not so much! :D

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  7. I wish I was drawn to the kitchen more! Lately it's become more an act of atonemnet for all the domestic neglect I'm guilty of. SIGH!

    Happy Wednesday, Karen.

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  8. I completely relate. Too bad I'm not a cook! LOL I could use another avenue to vent my frustrations. I do use my treadmill for that, but when I'm dog tired, the treadmill won't do!

    Writing- a wicked task-master!

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  9. Yes, creative cooking is so saisfying for tastebuds, tummy and ego.
    Interesting that creativity needs other outlets than the preferred mode. Your writing takes holidays in cooking. My son who is a chef takes a mental break into music and words. I leave the creative world of fiber long enough to write and take photographs.
    I cook creatively, too, but, it doesn't always result in people clamoring for a rerun!

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  10. Good post! I always bake when I'm frustrated with my writing - or in this sense, when I have partials and fulls out and I hear nothing ...

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  11. Steena, and always with chocolate, right?

    Stephanie, I don't always cook as an alternative to writing, but my family appreciates it when I do. Especially since when writing I 'm cloistered for days and they eat what they make, or get some random thing I throw together mindlessly.

    Melissa, exercise would definitely be better for my weight problem than cooking. Dang it.

    Talli, I don't cook when I'm really into the writing. Only when I'm done, as in I AM SO DONE WITH YOU.

    Brenda, Exactly!!

    Hart, That is so interesting. It has to be hard or you don't value it. No wonder you're a success at all the hard stuff!

    Ellie, your family as food critics and editors LOL!

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  12. This post just made me v-e-r-y hungry. And happy :)

    I like the way you think--baking is an outlet many writers should use. You end up forgetting about your writing woes AND eating something yummy at the same time. Double win.

    Fun post!

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  13. I haven't cooked in a very long time. I've hit a snag in the ms. and I've been cleaning the house to work it out. So far no luck. Perhaps I should make a stew. It's supposed to rain tonight.

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  14. Piedmont W., Cleaning works like cooking. It clears the mind while accomplishing something. I highly recommend the stew.

    Amparo, I need to utilize the exercise outlet more often too. Esp. after eating that delicious chocolate cake!

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  15. I'm feeling very hungry now. What a great way to divert your creative energies when the muse is having a lunch break! LOL! Good for you.

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  16. Since I am currently writing a Cajun cookbook, creative cooking and writing are explicitly intertwined. I love to do both, but must agree with you about the gratification factor.

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  17. Marguerite, I will BUY that cookbook! Even tho I have 6 dozen cookbooks, I don't have a Cajun one.

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  18. Sounds scumptious! I'd have no trouble liking that chocolate cake!
    Interesting to hear your creative muse is a man - the dark master! Oh my!:)

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  19. Creativity is creativity and it always fills the heart (and in this case the tummy, too). ;)

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  20. Oh dear ... did something happen that made you sad? :o(

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  21. Jessica, No just the usual ups and downs of the psychotic writer.

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  22. I really like the comparison between creative cooking and writing. At least the creative cooking is immediate gratification--I'm going to have to do more of that!

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  23. Great post, it is always handy to have another creative outlet with more immediate results than novel writing. I do enjoy cooking, though I usually am out of the ingredients I'd want or they've gone bad when I want to experiment. For me jewelery making is a good stand in for my short term creative outlet. Depending on what I'm working on I can have a finished piece to enjoy within an hour or two.

    With food I also enjoy baking. One of my favorite things to make is tarts, which I sometimes scratch make the dough for. Other times I buy the pre-mix pie crust. If time is a factor the already rolled out stuff is great.

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  24. Claire, mmmm tarts. When she was little, my daughter made a simple recipe called jam tarts, made in muffin tins, with a kind of shortbread crust and a spoonful of jam then baked. They were full of buttery, fruity goodness. For their birthdays, everyone wanted her to make jam tarts as a present. In addition to the cake of course.

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  25. Gawd, I know what you mean! I have a deadline for the fourth book - luckily next summer! because I'm feeling a bit tard (that's tired for you yankees *laughing! GRIN*)

    I haven't cooked in so long because GMR cooks - but maybe that's what I need to do -- I like to bake - I love sweets, maybe I should bake something :-D

    Must let me know soon as you have something publsihed, or if you have, so I can read it and tout it and shout whahooo!

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  26. Count on me to eat whatever you cook. I'm always game for good food.

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  27. Now I have to run to the kitchen. Yum! But it's true. Instant gratification is nice sometimes.

    Actually, this morning I tried to mix the two . . . yeah, not so smart. Almost burned everything!

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  28. Creative minds think alike! I was in the kitchen yesterday as well. I made a huge batch of the yummiest vegetarian chili - the whole neighborhood full of meat eaters loves my chili! It was a cool, cloudy day and seemed like perfect cooking weather. From chopping the onions and shallots, to mincing the garlic to sauteeing them together - I love that smell. Cooking is creative and tasty! I also made a batch of pumpkin muffins for dessert. If only I had a bread maker...

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  29. Karen, I am with you on the writing front, it is painstaking and like some kind of weird addiction, maybe a compulsive disorder thing.
    And the pay is lousy....but then again, we are optimists, and the Dark Master is very insistent.
    Glad you had a great baking day.

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  30. THat's great advice. If you can't be creative in one, be creative in another.

    CD

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  31. At least you're keeping busy and putting your energy to good use!

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  32. I know exactly how you feel. Once in critique we had someone who made negative comments. I couldn't write on one of many projects for over a year because of this person. They don't come anymore.
    Nancy
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

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  33. I so relate to this post. I love to cook, especially for appreciative eaters. You're right, cooking is deeply creative, and a great antidote for many of the frustrations in a writer's life.

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  34. Mmmm, cooking. I made maple syrup and cream of broccoli soup yesterday. I wanted to make french bread to go with the soup but didn't feel like doing that many dishes. Too bad my new place doesn't have a dishwasher.

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  35. I love your line, 'no one says, I really wanted to like this, but ....' That says it all! Hurrah for chocolate cake - it always comes to the rescue one way or another.

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  36. LOL! chocolate cake makes everything better!

    You're right, though. Dang slow writing process can really get you down sometimes... Wish you could ship the cake~ ;p

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  37. This is great. For me, food soothes everything. Yeah, I'm an emotional eater and I know it's bad, but I LOVE food. And chocolate cake with fudge frosting? Even better!! Funny how I'm eating a chocolate bar while reading this. Lol

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  38. Maybe I need to go make some cookies...

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  39. Well after reading these posts, you have a ready made party waiting for you:)

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  40. The chocolate cake sounds delicious! I mostly eat when I'm frustrated with the writing. =)

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  41. Can I drop by the next time you have writer's block? Yum!

    On a more serious note, sometimes it's best to take a step back, away from your writing. We all suffer from burnout sometimes.

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  42. Sometimes I hate him too :( But I do love to cook! So maybe I need to do a little more of that with some immediate happy outcomes :)

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  43. Awwww embrace the Dark Master!!! :-) Or at least offer him some of your yummy food!!!!

    Take care
    x

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  44. Funny how a different creative activity can be the welcome release that we need , kind of like the relief of the shade when we can't stick the heat of the sun.
    Chocolate cake? I'm on my way over if there's any left!

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  45. Mimi, Like I didn't get enough food at the BBQ! Yes there's plenty left, come on over!

    Kitty, "embrace the Dark Master" LOL. I do, much too often. Good thing he's imaginary cuz I am happily married.

    demery, I can tell that you understand this intense love-hate relationship with the Dark Master.

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  46. I too find that cooking can be such a creative and therapeutic activity. Neat post!

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my story... I appreciate your advice... :-))

    Doris

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  47. when I want instant gratification, I make a card, and then when I am frustrated with that I get take-out... What's my point? Apparently I have none. Nice to stumble across your blog, betting the people you cook for are happy when you have writer's block!!!

    Cheers
    Tracy
    www.goodgirlgoneaverage.blogspot.com

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  48. Ha, ha! Writers can't hide from writing, can we? But you're on to something--we all need more than just writing as a creative outlet.It can be tense as well as estatically pleasurable. I suppose that's why every writer I know paints, photographs, or cooks. Or all three. :o)

    Have a great night, Karen!

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  49. I hear ya! And now I want chocolate cake...

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  50. My problem is I get too creative in the kitchen - and when my husband asks if I can duplicate the recipe, I have to admit no, I probably can't!

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  51. Diane, that's happened to me quite often as well. I've learned to write them down when they're successes, before I forget what went in.

    Alexandra, can I ship cake to Norway?

    Jackee, interesting...I tried painting & photography then settled on cooking as it works best with my always hungry family.

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  52. I love cooking too! I see the connection. Creating and criticism. At least that is the way it is in my house filled with picky eaters. But I do have a houseful of chocoholics. Your cake sounds delicious. Any new chocolate dessert recipes are more than welcome.

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  53. You are SO hilarious! What a fun neighbor you must be, do you think your neighbors sort of enjoy knowing you are frustrated since it means yummy food for them? Just kidding, I am sure that they feel sad for you while enjoying your melancholy food. :0)

    Carol G.

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  54. Oh that bit about writing - the highs, the lows, the really lows, the really highs... :)

    I wish I had my own kitchen. I would bake up a storm! First on the list is cornflake cakes.

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  55. I sometimes think I'm cursed because I have that need to write ;)
    I love to cook but unfortunately I lvoe to eat too ;) Writing and eating don't go well together-- or so says my scales.

    lyn
    W.I.P. It: A Writer's Journey

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  56. It does always help to do something else creative when our writing isn't going so well. I like to cook for the therapy but only when I'm in the mood. Otherwise cooking a chore.

    Jai

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  57. Oh I've made some amazing creations in the kitchen, not all edible but the cooking part was fun! ;) Can I have some of that chocolate cake now please?

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