Since I made a resolution not to write about writing any longer, as in how to write or get published or how to self-publish, I began digging back into old blog posts and discovered I already have quite a large number of these blogs already written, and they’re just languishing there in the vaults, dormant and unread. So I decided to begin resurrecting them and will repost (updating if need be) for the benefit of any new followers who may have missed them the first time around.
I’m trying something new here today at The View… Not baking bagels – I can`t count the number of bagels I may have churned out of this kitchen since I first tried my hand at making them. Here’s what half an order looked like when I supplied the Firefly Hotel on Mustique with 22 dozen. They were catering a Tommy Hilfiger photo shoot and asked me to pre-slice the entire order, for their ease in serving. (I think I remember cutting my hand in the process, and that I bled on a few before the rest were bagged…)
At that time, I’d tried setting up a baking business out of my house, and celebrities on Mustique, such as the late Felix Dennis, proclaimed mine to be the best bagels they’d ever tasted, or so I was told. I was baking healthy breads, using ingredients my neighbour packed down for me from Canada – nuts, seeds, special flours – that made my baked goods more expensive than what was available locally, but also unique. Unfortunately for me, my “friends” on Bequia were too cheap to pay the higher price for artisanal breads (and one even asked if I could deliver – on a 7-sq. mile island, fer cryin’ out loud!), so that shut down any pretensions I had for becoming a professional baker.
Now I bake for the sheer pleasure of it; I find all cooking to be extremely meditative. I love the entire process – poring over cookbooks, looking for new recipes to try, developing my own, and then the actual cooking/baking part, not to mention devouring the finished dish. It struck me many years ago, when I was taking the Humber Creative Writing Course online while living here in Bequia, trying to bake at the same time I was writing for Paul Quarrington, my mentor, that baking and writing are a lot alike – A LOT! I came up with a complete correlation of the two activities, and was going to share my idea on the student chat forum, but never got around to writing the damn thing down! I was reminded of it when I read Stephen King’s On Writing recently where he makes a comparison between the two activities. Double damn! My idea had not been unique after all.
But here’s another aspect where baking and writing are similar that I hadn’t thought of until writing this post today – few people are willing to pay what your “craft” is actually worth, because they refuse to value the work as highly as we creators value what we’ve created – both bakers and writers.
A long circuitous route around to my initial point for writing this blog, which is to tell you that this morning, when I decided it was time to start making bagels, I had the laptop set up on the verandah, and the file for my novel open so that I could, once again, commence eradicating adverbs from the MS. I walked into the kitchen, came up with a better way to rephrase something, went back out to the verandah to correct that, then thought – Bingo! Why not bring the computer into the kitchen, wipe the flour from my hands whenever I have another idea, or a few minutes during yeast fermenting or dough rising, when I can turn my attention back to my writing.
And that’s when I came up with the idea for writing this blog instead. So, editing avoidance extraordinaire! Only one change made so far on the novel, because I’ve been too busy writing for my blog. Plus, I keep looking up at this …
Dennis doesn’t want to light the pizza oven for me today – too much trouble, he says. (In fact, I haven’t been able to use the oven the entire time I’ve been here this time. He’s the pizza-oven builder, so he also lays claim to deciding when it can and can’t be used, it seems …) So these bagels won’t be wood-fired today. Instead I’m baking bagels, and a Pecan Pie, in the stove-oven … But, in the meantime, and while the bagel dough is spending time in the fridge before it needs to be formed, boiled and baked, maybe I’ll be able to get back to that novel editing.