Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Writing is a lot like Chopped!

Maybe it's a sign that I'm a writer or maybe I'm just increasingly ADD, but when I start thinking about something, suddenly I see it everywhere. Lately it's writing metaphors. Now it's Chopped! You know, the TV cooking show.

Based on posts about writing metaphors, you might think I watch TV all the time. In fact, I really don't  really like TV. "Don't like" is an understatement. Actually, I pretty much detest TV, especially the part where they turn the commercials up really loud and these obnoxious guys with auctioneer voices start screaming things at you, things you wouldn't want to hear about even if they were speaking politely.

I have to admit it, though. Sometimes these commercials are really funny--like the whole family that was walking around in hooded Snuggies like members of some fuzzy cult, which you and yours are cheerfully invited you to join for only $19.95.  Or those drug commercials that show handsome gray haired men walking along beaches with lovely blond women who shake their tresses in the wind while some guy in the background says, "if you experience an erection lasting more than four hours..."

Seriously, though, TV is pretty much all just so much noise to me. But I live in a family of TV addicts. Sad but true. So sometimes, in the interest of appearing at least slightly social and conciliatory, I watch TV with people. With my daughter and her boyfriend, lately, I've been watching Chopped!

It's pretty engaging.

Here's four professional chiefs, each given a basket full of ingredients--odd pairings, like cotton candy, star fruit, matzo crackers and shrimp. They have to create a gourmet meal with these things in thirty minutes flat.  With each course of the meal, one of them is going to get chopped from the show. The skinny one is going to use her winnings to pay for an operation for her son--if she wins. But, yikes, she's allergic to shrimp!  It's drama, suspense and a ticking clock--with three critics watching their every move and poised to pass judgement. (We didn't miss the significance of three, did we?) Hey, what's not to like?

Which takes us back to the topic at hand.... writing is a lot like Chopped!

I won't drive it into the ground, I promise, but here we are, our baskets bulging with disparate story ingredients, odd things we've been given, things that cling to us, bits of a recipe that eludes us. We smell the aromas and savor the tastes and we're starting to make interesting connections...a cotton candy star fruit glaze with a shaving of ginger? How about a kosher salad with matzo croutons? A shrimp flower?

And of course there's the guy in the commercial hollering that for just $19.95 we can buy a phone app that will create an outline for us and find the storyline for any combination of ingredients...

We don't believe it, do we? We know better. We just grab the double boiler, turn up the heat and dig out that old the egg timer, the one with the loud tick...

Okay, okay. I'm done. No more writing metaphors. I promise. Let's just quietly get back to work, shall we?

Here's a parting shot, one of my favorites from Anne Lamott:

"I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much. We do not think that she has a rich inner life or that God likes her or can even stand her. (Although when I mentioned this to my priest friend Tom, he said you can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.)"

I bet you can guess where I am at in the process.....