Waiter, there's prose in my soup…

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on October 3, 2008 0 Comments

I was writing while making soup the other day. Perhaps those reading this will wonder at the method one would use to do such a thing but I cannot answer; it merely happened and was not premeditated. As much as it is good for one to concentrate on the task at hand I found my mind deluged with the inspired frenzy which accompanies a slough of good ideas. My characters were in the middle of a rather interesting sequence of events, with both menacing and foreboding circumstances arising on three of four sides.

Looking up at the clock I saw that lunchtime had rolled around; I also saw that if I did not get the soup going it would not be ready for the evening meal. Being one of the more celebrated meals of the day I knew this must be remedied. I absently took my pen and notebook with me, tucked under one arm as I murmured to myself a line of character dialog. I always try out the speaking lines in my stories first, just to see if they are palatable. The Editor often sees me stop writing, mumble a sentence in low tones, gesturing with one hand, make a face, shake my head and cross out something on the page, re-writing and the whole thing starts over again. I know this as he informed me of this sequence one night, with no small amount of humor I might add.

I propped up the notebook against a can of coffee beans and read back the last section as I chopped onions. A thought occurred to me as the sulfurous vapors of that tangy vegetable rose into my face; leaning forward I sniffed my notebook page. Oh well, perhaps it will give my story more flavor. Chuckling to myself I fried the onions in my stockpot and began paring two turnips. I cubed those while trying out lines of dialog.

“Mom?” My ten (almost eleven) year old daughter was standing in the kitchen entry, looking at me with a baffled expression. I raised my eyebrows at her and smiled. “Who are you talking to?” I explained to her that I was merely trying out the sentences that my character were using in the book. “Ohhh…” She did look convinced. Smiling sagely at such youth, I pointed to the lines of hand-writing in the notebook; squinting, my daughter looked at them for several seconds and then informed me that my handwriting 'appeared illegible'. It's my fault you know; I let her read my copy of Pride & Prejudice.

The turnips fried with a soothing aroma; I wrote a few more lines, crossing out several, stirring the pot from time to time. When the caramelized onions began to show their sugars I put the chicken in to sear; I almost let it sear to long, as several characters were locked in a verbal battle of some duration. I almost put in rosemary instead of fresh thyme when another character was battling inner despair (they won) but I caught it just in time. I put in half a butternut squash, cubed and several bay leaves; grinding in black pepper was more difficult while reading written paragraphs and some of the tiny, black specks sprinkled onto the page. More spice to the story, says I.

By the time the rolls were in the oven, the stock poured in the pot, the brown rice added and the lid put on the chapter had come to a satisfactory conclusion. Lifting the notebook up I shook it out over the sink, choosing to ignore the cloud of flour and pepper that billowed out. Looking at the clock, I saw it was time to journey over to the park with my children; the park is invaluable where we live, for the children must run and play.

Washing my hands I looked at the notebook as it sat resolutely on the counter, then over at the soup; smiling I wiped my hands on a dish-towel feeling as if the two were now connected by prose. The work of my hand and that of my mind in tandem.

Reading back over the last page or so constructed in between cooking and stirring, I was duly impressed that it was legible, for one; it also appeared 'homey' in nature, more subdued. For the moment in the chapter and the post-climax of actions, the mood was perfect.

I do not advocate cooking while writing, as it was merely by chance that no odd things were added unknowingly to the pot while my brain was busy elsewhere. This time, however it worked; the soup wasn't bad either. Perhaps all recipes should be written down interspersed with writing, poems and narrative bits of brevity.

Meredith Greene

About the Author ()

Writer of online books, part of a writing team:http://www.belatorbooks.com

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