Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Secret Ingredient

At times our words flow like glossy honey. Other times they are dry as stale cupcakes. When going well, writing is similar to baking, everything turning up cherry turnovers and lemon crepes that melt on the tongue. We are in the zone, cooking up sentences that zing. Look what we’ve created! Do taste. Eat. Here, you want more? We’ve got plenty. Boy, do we. We’re turning out stuff left and right. Take them off our hands, please!

Wouldn’t it be nice if fresh words were always on our fingertips? Like flour and raw sugar. To be honest I’m a little salty right now. Ingredients aren’t quite as exotic as I’d like. I’ve thrown in comma’s, period’s, apostrophe’s, colon’s, semi-colon’s, etc… but the main constituent, the prose, has gone missing from my pantry. Why, those dang kids have gone and moved my prose. Isn’t it just like a mother to blame the children? Well, maybe my husband hid those spicy words somewhere. Then I turn to the dog and he looks so innocent lying on blankie, fluttering his eyelids and waiting for nothing but love. No not the dog. He didn’t do anything.

Has your prose ever gone missing? Ever forgotten where you put the secret ingredient?

What to do. When I’m going through a rough patch in my writing I often think of how long it took me to learn the trick of making melt in your mouth biscuits. Even when they looked like flying disks, which was usually, I still served them for breakfast and called them scones. Everyone ate them, snarky comments included. I’d smile and say, “Yeah, I meant them to look that way.” Buckling down, I’d make them again and again, until finally I had the fluffy fanciful biscuit I remembered my Mom making. This did take awhile. Okay, a year. But even now, with all that practice, they are sometimes yet flat. I chalk it up to humidity and know if I persevere those biscuits will rise once again.

And so it goes with words. They are never really missing, but waiting to be coaxed, kneaded, risen, sugared.

What do you do when your words won’t rise?