A Recipe for Writing

Writing can be like cooking. You have the plot, like the pasta. Sometimes its fantasy, or mystery, or spaghetti, fettuccini or penne. But you can’t just have plain noodles. You need detail, a good sauce. And sometimes sauce can be Ragu or Prego, but sometimes it needs to be something more. As a writer, sometimes you can be pulled to go beyond that and make art, crushing tomatoes from your own garden and mixing spices, or melting fancy cheeses carefully with a cream. This is what brings the flavor to the plot. This sauce differentiates your story from all the other pasta dishes that have ever been made. This is the hard part. The plot can be easy. Yes, you have to cook it just right, but not much more than that. The sauce will carry the pasta, make it more. Without a good sauce, people could say of your story ‘A nice plot, but the story was lacking.’ Like if someone said ‘the pasta was cooked perfectly! But it came off very bland.’  The sauce is hard you can’t have too much or too little spice, you need it just right. You have to choose the ingredients judiciously. Too much backstory, too little, too many descriptions, too little, too much poetic voice, too little. It depends on the dish you are going for. And sometimes you need more than just sauce. Sometimes you need meat. But with meat and a good story, you have to cook it carefully, with a rub or a brine, cooked with caution. And then, you have to let it sit in its own juices so it can absorb them. Sometimes I can be hit the perfect ingredient for my story! But if I rush it and don’t think it through, let it meld with the other parts of the story, all the juices escape and it is tough and dry, flavorless, despite my best intentions.  Writing is like cooking. Sometimes you have to read the instructions but add your own ingredients. Sometimes it takes practice. Sometimes you have to make the dish a dozen times before you get it right. The pasta won’t always be al dente, the sauce will burn, the meat will be too dry. But once you get it right, and share it with your friends, you will have a story to be remembered. God bless, Dear Readers! – Elizabeth


On Chocolate Chip Cookies…

I am like a chocolate chip cookie. Like a chocolate chip cookie, I might get tougher with age. You might like me better that way. But right now I am fresh, soft, warm and gooey, with little nuggets of unexpected sweetness. Whatever you think of me and however you like me, I’m one good cookie.

What is your favorite cookie?

On the coupon, the writer, and her wardrobe…

Setting is important to writers. The setting is how something looks, how it can be described, what it symbolizes or contributes. Like my wardrobe. When I am reading or writing a mystery or a spy story, I find myself dressing as I would expect those protagonists to dress. Leather knee high boots, black tees, and dark sunglasses. For fantasy or fairytales, I begin wearing flowing tops, with earthy colors and patterns, and Robin Hood like boots. For super heroes (the most worn outfits in my wardrobe) a tee with the Kryptonian symbol of hope (if you don’t know, that’s what Superman’s ‘S’ really is), or a tee boldly emblazed with the Marvel logo. With each outfit change, I take on the identity of a different one of my characters. So yesterday when I went shopping at a thrift store, with a coupon, it was like I bought three more characters. I need a bigger closet.

On Why Writer’s Should Come With Warning Labels…

As a writer, I would like all my friends and anyone I have ever had a conversation with know that if I ever suddenly become very animated while you are talking, I am not insane. It’s just that whatever you just said has given me an idea for a story. At that point, I’m sorry if I suddenly get a shorter attention span than usual. Or the reverse of that, where I suddenly become very silent and pensive, and pretty much lose all comprehension of what you are saying. I would also like to apologies if I sometimes over examine the structure of a book or movie’s plot at great lengths while we are still watching it. And if we are talking and I start rambling on about my stories, even though it was just barely related to whatever topic we were talking about. Or if we are talking about something that happened to you, or anyone, and I suddenly stop and say ‘That would make a good story.’ Or I say something, stop, exclaim, and then state that whatever I said is going into a story. I am sorry if any of these writer-ish idiosyncrasies have caused you any distress. But I’m a writer. It’s just who I am.

“A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” – Thomas Mann

Today’s is a short post. Why? Because I am a writer and at times writing can be more difficult for me than it can be for other people. There’s a technical term for that – writer’s block. It is my nemesis, archenemy , foe, adversary (etc, etc… gotta love thesauruses.) So today, and recently, I have found little to write about. Perhaps it is the shortage of time or the abundance of stress in my life. Either way, I am itching to write, but it is like those dreadful itches in the middle of your back you can’t reach. I know, of course, what Jane Austen would have to say: “I am not at all in the humor for writing; I must write on till I am.” Three cheers for Jane! And I will go back to wallowing in shameful writer’s block…

On Book Addiction…

Hi, my name is Ivanna Read, *Hi, Ivanna,* And I am addicted to books. I will recite the book addict’s pledge.
I will read every book I own before I buy more books. (But that would account for 75% of the books on my bookshelves!)
I will write down the titles and authors of books that look interesting before I buy them. (I don’t think I have enough paper…)
I will not buy three bags of books that I think look good from library book sales at two dollars a bag. (But it is such a good deal!)
I will then decide if I want to keep those books or donate, pass along, or re-donate them to the library. (But I just bought them from the library book sale that only comes twice a year! Or every Saturday. Or in the basement. Depending on the library…)
I will not buy another bookshelf for the aforementioned books unless I decide to keep them. (Totally keeping! Bookshelf six, here I come!)
I will keep a strict list of books I want to buy and adhere to that list only when purchasing books. (I can do that! My list, it’ll take me awhile to get all 154, but I can do it!)

Please tell me I am not alone on this?