August 25, 2016 in Dag

The literary chef is in slow cook mode

I don’t mind cooking. I used to do it quite a lot. Wouldn’t say I’m much of an expert, but I used to keep myself pretty well fed. I certainly wasn’t submitting too many complaints to the chef – not that I would have listened to myself if I did.

These days, I don’t do anywhere near as much cooking as I used to. Mainly that’s because I’m now married to someone who is a way better chef than I could ever hope to be. I still make the occasional foray into the kitchen, but those trips are few and far between these days.

When I did cook, my specialty was quick meals. I mainly used to do a lot of stir-fries and pastas. Things I could whip up without spending too much time standing over a chopping board or a stove. A quick meal is a good meal – that was my mantra. I’ve always been much more focussed on the eating side of food, rather than the cooking side of food.

I may not spend a lot of time in the kitchen these days, but I like to think of myself as a bit of a chef – at least in the metaphorical sense (and I do love a good metaphor). I consider myself to be a literary chef, cooking up stories rather than cooking up meals. And like any good chef, I have my favourite techniques and recipes.

As a literary chef, my primary methods are very different from my style in the kitchen. While my cooking technique mainly revolved around haste and efficiency, my writing technique is the exact opposite. I always take my time with my writing. I pay close attention to every sentence that I write, even every word. I spend hours agonising over comma positions. I draft and redraft and then redraft again. Time is not an issue. The only thing that matters is making it as close to perfect as I can.

It’s not even the writing that takes the longest. It’s the development of the ideas, before I’ve even written a word, that probably takes the longest. I like to develop my ideas slowly, making sure they’re thoroughly cooked before the words start to hit the page. And that’s what I’m doing at the moment. I have a few ideas I’m preparing. So I’ve turned the heat down to low and I’m letting them simmer away, hoping the flavours of the characters and the narrative will start to come out.

It’s a slow process. It’s the literary opposite of fast food, and not the way I’d ever prepare a meal. But slow cooking is the only way I know to write a story.

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