Saturday, October 23, 2010

Writing Within the Pizza Box

Your stomach growls. You know what you want. And not the frozen kind, either. The real thing. Steaming. Filling. Fulfilling. Heavy and hearty with all the good stuff. It’s indulgent – satisfying, and only the best kind won’t end up as leftovers the next day. All in a cardboard box.


The base comes first – thin crust, thick crust – the yeast has created the heaviest, richest dough. The plot. Your idea has grown, risen, creating a base from which to start.

The sauce – the glue of the idea – is what separates the base from the ingredients, yet holds it together. Marrying the ingredients with the dough – enhancing the flavour of the ingredients. Sometimes spicy, yet sometimes mild, and sometimes not always the favourite but always smooth and rich. Rich and perfect grammar and punctuation is necessary.

Countless ingredients, or words, to choose from, seemingly thrown together. But when in the right combination can be a masterpiece. Choose those ingredients wisely – some don’t go well together, some do. It’s the writer’s job to decide and play with what works in epicurean harmony together. The right chef can create magic.

If you’re lucky, the delivery guy, chef, agent, critic, or editor hasn’t messed up your order; changed it to something that you didn’t intend. If so – and at a risk, mind you – send it back. Rewrite. Start over. You’ll be starving and anxious while you wait, but the wait for perfection will be worth it – sometimes they know what’s best. But stay true to your heart, true to what you want, in your writing. You know what you want, what you crave. But be willing to try something new. Be open to change.

You open the box – the steam and saliva-inducing smell rewards you. You think “This is IT!” – perfection. But you look closer. Grease pooling between the olives needs to be dabbed with a napkin – excess words that might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but contribute nothing to your story except boosting your already fragile, yet hungry, ego, need to go. Those olives, onions and anchovies are too much. Like editing, you painstakingly pick out each unwanted bit. But remember, it’s in the name of perfection.

Sometimes you need to put those olives in – it’s what the editor wants. It won’t completely RUIN everything, but give them a try. Who knows, you might like it, and want more next time.

As the hot cheese dribbles on your chin, then burns the roof of your mouth, don’t worry. The pain will go away. Criticism, self-doubt, and rejection all sting – but within time, the burn heals, and you learn from it. You are ready for next time.

And then you open the next box, anxious and starving to try again, and dive in.

Don't forget the antacids.

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