Tuesday, November 6, 2007


In addition to writing, I like to bake bread. Sunday afternoons often find me standing at the kitchen counter measuring water, sifting flour and pounding dough. This thrills my wife because it means that I'm not asking her nursing-related questions like, "Sweetie, if you injected an air bubble into the big vein on your left hand how long would take the resulting pulmonary embolism to kill you?" (She told me on Sunday that she wants to start a support group called WOCH - Wives Of Creative Husbands.)

Anyway. One of the things I've never quite gotten down about making bread is the yeast. You're supposed to activate it by pouring it into a bowl of lukewarm water. So, you pour a bowlful, dump in the yeast ...

... and wait.

And wait.

And wait some more.

Sometimes the yeast foams up after a minute. Sometimes it's more like five. Sometimes I get tired of waiting and just toss it in with the flour. (It usually turns out fine, which only makes the entire thing more perplexing.)

Ideas work that way for me, too. They never come immediately. Sometimes I'll sit down in front of the computer or my notepad and struggle for a few minutes and--bam! I've got the character's motivation or a good transition or a clever metaphor. Sometimes I'll plow through a hundred absolutely worthless words, get up, go take a shower and slump into bed. Then as I'm lying there, they start to bubble up and I dream my way through scene after scene after scene.

(Picture: CC 2006 by Jasmic)

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