Thanksgiving Writing Thanks

Well, the cranberry-orange bread is baked for Thanksgiving dinner, along with a fresh batch of brownies.

My son has been asking for brownies because I made them last weekend for his sister’s school (PTO fundraiser) and he can’t eat box mixes because of his food allergies. I’ve tried several recipes but they always have a tendency to come out under-cooked. So, after consulting mom (as in MY mom), I altered a few steps in my process, and they came out pretty good. Of course, this was after trying a new recipe and a specialty pan that I’d bought from my son’s school fundraiser that resulted in a horrible brownie disaster last night. Regardless, all is well tonight, and my son is the happiest kid on the planet (no exaggeration).

As I write this post, I realize that baking is a little like writing. You start with a list of ingredients and instructions. If you’re lucky, the directions are detailed and tell you if there is a specific order to assembling the ingredients. Growing up Italian, I didn’t get detailed recipes. I got a list of ingredients. Maybe-if I was lucky-something that told me what temperature to cook it on or for how long. When I first moved into my own apartment I had wanted to make pasta sauce (gravy as we call it). I practically laughed when my mom just gave me random ingredients. Somehow I figured it out, and over the years have learned how to improvise a recipe. But I’ll never forget my early struggle to figure out the right combination of ingredients. Who knew that I shouldn’t add salt when making chocolate chip cookies, but I needed to add it when making homemade bread? Some lessons are learned the hard way.

With writing, the individual components of the craft are like ingredients: point of view, dialogue, show vs tell, voice, hook, exposition, etc. These ingredients, and many more, make up our story. As writers, we’re not told when to show vs tell, or when to write a scene in the heroine or hero’s POV. But we know it’s needed. WE need to figure out the combination of ingredients that will either make our story a three-tier cake or a gooey mess of under-cooked brownies. Sometimes our mixture of ingredients works, and other times it doesn’t. We must continuously adjust our “recipe” until we find the magic.

I’ll spend Thanksgiving Day with my family. It’s a bit quieter than in year’s past, but we’ll have lots of food and fun. I’m grateful for my family and that we’re all well and reasonably healthy.

I wish you and your family a healthy and safe Thanksgiving!

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