Monday, 22 March 2010

lumps and all

Eyeing up some cooking apples in the kitchen I thought I'd better use them soon before they got all wrinkled. Apple pie seemed a good idea, pretty sure I could find some people happy to tuck in.
All of a sudden there was nothing I wanted more than to bake that pie.

I rushed off to the shops to get some fresh butter, rolled up my sleeves and got going.
I love baking, the feel of it, the smell, the fact that a delicious cake appears after putting some simple ingredients together.
So I was working the butter into the flour and sugar, pinch of salt, kneading it with my fingers. Lovely.
Hold on - I felt some little hard bits, what was that, the sugar?
Never mind, I wanted to stick it in the oven, get a quick result.
But they kept coming up, I couldn't ignore them - ok, I'd have a look.
Floury little lumps, search me...... On closer investigation they were dark on the inside. Chocolate sprinkles? How did they land up in the flower?
I called Rose, hoping she would come up with a perfectly innocent explanation, so I could continue making the pie without poisoning anybody.
She confirms what I already feared but tried to block out.
'Mouse droppings, mum.'

Yes, I had seen the blighters scuttling about but I didn't want to make a fuss in case someone thought they had to go. And now this.
Great. Now what?
Well of course I had to chuck it away, waste of good food, and start all over again.
With less enthusiasm, but it went down well none the less.

I am telling you this because it makes me think of a book I have been working on for quite some time now.
I made a flying start and before too long it started to look like something.
Only I couldn't get the end right. I started changing it, pulling it this way and that, adding bits, deleting chunks, trying out different styles.
You know when you paint a picture and you are quite pleased but you think, if I touch it up here, that would be perfect? But it isn't so you try to cover that up, making it worse and in the end you have spoilt the whole thing and you can't get it back to where you still liked it?
Well, that's what happened to my book.
Now what?

Thinking of the apple pie, I suppose I should just chuck it away and start all over again.
Of course, writing a book is a lot of hard work, you put in a few more hours than when baking a cake, but it is not impossible, just tough. Start again.
The real problem is the enthusiasm. You just can't do it without all the conviction, passion and devotion you can muster.
Without a burning drive, you might still turn out something that goes down well enough, it will not be what you had in mind when you started out, starry-eyed and excited.

I don't want my first, and maybe only, book to be less than its promise, even if no-one ever reads it but me.

Maybe I shouldn't have minded the lumps. Maybe they were part of it; does a story have to make perfect sense, be clever and have a happy, or at least, satisfactory ending?
Or can it still be embraced with all its imperfections?

I don't know. Should I go on regardless or drop it like a hot brick?
Like a hot pie?

Would anybody care for a slice of my pie, lumps and all?


  1. Remind me to never, never eat your apple pie. I once found weevils in my flour while making brownies for my group therapy meeting. I baked and served them anyway... I resented those people.

  2. Deanna, fancy seeing you here!
    Forget the apple pie, how about cheese fondue, café Bern?
    Might be a mouse or two there, come to think of it :)