Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bake your Best Cake

"We need to give ourselves permission to act out our dreams and visions, not look for more sensations, more phenomena, but live our strongest dreams—even if it takes a lifetime."
~ Vijali Hamilton ~

This is a rant I could preach for weeks. I've preached it as a parent, as a grant consultant, and now, I preach it most loudly as an author.  We do not take time to accomplish our goals anymore. Instead, we rush. And for some reason, we've taken a selfish stance that we are entitled to rush. Then in the end, we feel we deserve the same attention as those who took their time to achieve success, as if our short-cut was smart enough to take up the slack.

Oh snap, huh! Hope got up on the wrong side of the bed today! Nope. Like writing for no money, this is a point I feel passionately about. We need to take time for things that matter most.

Let's bake a cake.  How do you start? You grab a box that says yellow cake mix. Um...no. You pick up a can that says white frosting. Um...seriously, absolutely not. Well, if you're making a cake for a not so important event, maybe. But if this is a wedding, an anniversary, a huge birthday, a memorable event, you wouldn't dream of a box cake. You make it from scratch. And if you can't make it yourself, yet have the design sketched out along with the flavors you must have, then you hire it out to someone noted for baking the best cakes.

In other words, you want this cake to matter, be memorable, melt in someone's mouth. You want people to ask you the ingredients and marvel at the unique idea.

When we throw a book together in two months, edit it in a week, format it in a day, and throw it up on Amazon, we're looking at a box cake. It serves a purpose. It doesn't taste bad (hopefully). But it's forgotten as soon as it's consumed. "How was the cake?" "It was all right."

As writers, we hope to become the authors we've come to know as household words. But the work that goes into becoming so successful is phenomenal. It isn't accidental. The talent isn't karma, or stars aligning up at the right time. It's sweat, it's development, it's a fight to improve, and a drive toward excellence. Not a drive to hold a book. 

When somebody says they can't wait to hold a book in their hands, I question their motive for writing. The quest is to make a mark on the world with a story that nobody else could have woven so well. Even if it's the only book you'll ever write, it's remarkable. Not one anyone could have mixed together from a box on the shelf. 

Be patient. Learn your craft. Invest years into delivering your best. Instant gratification is just that, instant. It’s not an investment of your best. It’s not long-lasting.

6 comments:

Sioux said...

Hope--This post came at just the right time. I have a picture book that is just about finished, revising-wise, I have a publisher, but the illustrations are taking longer than expected.

I am impatient and in a hurry. I vacillate between wanting to SEE the words married with the pictures and realizing that it will be better to have them done well than have them simply "done."

I definitely want to end up with a cake that is not just "okay." I want a cake that will win every bakery contest in town, a cake so delectable that people will be talking about it for years and years.

Sioux said...

Hope--This post came at just the right time. I have a picture book that is just about finished, revising-wise, I have a publisher, but the illustrations are taking longer than expected.

I am impatient and in a hurry. I vacillate between wanting to SEE the words married with the pictures and realizing that it will be better to have them done well than have them simply "done."

I definitely want to end up with a cake that is not just "okay." I want a cake that will win every bakery contest in town, a cake so delectable that people will be talking about it for years and years.

Lynn said...

This makes total sense to me. Thanks!

Karen Lange said...

Good point. Worthwhile things shouldn't be rushed. I am guilty of this at times. Thanks for the reminder!

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

great post, such a good reminder of what drives to write in the first place. It takes time, effort, and patience to create a story a reader is reluctant to leave. Thanks for the reminder.

Mischievous Angel said...

I started a novel in high school. One, my oldest son would like me to finish by his 18th birthday next year. So many times I have restarted it, went onto something else, etc., etc. I will finish it. It's my dream project, even though I have other writing I have done in the mean time. But, this one is special. I realize that my life experiences have given more to the story than it would be if I had gotten it written out from the beginning. It is not even recognizable and more mature. In the end, my grape juice from twenty years ago will be a vintage wine.