‘Tis the season to dream and dwell on the joys of life!
Me, well, I love to write. LOVE IT! It brings me personal peace and rejuvenates my soul when I commit ideas to screen or paper. It’s an obsession, an addiction.
Some people don’t understand the joy it brings. They see writing, even creative endeavors, as formulae, equations to plug in relevant data. This is a damn shame. Unfortunately, my day job sometimes forces me to cater to those exacting minds, and I find myself drained beyond my wits by the time I come home to sit in front of my preferred writing apparatus.
The whole business side of things leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Not that I don’t like giving the customer/stakeholder what they want. Truly, some days it’s nice to just get a job done—like cooking dinner. Hey, it may not be pretty and it might be covered in cheese, but at least the kids are eating something. Right?
What drains me is the lack of trust in my industry. It’s almost childish in its simplicity. I can visually compare it to when my boys whine about the nightly meal (because for some reason we no longer like yellow cheese, ugh)!
It surprises me that in the professional arena I get a lot of nitpicking from those who have no experience or passion in writing at all. “You didn’t see my vision. Do it again.” I didn’t see your vision because you didn’t have one. The project specs were all over the place, and, every time I asked for details or input, you brushed me off, even though I’m a significant factor in the completion of your desired piece. This scenario is becoming the norm of late.
Sometimes I just want to scream, “Eat what I made you!”
This makes me think of cake. Yes, stress makes me think of cake. Don’t judge me. We all have our soothing mechanisms. I actually enjoy baking them more than eating them though.
Cakes are like writing. They start out sort of formulaic in that they have recipes, but there’s so much room for creativity using that basic structure. Decent bakers (cough, metaphor for newbie writers) will be like those who use a box mix and a basic pan to create a perfectly edible, if not the prettiest, confection fit for consumption. Experienced bakers (cough, practiced writers) can create masterpieces.
Most writers are somewhere in the middle, like myself. In both baking and wordsmithing, I’m a pretty fair hand, though I have my moments when the planets misalign and experimentation goes wrong. Those moments are learning moments and they only further my zeal for trying something new. Having a passion for writing outside of my job means that those learning moments tend to happen in the best of ways. I can experiment and practice without causing drama in the workplace.
Individuals who have no experience with either writing or baking, however, and no desire to learn and improve, honestly should remember to stay out of the kitchen. I don’t mean this in a hateful or derogatory way. This isn’t elitism. Think about it. You don’t go to the mechanic’s shop to get a cake. Why do you think just anyone can write professional copy for you? Trust the experts to give it their best try. Just give us a chance to show you our honed and coveted skills.
Don’t limit us to a small portion of butter, baking powder, salt, eggs, flour, sugar, vanilla flavoring, and milk and then have a toddler melt down when the final product is a plain sheet cake that tastes like vanilla. Apparently, you wanted a three-tiered wedding cake with fondant and strawberry filling. I may have offered to make you the three-tiered marvel before ever starting to bake. We might have poured over design prospects for hours, but because you were worried about cost and your vague concepts (and there’s always a deadline to consider), I had no choice but to give you what you asked for. This is no way to encourage creativity and it certainly doesn’t help further stakeholder-writer relations.
Being the practiced adult/writer that I am, I won’t throw a tantrum about it, of course. I can eat humble pie as well as mediocre cake. But if you constantly ask me to bake you a plain cake and then proceed to disparage it when it’s placed in front of you, I will most likely feel a little resentful. If you were really my kid, I’d just stop making them for you altogether.
However, I might also take all that pent-up disgust and decide to do what comes naturally to me. I’ll bake my heart out because it’s not just about the project; it’s about fulfilling a calling. Chances are, I’m going to wow you, unless you’re just the pickiest person who ever existed. I see the writing process in three dimensions. Maybe, just maybe, I will be able to give you something you never expected.
Ever watch those baking shows like Cake Boss? Those experts are trusted to do amazing jobs on simple concepts with a little free-range creativity. They make some pretty boss (snicker…doodle) confections! Seriously! They’re inspiring. Let me do that for you. Let me write the piece that jumps into my mind. I’m willing to tweak the design in the planning stages. I’m willing to embellish where you want. I just want to have the opportunity to create for you. I promise. I’ll work at it until the words and the message are the most delicious thing you’ve had all day.
Now, I don’t expect everything I create to be the epitome of fine cuisine (see the Case of the Melting Mystery Machine), but allowing me to create at all is the best form of sugar rush: non-fattening and perfectly filling.
While I’m only a hobby baker, I am unequivocally a writer. I want to write. I hunger for it. Are you hungry too? Great. Now, step aside and just let me get cooking. Thanks.
And with that, I leave you all to salivate… uh, ruminate… over what brings you joy — despite discouragement.
Happy holidays, one and all!