Last week, I overheard some people talking about cupcakes.
My brain switched quickly to lust mode. Must have cupcakes, it demanded all afternoon.
I ignored it. Though I love cooking, I’ve never been much of a baker and am indifferent to most baked goods. The craving would pass.
But my lust was persistent.
Must have cupcakes, my brain snarled all evening.
I went to bed, assuming I’d forget the cupcakes overnight and move on to craving frozen peas or tater tots.
But there it was, screaming in my brain first thing the next morning – MUST HAVE @#$% CUPCAKES!
I had to bring something to a dinner party anyway, so cupcakes were as good as anything. I got out my mixing bowls and cookbooks. I sifted and measured, sampled and adjusted, whisked and tasted.
I produced a dozen chocolate cupcakes – half with a dark chocolate Grand Marnier frosting, and the other half with a light chocolate raspberry concoction I made up as I went along.
And by the time I got to the dinner party, I wasn’t the least bit interested in those cupcakes.
It happens that way a lot, which is probably why I don’t bake much. I taste and sample and tweak and adjust as I go, and by the time I’m done, I’m so sick of what I’m baking that I’d just as soon feed it to the dog.
It’s something I’ve found myself doing with writing, too.
I’m not sure if any of you noticed, but something funny happened early in the summer. I was on track to finish LET IT BREATHE within my normal 3 or 3.5 month time frame. I had about a chapter left to write and was already plotting the wine I’d drink when I typed “the end.”
But guess what? I haven’t. I haven’t typed “the end,” and I haven’t opened the wine.
The closer I got to the end of that story, the more I realized there was some “stuff” I wasn’t sure about. Some emotional baggage that wormed its way in and threatened to choke the comedy. I’m an edit-as-I-go sort of writer, but instead of achieving the desired polish by tweaking and retweaking my scenes, I was starting to wonder if the dog would eat manuscript pages.
Lucky for me, LET IT BREATHE is the third book in my contract and isn’t due on my editor’s desk until February. The way the timing worked, MAKING WAVES and BELIEVE IT OR NOT (which are already written) were due at the end of September, so I gave myself permission to switch gears.
I went back and polished the first two to a high sheen. It was a chance not only to perfect things for my editor, but to remind myself of the tone I set with the first two.
Then it was time for the online revision class I’d signed up to take from New York Times bestselling author Lani Diane Rich. I used those six weeks to absorb all the wisdom and strategy I could to prepare myself to return to LET IT BREATHE.
On one hand, I’ve been kicking myself for the hiatus. How silly to stop with so little left to write.
On the other hand, I know myself as a writer. I needed to take a few steps back to gain perspective and curtail the distaste I could feel building in the back of my throat.
Have you given yourself permission to step away from a story when something isn’t right? Do you ever get sick of your own baking or writing? Please share.
And please give me an easier food to lust for next time. Carrot sticks, maybe?