Why My Writing is Like My Holiday Baking

Old Fashioned Spiced Apple Chews

Old Fashioned Spiced Apple Chews, 2013

By the time you read this I will be elbow deep in flour, running pell-mell from table to counter to stove, and bemoaning the fact that my slippers are making that schwick schwick schwick noise of plastic soles sticking to the floor of my kitchen because I haven’t had time to scrub the tiles.

Sadly, this is not an uncommon holiday occurrence.

I always start the holiday baking season with the best of intentions but invariably I end up getting caught up in the stress of the day job. The baking gets set aside for laundry, for dishes, for sleeping. Needful things happen, yes, but the baking gets put off always until the very last minute and then I end up rushing right through it.

What’s really horrible about all this is that when it comes to cooking full meals for family and friends or multi-course medieval feasts, something I think I personally excel at, nothing even remotely resembling this kind of rushing around happens. I’m usually prepared months in advance and I have multiple backup plans in case anything goes awry.

I should probably point out that I cook all the time. ALL the time. I’m always coming up with something new and tasty. Dishes gets created purely for the joy of it, sometimes simply because something falls out of the fridge when I’d intended to go and make something completely different. (Remind me to tell you the story of how I once went into the kitchen to make chocolate chip cookies and came out with a crown roast.) Sure I make cooking mistakes and stuff gets relegated to the compost heap on occasion. Some of the things I cook though? So yummy. Friends and coworkers comment constantly that it’s a wonder MrMr doesn’t weigh a ton for all the cooking that I do that he happily eats (he’s actually quite svelte, by the way).

Now let’s swing this around to my writing. (I know you were wondering. Don’t deny it.)

I go through these stages where I write fiction like mad (as evidenced by last year’s NaNoWriMo participation in particular) and then things begin to taper off until the next big rush. I don’t think it’s any big secret that I wait until the last minute most of the time to find a topic to blog about. While I know that’s not an uncommon way of going about blogging or writing fiction, I’m just completely struck by how it’s so very much unlike my writing process for my day job. I’ve mentioned before that I write for a living in my day job. And much like my cooking abilities, I think I’m actually dab hand at it. The simple fact that my bosses seem to like my work well enough to send me gifts addressed to “Jennelle Is Awesome Holland” should be evidence at least that I don’t completely suck at my chosen profession, right?

Yet when it comes to writing the fiction, I hesitate. I delay. I find excuses. And then there’s this mad rush near whatever self-imposed deadline I’ve set where I actually sweat out the words and get something written that, for the most part, works well and doesn’t suck.

So why is it that this fiction writing, like the holiday baking extravaganza that happens, something that causes such panic and angst?

Ego. Ego, plain and simple.

The problem here, both for the baking and the fiction writing is that I need to figure out these transferable skills I should have. For my baking, it’s clearly my ability to plan ahead. I just need to do it for baking too. Realistically I don’t suck at baking. I have failures just the same as my cooking. MrMr loves the treats I make him and not just in that “awh honey you shouldn’t have” sort of way. I can work with that and make it happen. I know I can.

TIME

I think the same thing is true for my writing. I have the ability to affect people in profound ways with my writing. I’ve felt it. I’ve seen it happen. I know I can do this. I have the mad organizational skills to take a software documentation project from idea to birth. I have the skills to know when to abandon plan A and move on to plan B or C or whatever letter comes next at the stage I’m working on.

It just needs doing and that’s going to take time, so this is going to be my Yule gift to myself: time. Time to write.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, all. May you all gift yourself with time.

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