Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Writing is Like Stir-Fry

Quote of the Day: Every great and original writer, in proportion as he is great and original, must himself create the taste by which he is to be relished. - William Wordsworth

(Salmon stir-fry with broccoli, carrots, green onion, and a sweet sauce over steamed rice)

I have this great journal called The Art of Writing, and it's filled with quotes like the one above. I opened it right to this page. What a perfect quote for my idea that Writing is Like Stir-Fry. Last Saturday, I was craving both. Although I love writing as much as I enjoy a good stir-fry, I find myself often avoiding both, or taking short cuts for less than satisfying results.

The desire to write, to create something original, is like a hunger for good food. You crave it. You dream about it. Your mouth waters to taste the fruits of your labors. But, first you must prepare. You need to do your research, find the recipe. You need to assemble the ingredients and have all the tools in place. The best is if you have fresh produce. Well, it's January in Minnesota. They only thing growing here right now is my pile of miss-matched socks in the laundry room, not to mention the dirty clothes themselves.

The thing is, you need to let those chores move down the list of priorities and get to work. Once you start, you find that the task is really quite soothing. The chopping of the vegetables is cathartic, like the clicking away at the keyboard as idea flows into words that flow into sentences, that turn into pages. Just like the stirring, the frying, the oil splattering, the smells mingling, your words and sentences turn into a story. You see it all coming together.

And, when you're done, you serve it up in a beautiful presentation. You sit down with a glass of wine, in my case one called Minnesota Nice (really, it was Walleye White), and you taste and see what you have made. It is wonderful, beautiful, full of flavor, and you're proud of the work you've done to make it. You know that it is good. And, you want to invite others in to share it with you.

What I wonder is, why do I avoid it? Why do I sometimes settle for fast food that is less healthy and far less satisfying? It feels good to make something, so why don't I jump up to do it? Why don't I sit down eagerly every day to write? Why do I resist that creative energy? It's like exercising. You know you'll feel better for doing it, yet you choose to lie on the couch and watch a rerun of an old sitcom.

This year, I will respond to my cravings and make something good. When I start to feel that schlumping urge to do something less satisfying, I'll remember my stir-fry and work for that sweet reward.

Journaling Prompt: What's a comparison for your artistic goals and habits? How do you stay focused on your goals?

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