By: Marilyn L. Davis
Writing: We’ve Got Boundless Ingredients
“…I began to see the world more like a cook than a writer. There were boundless ingredients out there, combinations waiting to be discovered and simmered and served. There were truths and stories and characters and quirks that could clash badly, some that could marry and birth sequels. I began to feel a lot more comfortable. It wasn’t all on me to create. It was on me to find. To catch. To arrange.” ― N.D. Wilson, Death by Living: Life Is Meant to Be Spent
There are 1,022,000 words in the English language, and more added daily. Those are a writer’s ingredients. To communicate, we use a noun, a verb, and a predicate. It is not surprising that some sentences seem basic, like seasoning with just salt and pepper. Some writers take this approach; simple words served up well.
Then others throw in the kitchen sink, using all of the obscure words – albeit correctly, but so many can give us heartburn. For me, that is Thomas Pynchon.
It’s telling that there is a site dedicated to How to Read a Pynchon Book. For any Pynchon fans, I’ve read more than 200 pages of Gravity’s Rainbow, Mason & Dixon, and Slow Learner multiple times…I will not try again.
Writing: We Have to Choose our Ingredients Carefully
While we rely on language to convey our thoughts, feelings, and experiences, the underlying foundation for our writing is grammar. When we understand how our language works, how to construct a sentence, a paragraph, or a novel, we have control. We can use outlining or other forms of structuring. Then we can use our creativity and imagination to craft satisfying pieces much like a chef decides which, if any spices to add to their dishes.
Is Your Writing Seasoned with just Salt and Pepper?
Just as some foods only need salt and pepper to enhance their flavor, simple writing can and does stand alone. Click To Tweet
As Charles Peguy writes in Basic Verities, Prose, and Poetry, “A word is not the same with one writer as it is with another. One tears it from his guts. The other pulls it out of his overcoat pocket.”
Unlike grammar, which applies to us all, voice is unique; it’s the writer’s personality. It is distinct from other voices; it is individual. Our voice shows up in the different choices of words, personal reflections on the topics, and how the writer perceives their subject and their reader.
It’s a tone, a style, a way of stringing words together that uses language in distinctive ways.
Does Your Writing Need Exotic Spices?
Other writing needs more descriptions, like certain foods need garlic, parsley, or unexpected, exotic spices. But it’s more than just adding filler; it’s enhancing the words for a better reading experience.
Each type of writing is suitable on its own, and it may just be that some days you are into simple writing, and on others, your topic requires more complex language.
Words: Unexpected Combinations?
My daughter, Dannella Burnett, graduated from the culinary arts school, Johnson and Wales. She was on the first student team competing at the London Hotelympia. Her combination of chocolate pasta, berries, and sweet cheese filling for a dessert lasagna were novel in 1987, uncommonly combining common ingredients.
It is the same with writing. How we combine our words sets us apart. For nonfiction, we have to let the readers know that we are passionate about our topic, provide them with relevant information, and add elements that make the article creatively ours. We have to be honest, authentic and believe in our topics.
Believe in Your Creations
Jeff Goins encourages us to offer up our writings. “Creativity eventually wins. Your ideas don’t go away, do they? When you give in to fear, you only grow more frustrated. Your ideas continue to bubble in your mind and heart, wanting to be let out.”
Each writer has to overcome their fear, much like a chef offering their latest creation:
- Is it too bland?
- Did I season it well?
- Is it over-flavored?
- Are there high notes and low notes to the piece?
- Would I serve this again?
Whether it's home-cookin' or haute cuisine, it's yours, so don't let it get cold, write it, publish it, and savor it. Click To Tweet
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Please send us a submission of your problem-solving for the writer and blogger, poetry, or prose. We’ll promote you, share you, and provide links to your site in your bio as well as exposing you to our audience. Here are the guidelines.
Marilyn L. Davis is the Editor-in-Chief at Two Drops of Ink and From Addict 2 Advocate. She is also the author of Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate and Memories into Memoir: The Mindsets and Mechanics Workbook, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie Books, and Books A Million.