Scenario 1: It’s a little after 5 pm. Where has the day gone? Amazing Child insists she’s moments away from falling away to a shadow from hunger, and a phone call from Darling Geek shows him to be grumpy and hungry too. I check the cupboards and realize I was supposed to go to the grocery store today. Ooops. I’d call for pizza, but in the 45 minutes it takes for delivery, Amazing Child will have wasted away to nothing. Anyway, calling for pizza means that, once again, I’ve been bested by something that billions of women world-wide manage each day without a problem: Dinner.
Time for MacGyver cooking. What, you’ve never heard of MacGyver cooking? You have 3 cans of beans, 1 old lemon, 1 chicken breast, 2 hot dog buns, capers (how did those get in the cupboard?), 4 frostbitten fish sticks, and a banana. You have 27 minutes. GO! Make dinner! *
Scenario 2: I’m making one of Mom’s recipes. Her recipe calls for a 13- ounce can. I look at my can—it’s 12 ounces. I call Mom. She says “Oh, don’t worry, they changed the amount in the cans 15 years ago. Just dump it in.”
“But, But, But,” I sputter, “I’m an ounce short. Won’t that screw it up?”
“Nah,” Mom says, “just add a little extra water to make up the difference if you’re worried.”
“A little? Define ‘a little.’”
“Oh, I don’t know. Add some until it looks right.”
HUH? What does “right” look like? Can I just hold the phone over the pot and let her tell me when it looks “right?” Sadly, I don’t have a video phone, so Mom is zero help there. If I knew what “right” looked like, I wouldn’t have made the phone call in the first place.
Cooking is always an adventure in my house. One of my favorite recipes is for “Surprise Gravy.” It’s always a surprise if it turns out to be edible or not.
Seems as though I write a lot like I cook. There’s MacGyver writing, where I have a couple of interesting characters, a couple of ideas for cute scenes I’d like them to be in, and maybe a great piece of dialogue I want to stick in somewhere. I have 275 pages to fill: GO! Write a book.
Or I’ll have a scene. It’s not working, but I don’t know why. I send it out for comments and get remarks like, “Well there’s something missing ...”
“Okay, so what does it need?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe alpha up your hero. Or make the heroine react a different way. Or…”
Argh! Can you vague that up for me a bit more?
So, my writing is a lot like my cooking. I’m a pantser (but I seem to be in some good company). And though MacGyver always makes his thingamajig work perfectly the first time and saves the day while my book often needs some rewriting, I still get it done in the end. And sometimes, I’m left playing with a scene trying to make it “look right” with no clue as to how. But once it looks right, I know it.
However you write it, be proud of yourself for getting it written. Then make your Darling take you out for dinner.
*If anyone actually said to themselves, “Oh, I can make a yummy dinner out of that,” don’t tell me. I’m shamed enough as it is. (And just a little grossed out.)
Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day!