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Deborah C Dooley Headshot

Eating Writing

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I can't eat my novel.

But sometimes I feel as if I could, so much do I love it.

I can taste the groups of words, lovingly constructed into sentences and paragraphs, and reading them aloud brings a satisfaction akin to savouring an especially tasty mouthful of food. A juicy pear, a mouth wateringly sharp cheddar, or a meltingly perfect morsel of dark chocolate.

Reworking characters done sensitively and gently, brings to mind a chef plating up a beautifully presented platter of hors d'oeuvres or laying out wafer thin slices of finely sliced cold meats. Devising a plot twist demands the kind of unerring concentration needed for a good mayonnaise, as olive oil is added drop by drop. Get it right and the flow of the story will come together smoothly, just as egg yolks and oil combine to make the perfect mix.

I anticipate each return to my half completed novel with the same glorious anticipation provoked by the prospect of a banquet. I salivate at the thought of reconnecting with thousands of words, remembering with delight that they were produced with the same care and love needed to craft the lightest soufflé or a damply dark batch of brownies. I smile at the task ahead of me. As I do each time I tie on my apron, ready to create another fragrant casserole, a bowl of creamy mash, a fat meringue whose crisply tanned shell conceals a sweetly gooey centre.

Like a good cook, a good writer is always learning and trying out new things. Being open to new ideas, new thoughts, new recipes is what keeps both writer and cook fresh and their work innovative. The resulting words and food can only be pleasing and tasty.

My novel is always there waiting, beckoning me back in the same way that a good meal, interrupted by a knock on the door, begs you to return. Both leave a lingering aftertaste, ensuring that its intensity and depth is never far from your thoughts. And if I ate my novel, munching up all those lines and words - and swallowed the whole thing, it seems to me that all my hours and days and weeks and months and years of work would be safely tucked away inside me. Ready to regurgitate when the time comes to publish.

A strange analogy perhaps, but then I've always felt that writing and cooking have a lot in common.

Likewise words and food.

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