Monday, February 4, 2013

The Re-Learning Zone

Due to circumstances beyond our control, ten years passed since Mom and I baked Christmas cookies together. When our Women's Ministries Director announced a cookie swap, Mom decided we should make her favorite Italian confection, anginettes. It looks similar to the above picture, but has a flavored icing with sprinkles.

Even though we'd made these delicacies many times, we were a bit rusty. The scrap of paper with the recipe lacked key information, and Mom couldn't recall the details. So, like any good baker, we improvised. The first batch came out okay, but not up to our standards. We finally hit on the right combination of ingredients and technique.

Then, our first attempt at making the icing ended in disaster. It took forever to decorate all the cookies. With sugar, flour, and other ingredients covering the kitchen/dining area and us, we made Lucy and Ethel look like Food Network stars.

Writing sometimes takes a backseat to family responsibilities, illness, and other situations. When things settle down, we think we can continue where we left off. For some that may be true, but for others they enter, "THE RE-LEARNING ZONE."

Yes, folks, basic principles can evaporate into thin air with lack of use. Skills such as show, don't tell, dialogue, and deep point of view sound familiar, but executing them leaves us scratching our heads.

My resolution this year: I want to stay sharp by using both the baking and writing lessons I've learned in the past.

SPECIAL NOTE: My friend, Maria Morgan, has a new website. It will go live tomorrow (2/5/13)! She's also offering a FREE download of her devotional book, "God Speaking," to anyone who requests it. 

Writers: Have you experienced the Re-Learning Zone? Please share.

Readers/Others: What areas of life were once second nature, but now they're gathering dust in a closet or computer?


Wendy Paine Miller said...

I can remember a few years ago when my father passed away feeling afraid if I took time off I'd lose ground with my skills.

I did end up taking some time off and thankfully, the re-learning came. God is good.
~ Wendy

Jessica Nelson said...

Oh no!! That's hilarious about the cookies.
I agree about re-learning. I feel like when I've gone too long without writing, I definitely get rusty.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Wendy - I remember when you went through that time. We all need to take care of our loved ones, ourselves, and trust Him with the rest.

Hi Jess - Yeah, we made quite a mess!

Susan :)

Loree Huebner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loree Huebner said...

I'm picturing the Lucy and Ethel cookie

Re-learning can be good. I took time off of writing a few years back. I came back even stronger.

Sorry...tricky fingers today. Typos.

Melanie N. Brasher said...

After baby #3, I feel as though I'm in the re-learning zone. I desire to hone my skills and stay sharp as well, but I'm also realizing everything beautiful takes time.

Karen Lange said...

Oh lots of re-learning here! And always learning something new too.

Had to chuckle at the thought of you and your mom compared to Lucy and Ethel. Would have liked to see that mess! :)


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Loree - Yeah, we could give Lucy and Ethel a run for their money. :)
I'm glad you didn't experience the re-learning zone.

Hi Melanie - Those sweet babies make the re-learning zone worthwhile.

Hi Karen - I wish we would have had someone else to clean up our mess. I know Lucy and Ethel didn't have to deal with that chore. :)


quietspirit said...

When I got this new computer, nothing was like it used to be. I even went to the library and checked out two books on Windows 7.

Carol Garvin said...

I go through that relearning situation whenever I return to my painting. It always seems to take a while to get my favourite techniques honed again. I've never thought about it applying to my writing but I can see the correlation. Maybe I shouldn't beat myself up so much when nothing seems to go right after I've been away from it for a while. :)

Nancy said...

I agree that we have to relearn things. I had to relearn how to crochet a granny square.

Even my scanner. If I don't use it for a while, I have to get out the directions.

One good thing, relearning is usually easier than learning something in the first place.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I love your comparing skills in baking to skills in writing and how we need to stay on top of our game for both. BTW: your cookies sound very tasty.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Quiet Spirit - Thankfully, there are books out there to help us!

Hi Carol - I'm glad my post helped you see the correlation between your art and writing.

Hi Nancy - Yes, the re-learning zone is quite as difficult as starting from scratch.

Susan :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Kathi -

Those cookies were gone in a flash, so I guess we hit on the right combination.

Susan :)

Kathryn Neff Perry said...

I laughed reading about your cookie experience. I remember one time making chocolate chip cookies deciding to leave out several ingredients---like salt and baking powder---because they didn't sound good? What a disaster! I don't know how I got to be this old, but there are so many things I've forgotten how to do. One of them is all the cookies and candy I used to make at Christmas. It is a total "re-learning" experience for me. Great blog!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Katt -

Great to see you!

I guess there's a lot of truth to the saying, "if you don't use it, you lose it."

Susan :)

DenaNetherton said...

Susan, I'm constantly having to relearn things i thought I knew. Piano technique, weeding out bad vocal habits, editing sentences in my manuscripts that tell, don't show, etc. Your cookies remind me about my waffle-baking. Sometimes I get careless and the waffle product suffers for it!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Dena -

Yes, the re-learning zone applies to many skills. I don't use my sign language as much as I did in the past. A lot of the vocabulary has slipped away.

Susan :)