Kneading a Novel


Alright, this is Kazul swapping spots with Casey! Prepare for me dorking out about my two careers:

for five years I was a professional chef. Like, legit fancy restaurant
chef. And a bunch of that time I spent getting up at absurd hours as a
pastry chef, while also spending crazy hours writing. There’s a weird
amount a parallels between the two, but for this post I’ll ramble about
the most comparable (to me):

Writing a novel is a lot like making bread.

matter the fancy equipment you have, the sort of workspace you have,
your previous success and failures, making bread takes a long butt time.
And you know what really sucks is I can’t even count on one hand how
many times I’ve made a GIANT, 30+ pound batch of dough, and realized
hours later that I’d forgotten the sugar or the salt or – the most
embarrassing – the yeast.

And you know what? Everyone did it.
Everyone had to trash things sometimes, everyone had to learn to master
types of dough. Things like pretzel and brioche dough take time, yeah,
but even basic straight doughs need to be learned!. Having come from
working as a chef and not a baker ever, at all, taking the time and
delicate processes into account was hard. Carefully measuring every
ingredient on the scale, mixing for the right amount of time or until
the right consistency, letting it rest for at least a half-hour,
pressing it down, letting it rest again, portioning it up to exact
weights, letting it rest again, shaping it, baking it, letting it cool,
then wrapping it up to sell, or freeze for later (which would have more
steps to thaw).

Sounds exhausting and frustrating, right?
Especially when you’ve gotten to the point of baking it, then realizing
you messed up and tossing it, or going back to an earlier step, or
coming up less-than.

And it taught me an awful lot of patience for
novel-writing, let me tell you. Because as tedious as bread making was,
I loved it, and it’s nothing compared to the time that goes into
writing – which I love more. That first awful draft, editing, revising,
rewriting, getting critiqued, revising and rewriting again and again,
writing a query, writing a synopsis, sending to agents or editors,
getting rejected over and over and over again.

The process is
exhausting for both. And sometimes it’s totally fruitless. Sometimes
your book never goes anywhere, sometimes you don’t get a bite of that
bread and the loaves never sell. The joy is in the process; in the
feeling the raw dough coming to the perfect consistency in your hands,
and perfecting the recipe; knowing this last draft of your novel is the
best yet, and watching your critique partners lose it over the new

So enjoy where you are, and what you do. Life’s too short not to enjoy a good loaf of sourdough.

Bacon, out.

My KBKL post of the month! Enjoy a lame bread comparison.

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