Monday, July 26, 2010

Baking bread and writing

There are comparisons to be made. I just started a new batch of bread dough. Making bread isn't tough--I do it once a week or so. I write every day, so let's leave that out of the comparison for a moment.

Bread making, like writing, starts with a simple bit of magic. In writing, it's an idea. In bread making, it's a bit of yeast and a little sugar. Right now, the yeast is eating the sugar in some water in a cup. While that happens, I'm at the keyboard.

In a little while, I'll go back to the kitchen and dump the yeast/water/sugar solution, dump it into a big bowl with flour, salt, and egg...and stir it all together with a wooden spoon. It's a mindless task. While I do it, the next chapter will "proof" itself in this skull o' mine...whether I want it to or not.

The dough will do it's thing (rise) while I'm up in my office writing. The process is underway. Stopping, or attempting to stop, either one would result in an addition to the real garbage can, or the virtual one on my desktop. I can write and/or edit several hundred words while the dough rises.

Here's the fun part: after an hour, I go back to the kitchen and show the dough who's boss by squeezing it until all the air is gone. Then I'll stick the dough in a bread pan. The dough has to rise, left alone, untouched--but not inactive--for another hour.

I'll add to whatever I wrote while waiting for the first rise, while I wait for the dough to rise in the pan. That means an hour at the keyboard, with a timer. Can't let the bread rise much longer than an hour or I risk collapse. This gives me a nice deadline and helps me keep the writing tight and undistracted for one hour.

After the hour, the bead is ready for the oven. It needs to bake for 30 minutes...during which time I'll be back at the keyboard, looking at the monitor to examine what I wrote.

When the timer's lunchtime! 

1 comment:

Jeffrey Miller said...

That's a very interesting analogy--making bread and writing. Like it a lot.