Wednesday, April 13, 2016

"K" Killing A Story with Soggy Cereal.


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By J.C. Lynne

Hear me out. I don't eat cereal. I've been about five years on the paleo bandwagon. Oh sure, I fall off the wagon occasionally for things like pizza and cake and sometimes homemade tortillas, but I rarely eat cereal any more.

If you're of a certain generation, boxed cereal was a staple. Frosted Flakes, Sugar Smacks, now Honey Smacks, and Cocoa Pebbles. Oohhh, I miss Cocoa Pebbles. The sons sometimes guilt me into Reese's Puffs, but when I instituted the "If it has an -ose in it, I'm not buying it" they didn't grouse too much.

After all, I still make eggs and bacon. They still eat toast and bagels. Despite their lament of nothing to eat in the house, I assure you no one is starving.

Son 2 requested Frosted Mini-Wheats this week. I made myself a little bowl knowing I'd pay for it later. If you eat cereal you have a perfect milk to cereal ratio. I'm not a big fan of milk in the bottom of the bowl. I add just enough milk to insure I'm not eating dry grain.

I had just made my bowl when The Beard distracted me with some thing or another. I returned to my bowl of cereal to discover it soggy. Mini-Wheats have an ideal eating moment, like caviar. Once past the perfect saturation point they go mushy.

It occurred to me cereal is similar to writing. If you work a piece too long, over saturate it, you run the risk of turning it to rubbish.

There's a need for an editor and a need for revisions. There's a need for proof reading. There's also a need for understanding when a piece is done. Believe me, I could edit and edit and re-edit The Esau Emergence and its sequel, The Esau Convergence. I don't know a writer who truly feels a piece is DONE.

You have to let go at some point. Otherwise, you can work yourself into impasse. Become frozen at the alter of "It's not good enough yet." I don't think you ever grow beyond that worry.

Just as with cereal or pie crust or meatballs....a story can pass tender and delectable into tough to take. Surround yourself with reliable beta readers (people who don't love you) a strong editor and then remember to breathe.

If you're a writer, there are plenty more stories clamoring for your attention. Trust yourself.

And don't over sog the cereal because that's just yucky.


JEN Garrett said...

I love that analogy! It's so true that stories can become like soggy cereal if you over work them, or over milk them. :)

JEN Garrett's Lexical Creations

Deborah Nielsen said...

As a fan of Frosted Mini-Wheats, I wholeheartedly concur; you need just the right amount of milk and there's a certain window of time in which to eat them before they turn to mush. And I agree with your analogy to writing, too. Who would have thought that breakfast cereal and writing have something in common. At my house, the dogs get the leftover milk in the bowl. They think it a great delicacy.

JC Lynne said...

Whoo hoo! I was worried I'd open up heated debate between the over milkers and the under milkers....

betty said...

Hadn't thought of that before, but so true with soggy cereal and soggy writing :) I stopped eating cereal several years ago; it just wouldn't stay with me and I would be hungry within an hour; need to start off with protein in the morning :)


JC Lynne said...

That's what I'm here for! To inspire philosophical thought about cereal.

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