Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Piece of Cake (If Only Writing Was One)

Writing a novel is one of those things where you can have your cake and eat it too.

You know, if you can finish it. And recently I read some statistics that I'm too lazy to pull up a link to (okay not really) that says that 75% of the people who attempt to create a novel won't finish it.

Why is that? Especially when we all thought publishing was the biggest obstacle?

Because it really isn't.

The finished product is what you are trying to sell. So if you can't finish that, there's nothing to be sold.

And even if you are that glorious 25% that makes it through their manuscript, that doesn't mean that you've baked a good product. And that fact--the fact that you could have poured your soul into something for months and years only to be left with an undesirable product is enough to make you scared of actually trying in the first place.

But a lot of things are scary. A lot of things scare me. Cake usually doesn't, but it might as well if I'm too afraid to write.

If you haven't guessed the them of this post, then the following picture will explain it for you.

Scared of me already? Just wait and see what I'll do to your thighs!

Cake! Somewhere along getting dressed for the day and coming down stairs, the thought randomly occurred to me. I wasn't looking for an analogy of how writing was for me, but it came anyway.

Written works and the confection are similar in the sense of how they are both made, how they are supposed to appear, and how they are ultimately made for public consumption.  I've broken it down into three categories.

You put in a bunch of ingredients in a pan, put it in the oven and hope that everything turns out well. Writing is sort of the same. Except your pan is your word processor, your oven = your computer, and your ingredients are words.

When you bake, you try no to deviate from the from the instructions. However, when you write, you kind of have to if you want to come across as being original.

But there is a balance between adding your own personal kick and making something completely bogus. And you can taste the batter, decide if you're really on the right track, but once its in the oven there's not much you can do. And when the cake comes out all done, whether it's deflating on the side, or plump and tasty looking, the product is usually much different than you could have ever imagined in it's elementary stages. And its a sight--good, but usually kind of bad--worth seeing. Don't give up too quickly.

Don't judge a book by its cover. But we do anyway. I do. Personally I resist books that look old and books that have people on them. Why? I don't know. I'm just picky in the worst possible ways. Now going back to cakes. Most people expect a cake to have frosting on it, right? Right. So does that mean that you have to have sparklers on the end, and miniature cars and figurines dancing to a micro-music chip inside the cake? No. Actually, most would prefer one without that. An author needs to know what is necessary. Most cakes are not complete without frosting. So have frosting. But don't slap in on and say "There. Are you happy now world?" Because no one likes a half-assed attempt. They are paying money for that cake/book. So have a nice cover. A dynamic summary. Something that you know will catch someone's attention. Because at a bake sale/ book store what is going to make your work special? Eye-popping frosting!

So someone has bought your book/cake! But is that all you want? Or do you want that person to actually enjoy it, instead of spitting it out back at your face, and writing hurtful reviews about you on their blog/goodreeds? I don't think I have to answer that for you. Pay attention to the substance. Try to be original (please refer to preparation) but not too far fetched. Because people would probably prefer a bland cake/book over a disgusting one. Writing is work. And that work should shine above everything else. And if it's not shining, you may have to start over again. And again. And until you've mastered the culinary art of the story you want to tell.

So what are you waiting for? Go bake your f*#@ing cake! It doesn't really matter if you don't know what your getting into. Just know what you're getting out of it.

Just don't over-indulge in the cake eating. Then writing won't be your only problem...

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