Monday, November 8, 2010

Half Baked

"Don't open the oven yet! The cake isn't ready."

My grandma shared her expertise as a baker. She drilled me in the basics of using quality ingredients, measuring, rolling out cookie dough, and baking each confection for the right amount of time.

She never trusted her oven fully, but always tested cakes with a toothpick. If it came out wet and sticky, she closed the oven door and set the timer for another five or ten minutes. When the toothpick came out clean, she pronounced the cake done.

This reminded me of my writing ideas. Too often, I take them out of my "brain oven" before they're ready.

Several years ago, I wanted to put an experience down on paper. I tried to write a poem, but it didn't work. The writing "toothpick" came out, and I could see it was half baked. I then attempted an article. Once again, the results were unsatisfactory.

One day, Beloved had an epiphany as we talked about my idea. "That's it! That's your book!" I thought he'd gone crazy, but then caught the vision. I toiled over my first draft. Unlike the other projects, this came together. I'd discovered the right vehicle for my idea.

When you've got some tantalizing idea, but can't seem to figure out what to do with it, set the "timer" for another ten minutes. You may be surprised the direction you end up taking.

How do you know when your idea is half baked or just right?

30 comments:

Rosslyn Elliott said...

A really interesting question! For me, I think it's about the characters, how vivid they are, and what's at stake for them. There has to be enough meat to sustain a 100K novel, which takes a lot! :-)

Sandra Heska King said...

I love this! What a fresh way to present this.

Will I use a mini muffin tin or a Bundt pan for this new idea?

I'm thinking I may have fed my readers a lot of dough. ;)

Cindy R. Wilson said...

I like the analogy! I make sure I have GMC for each character but most of all, I make sure I'm able to plot out the entire book chapter by chapter, scene by scene. If I can do that, I know my idea is enough for a whole story.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rosslyn -

I like your test. Characters are critical to the book, as well as tension.

Thanks for stopping by!

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sandy -

Thanks! Your mini muffin tin or Bundt pan made me chuckle. I think I like your analogy better than mine. :)

If your blog is any indication, I'd say your readers enjoyed a delicious dessert.

Blessings,
Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Cindy -

Plotting is one way to see if the idea can mature into a book. I've yet to find a solid combination method (SOTP and planning) that works for me.

Blessings,
Susan :)

quietspirit said...

Susan:
Good analogy. It takes time to get the story/essay/script right.
With my writing, it depends on what God wants to add to it.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Quiet Spirit -

I've written things that didn't sit quite right. After prayer, I'd tweak a little here and a little there, and it would work out.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Karen Lange said...

Love this comparison! I let things simmer before I know they are done. Sometimes they get tossed, other times they just need some time and tweaking. I pray about my writing and trust the Lord to help me get it right. :)
Blessings,
Karen

Rhonda Schrock said...

This isn't scientific at all, but - I just feel it. Just know it, somehow. On occasion, a column idea will come and I know it's just not the right time, but "sometime." It will sit in the background, just simmering, or percolating (as I call it) until one week I know - it's go time.

THE OLD GEEZER said...

I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

God Bless You :-)

~Ron

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Karen -

I have so many backburners at this point, I need another stove. :)

Lots of prayer helps me keep an eye on the projects.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rhonda -

It may not be scientific, but I know exactly what you're talking about. I recently wrote an article for Vista and submitted it. I had that same, "now is the time," experience.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Ron -

Thanks for becoming a Follower. I post here Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I hope you'll visit again.

I'll pop over to your blog soon.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jill Kemerer said...

So true, Susan! I've experienced this too. Love it!

Jeanette Levellie said...

How funny you should post on this, when I have a half bd cake on my blog today! Twins!!!

I know my idea is half baked when it doesn't "settle" in my spirit, or when no one wants to buy it.

Nancy said...

It's wonnderful the way you were led at just the right moment to do your idea. If I don't act on one of mine right away, it's gone. I need to at least write it down briefly. I would love to get a eureka moment for one of my old ideas.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jill -

Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad I'm not the only one, who has to watch out for half-baked ideas. :)

Blessings,
Susan

kristen said...

The "book of my heart" is about my family's escape from the Armenian Genocide in 1920's Turkey. I love the POV character I've developed, but the story has never really gelled for me. In talking to editors, it seems a very hard sell, so I'm thinking I'll need a few books out there before it will have a chance. I believe God is waiting for the perfect timing for it, and I have to be patient to wait for the market and the story to catch up with my heart.
Thanks for the post.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jen -

LOL! I'm always astounded when bloggers come up with the same themes. My offerings are written a month in advance.

Ah yes, the "no one will buy it now test." I've encountered that one multiple times. Put it back in the oven and let it cook for awhile.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Nancy -

I always right the ideas down. Otherwise, like yours, they escape.

The secret to getting the Eureka! moment for an old idea is prayer and an eye for opportunity. Recently, I received a call for submissions from an editor. The Lord brought a particular idea to my mind and helped me see how it could fit the editor's themes.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kristen -

Oh, that sounds like a fascinating book. I remember reading a book years ago by a man, whose family escaped genocide in Armenia. I'm not sure if it's still in print. If you're interested, shoot me an email, and I'll see what I can find out.

Another author wrote a book years ago on the subject of abuse. After 40 rejections and much time, she finally found a publisher. The market wasn't ready for her story when she first submitted.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Alene said...

Love this post. I definitely have some dishes I need to put back in my brain oven and set the timer. Blessings friend.

Faith Imagined said...

I love this Susan! I seem to get an idea and go off running before I even know the fullness of it. I'll definitely think of this post when I have another grand idea. It may need a little more time to bake.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Alene -

LOL! Don't we all?

Nice to see you.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Alisa -

Often when I let the idea bake for awhile, whatever I'm writing takes a surprising turn.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Nancy said...

How great that you had such a promising call fromm an editor. And praise God, He helped you to make the most of it. I love it when things like that happen.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Nancy -

Beloved refers to my late husband. He was always a huge support and prayed for my writing endeavors.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Jean Fischer said...

You have the best analogies, Susan! Love this post.

Blessings.
Jean

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jean -

Thanks! I appreciate your comments.

Blessings,
Susan :)

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