I realized why I enjoy cooking.
Not baking. I haven’t baked my own bread since we moved to Maryland, though I need to get back to that.
But cooking. Cooking just works for me. It helps me appreciate writing more.
When I cook, I have a challenge to myself to get everything (as close as I can, anyway) to be done as close to the same time as possible. To time the garlic bread with the spaghetti sauce with the pasta with the salad and so on. Additional challenges in this kind of thing include making a special sauce for my younger son, who has texture issues, and making sure the garlic knots and the garlic bread both come out evenly, so that all my guys get what they want to eat.
The ingredients are all over the place. I do all my preparations and open my spices and lay out any cooking tools and the pots and pans and so on… and then, I work. And I work hard. And I time the stirring of my pasta with the adding of the rosemary to the meat and so forth. For me, this is exhilarating. Each aspect of the meal to be treated with respect, of course, and to be boiled, stirred, chopped, etc. as required. And then all the timers go off and everything comes out and ta-da! Dinner for four, served in the kitchen. Everything is hot and tasty and we are all satisfied.
When I write, this is much the same. I love the ingredients that go into a story. I familiarize myself with the main ones before I begin writing. My lectures and seminars to my furniture might amuse people, but they work for me as I prepare my story for the flurry of creation. And when I write, each plot line of the story has to be timed just so, so that they resolve themselves within a chapter or two of each other. Thus, the tension is equal throughout the book and my readers are kept engaged (I hope!) as they follow the story lines. And in the end, ta-da! Conflicts resolved, everyone has reached a place of stability of one sort or another, and sometimes, I even let them have a happily ever after.
Hey, it happens!
If you’re a writer and you don’t spend some time cooking on a regular basis, I would challenge you to do so. Pay attention to the textures of your ingredients and their smells and tastes. Appreciate the sudden power of diced scallions and the way cinnamon captures air pockets in a pot of water. Inhale the steam after you take the lid off of a pot of steamed basmati rice. Immerse yourself in the experience of cooking. You might even wish to take notes. The beauty of a scene is sometimes in the small details that make it real for a reader.
Baking is fun and it is a challenge as well, but it doesn’t, for me, providing the soul-savory experience that cooking a meal does. Maybe it’s the scallions. 🙂