Well I was all set to go to the BCSFA meeting tonight, but while at Denny’s, my IBS decided to throw me a loop and I had a highly unpleasant time in the bathroom, after which I knew that I had to skip the meeting and come home.
I can feel things twitching down there. Right now, just about anything could happen. I know this from experience. So I thought I had better come home, where I can relax, be mellow, and never be more than six feet from the toilet.
That, of course, leaves me with nothing to do but sit in front of this a-here computer. So I figured, WTF, I’ll blog.
In truth, I have really missed you, my audience. I am loving the writing I am doing, but I miss sharing my thoughts and experiences with an audience. In theory, I could blog once I am done writing, but by then, I am pretty much out of words.
So it just doesn’t happen.
But what the hey, I am here alone, I am done writing, and I have a lot of Diet Coke in me. Let’s share!
The work is progressing nicely. I had a bit of a writer’s epiphany when I was between chapters earlier : I do not think I am capable of rewriting. I just can’t do it. To me, it’s all about the act of creation. The very idea of walking in my own footprints again makes me wanna barf. This vehicle only goes forward.
And I know that’s a problem. A lot of people say writing is rewriting. Well, if that’s true, I am fucked. I can’t imagine doing it.
I can edit my stuff, if I make myself do it. Go back in, proofread, tighten up sentences, maybe rework a paragraph or two. But that is it. I can’t imagine ever being able to write the same thing again but better.
So it seems that, like with everything else in life, I have to take an approach that is perpendicular to the usual way. I learn to write by writing, like, a lot. And it works… my writing definitely improves over time. I get better and better at saying things in fewer words and getting a lot more content, a lot more of me, across in my writing every day.
I hope this means that my work is becoming more refined as I go, and so my first (and only) drafts are better than most people’s first attempts. That way, maybe I can attract an editor, and then together we can make the thing as good as we can.
Dunno what I’d do if he told me to rewrite something, though. That would be a real pickle.
Of course, I have continued to bake, with varying degrees of success. My success rate should be going up, though, because I have figured out that our oven is very… moody. Sometimes, despite what the dials say, it just doesn’t turn on. Other times, it does turn on, but only just barely. So I am not getting even 10 percent of the temperature that I need.
Turns out that in order to get things to bake properly, I have to set the oven timer then slam the oven door REALLY hard to get it to actually engage. It is all starting to feel rather BDSM, with the oven as my demanding, disobedient bottom.
Still, every day I bake something. Most days, that’s what I am doing between 5 and 7 in the evening. It’s fun, it’s exercise (relative to my usual totally sedentary lifestyle), and I get healthy desserts out of it.
Well, relatively healthy.
Recently I have branched into cakes. I have not made a lot of cakes in my life. Squares, yes, but not cakes. Squares are less of a commitment. Some of them, you don’t even have to bake. You just mix it together, spoon it into the cake pan, and stick it in the fridge till it sets.
Cakes are just a bit more technique heavy. For example, I made a lovely sugar-free chocolate cake yesterday, then neglected to turn it out of the pan when I was supposed to, and so it burned on top. Dough!
Oh, and the icing… oh the icing. The recipe included two different icing recipes, and I much prefer vanilla icing on a chocolate cake over chocolate, I tried the vanilla one.
The first sign of danger was that the recipes was like half shortening. Shortening in icing? Who wants to smear fat all over their nice tasty cake?
But I figured, there’s not a lot of Splenda icing recipes, so I will give it a try. And the results were… utterly vile. It looked like rancid cottage cheese, smelled like a candle factory fire, and tasted like vanilla lard, which is basically what it was, when you get down to it.
At first I thought I had over-thickened the milk. This was the sort of icing where the first step is to heat up some milk with cornstarch in it. When it gets warm enough, the milk turns into a thick paste.
Why? Because cornstarch is some freaky ass stuff, that’s why, It is weird as heck to watch happen. It’s like… where did all that moisture go? How can a cup of milk turn into a quarter cup of paste in a matter of seconds?
The answer : the cornstarch took the remaining liquid as tribute for its demonic master.
Anyhow, eventually I figure out that the real problem was that the recipe assumed you had an electric mixer (you know, a social dance where electrons from different schools get to mingle), and I do not. Normally, that is not a problem. I can do most things an electric mixer does, it just takes more elbow grease.
Although to be fair, my elbows have a heck of a lot less grease than they used to.
But one thing an electric mixer can do better than a mere human is homogenize things, and so it might be that if I had a mixer like that, it would have been able to fully homogenize the mixture and made something edible out of it.
It also occurred to me that I might have been able to treat it like a lumpy gravy and heat it up very slowly, stirring constantly, to make the lumps disappear.
But alas, that thought only occurred to me after I had flushed the stuff down the sink. Luckily, even without icing on its burned top, chocolate cake is still pretty good.
Next time, vanilla cake. Partly because I actually like vanilla cake more, but mostly because I am out of cocoa.
And I don’t know what kind of icing it will be, but it definitely will not contain shortening. That’s just too gross to me now. That probably leaves me with boiled icings, which is also an issue for obscure reasons.
See, when I was a kid, my mom found this boiled icing recipe that she really liked. Apparently it was simple and easy. So that stuff became the default icing for everything, and I started out not liking it. It was thick and syrupy and heavy and has this sort of greasy texture and a very shiny surface. It was nothing like you would get at a bakery.
So you can imagine how sick of it I got. So now when I think “boiled frosting”, I think of it and I go eww. I am sure there must be very nice ones out there, light and sweet and thin, but I have to get over the bad memories first.
What else…. hmmm. Not a heck of a lot, really. My life is pretty much writing and baking lately. I rather like that idea, honestly. It sounds like the sort of thing you are supposed to be upset about, but I like thinking of my life as something simple, honest, and productive.
Makes me feel like an artisan, which is not easy when you are a writer. I love writing and I love reading, but it’s hard to escape the basic intangibility of writing as an art form. Perhaps that is why books are so important. They are at the very least a physical manifestation of the writer’s craft. Something you can point to and say “I did that!”.
You can’t do that with an eBook.
Well, anyhoo, I an done for now. Time to lay down. Do glad I got to blog at you nice people tonight.