Words and Roast…Best Served Old

Making dinner last night I had an epiphany

*Ok, well to be honest, and to further understand the meaning of this post, I have to confess I was merely heating up dinner*

Anyway.

Yesterday, I made a fantastic roast dinner. Big hunk of chuck, russet potatoes, carrots, added water and a variety of seasonings and then topped it all off with three cloves of garlic.

My kids are picky and one is a very slooooow eater, and they even scarfed it up.

So yes, it was delicious.

Now, today was leftover day. Heat up whats left on low and let it simmer for at least half an hour to activate all the goodness, throw some fresh Ciabiattia bread slathered with butter in the oven to get all hot and crispy and you’ve got another great meal.

Anyway.

As I ate tonight, I noticed everything in the roast tasted better. The flavors of the seasoning, meat, veggies, and garlic were no longer totally distinct from the other. It all had mingled together until each bite was savory perfection.

Now is where I circle this back around to writing 🙂

Is it possible that writing could be looked at this in a similar manner?

Figure out your meal plan=getting the “big idea” to your novel

Gather all the ingredients=doing your research, figuring out characters

Prepping the food (cutting veggies, searing meat, etc)=Writing the outline

Actually cooking the meal=First draft

Checking on progress, reseasoning to taste=Revising and rewriting

Leftovers in the fridge=letting your work rest and moving on to other projects, learning more about the craft of writing itself, attending conferences, networking

Being pleasantly surprised by leftovers=You left your draft alone and now all your work is about to pay off on the next round of edits.  You’ve gained the skills needed to fix plot holes, character issues, punctuation and grammar problems, etc…

Ok, I just REALLY took the long way around the barn to make a simple point.

What are your thoughts about letting your work rest while focusing on other writing related activities? Is that part of your writing process?

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17 thoughts on “Words and Roast…Best Served Old

  1. I love your analogy! I always refer to the breaks I take from my WIP as the “marinade.” Essentially, that’s what it is. In order to get that fresh eye and clear head you HAVE to take a break–for me like 2-3 weeks. I find it enriches my projects so much.
    I’ve heard some writers don’t feel a draft is ready to submit until you’ve sat on it for at least a year. That seems a little long IMO, but I can see how the improvements would be there.

    BTW I have one very picky eater and one garbage disposal. lol

  2. I think that analogy beats my moose leg one! That’s totally how I work. Sometimes I don’t wait as long, other times I wait longer than usual. It just depends on the project. Now I’m all hungry… oh, and on the record of picky eaters, my sister and I lived off of like buttered pasta, raw spaghetti noodles and bologna until we were in high school… when we finally began to eat like normal humans…

  3. Interesting anology. I can see how that would work.

    Unfortunately, when I try to let things “stay in the fridge” to gain a fresh perspective…. I usually never come back. S’pose that’s more of a personal bad habit than anything else- I keep telling myself that when I write something actually worth going back and editing, I’ll be motivated to do it.

    I’m one of those picky eaters =P Me being a vegetarian in a house of omnivores has made it a bit difficult for my mom, but after nine years we seem to have figured out a system. The secret? Microwavable veggie burgers.

  4. PK,

    A year? That seems really long. I’m with you on taking a few weeks…just enough to get the “fresh” off, and just enough to come back strong.

    I love the garbage disposal phrase. Isn’t it funny how kids habits are different?

    Christi

  5. A. Grey,

    Naaah, you still bring it with the moose leg one 🙂

    I was a super picky eater in my younger years and tried valiently to convince my mom I was allergic to pork and beans and chili.

    Thanks for visiting,

    Christi

  6. Aloha,

    I’ve been guilty of letting my work sit “in the fridge” for too long too while I handled things in my real life 🙂

    The delay made it really hard to get back into it.

    Microwavable veggie burgers sound intriguing…I’ll have to look for those the next time I’m shopping since real hamburgers don’t go over well for the picky child. Thanks for the suggestion 🙂

    Christi

    • Sometimes real life gets in the way when you’d much rather be writing… I agree. Shove responsibility away and it shoves right back.

      Try Morning Star brand. The tomato-basil pizza burgers and the fake chicken patties are my personal favorites… But all their stuff is good. The tofu chicken nuggets, too, although everyone instinctively shies away from “tofu”. It’s only gross in cold, block form!

  7. I could use the example of Italians and left over pasta. My son loved cold pizza for breakfast. Kids? Don’t start. The younger one, the girl was so picky, I had to buy a set of “monkey” dishes to make sure none of her food touched. If it was raining she wouldn’t eat. If it was too sunny, she wouldn’t eat. Now she takes cooking classes and belongs to a baking club.

    Learning the nuances of writing is like my daughter’s palate. Eventually, we develop a good sense of what we are doing. I am in the let it rest school of thought. Stories, like fine wine, need time to rest and time to ferment.

    Great post … tongue in cheek … it is food for thought 🙂

  8. Ramblings,

    Mine still use the “monkey” dishes…we have two sets 🙂

    I’m Italian and LOVE cold pizza for breakfast. Not sure why, but the taste is just better in the morning.

    Christi

  9. funny how everything, everything, a writers does reminds her/him or writing !! 🙂

    I def think stepping away from a piece is important. Fresh eyes, brings me to the piece as a reader. Essential!
    oh, and I like today’s quote 🙂

  10. Jennifer,

    I was so glad to read your comment, because sometimes I think I’m the only one who can look at the carpet’s need to be vacuumed and come up with a massive writing analogy.

    Thanks for visiting 🙂

    Christi

  11. I really like that analogy, Christi!

    Pleasantly surprised by the left-overs is always fun!

    AS anxious as we sometimes are to declare our work completed it really is a good idea to let it rest. Being too close to the work doesn’t allow us the objectivity that we need. There have been times when I wish I had let a particular work set a bit longer.

  12. Laura,

    I let mine “simmer” over the holidays and now I have finally carved out some time this weekend to “take it out of the fridge”.

    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Good to hear from you. 🙂

    Christi

  13. Letting a first draft rest for a couple weeks is my norm… maybe even a month. I need to be able to go back to it with fresh eyes, but I can’t bear to stay away too long.

    Neat analogy! I love leftovers. 🙂

  14. Carol,

    This was my weekend of “taking it out of the fridge”. It is unbelievable how much stuff I miss when I’m in the moment of revising/writing. I saw three things right away that needed changing.

    Thanks for visiting :). I’m really enjoying your blog posts lately!

    Christi

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