The Writing

13 March, 2017


Look at that pollen. Just look.

I've been binge watching The Great British Baking Show on Netflix. I don't generally like reality TV, but I do like baking, and I love learning things. (I have learned that I will never try to bake a Swedish Princess Cake, for example. Or baklava from a hand-made phyllo dough. ) I have seen half a dozen baking catastrophes, and learned how to avoid or even repair them. And of course, people get emotional--weeping over a curdled custard or a failed biscuit or brutal feedback from the judges. I sometimes shout at the judges, especially Male Judge, who seems to revel in being scary.

One thing I've learned is that the judges prefer risk to safety. Try big, fail big--and get more points than timidity, safety, and perfect execution. The contestants freak out about that, like the spectacular failure will somehow be worse than the mundane one. And I think, while sometimes simple is just better when one is eating for oneself, in the context of the show, simple isn't better. You're assumed to have mastered simple a long time ago. All the simples come together to make an amazing! Or, if not an amazing, at least a this is a really great idea, but.

The thing to avoid is not trying.

Let's see. How might I make that connect with writing? I sense a lesson.

I am worrying and fretting on WIP (which is not, oh fistful of On the Bones of Gods fans, the third installment. That one's in the proving drawer, waiting for its rise. I write other things in the meantime because, well, I write.). This time, I've got a stage beta-reader. The Rat is reading, chapter by chapter. The idea here is she will catch any horrific failures before they metastasize into 93K words of unsalvageable. This practice also helps me hold onto plot threads myself. But still, you know. I worry. I am teetering on the verge of throwing out a whole chapter, which is really not a big deal (4k? Pff.) but the reason I'm teetering is not that the prose sucks, but that I don't know if I'm doing it right.

Let's ponder that. I don't know if I'm writing my own freakin' story right, with a world that comes out of my head. Who else would know? My problem isn't that I can't write, but that I'm on the edge of having to commit to this world-build. I think, oh jeez, this is boring, this is safe, but it will makes sense.  Then I think, I should try X instead, because it is NOT safe, but it could crash and burn spectacularly.

Then I retreated to Netflix and spinning thread and watching people freak out about patisserie.

There are probably biochemical reasons for this. Like, oh, losing an hour of sleep. Or the coating of yellow pollen (fucking palm trees) all over EVERYTHING.

So today--or tomorrow, if office hours run late or suck my brain out--I will try again. Not the simple option, either. Because I've mastered simple, and I need to try for awesome.