I baked a bad, bad thing….
No truly, I baked some cookies that were terrible. My big mistake was using the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip packet. I know, I know, you are shaking your head right now, I can feel it. My defence is that I was starving (for cookies specifically) and the recipe was right there and I (mistakenly) thought: surely they’ve done lots of testing. Hmmm. The ingredients seemed about right, the mixture wasn’t too bad. And then. Hello, strange, little, disappointing, mouth-drying cookie.
I’ve had a similar experiences with my writing. Everything is going okay but the end result, which I want to be wonderful, is not so. I was reassured to read your recent post about editing – how you had thought that a good writer should not have to edit a thing but it should all flow out perfectly from the first word. I think this is what a lot of people assume and certainly the delusion the good ol’ inner critic likes to rock. It should be perfect, first time… right? Nope. Hardly ever.
The hard part, the important part is what you do next. You asked me recently, what I think is the most important quality for a writer to possess. I answered curiosity. But runner up has to be “start-over-ability”. That crucial combination of optimism and tenacity. The dedication you put in to dusting yourself off and getting back into it. Perhaps the way I am describing it sounds slightly glamorous, like that running up steps, air punching scene in Rocky. In reality it’s not so awesome. You’ve received another rejection, a scathing review is posted, you’ve re-written the same problematic scene four times, you’ve been slaving away on something for months, years even, and it’s just not working. Your confidence is in tatters…those are the dig-deep times. It’s not fun or romantic.
As for my tiny, weird tasting cookies – well, fortunately, I’m not easily dissuaded. The very next day I was back at the mixing bowl, new recipe in hand, brow earnestly furrowed. I even got bold and adapted the recipe I’d chosen. It’s something I’ve learnt about myself that if I have a kind of ‘epic fail’ I often get very focussed and determined. Probably more focussed and determined* than I would have been if my failure had been less severe. [Apart from in the case of snow-skiing which is a whole other story involving many failures and, finally, surrender to my complete talentlessness]
I baked the trousers off my cookie recipe. They were crispy on the outside, chewy in the middle, browned just so. The taste was sweet with a little salty, caramel from the brown sugar, rolled oat earthy and studded throughout with chocolate. When my sister and her husband came over we made ice-cream sandwiches with them and a creamy, hokey pokey ice-cream. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Start-over cookie: check. Now for some start-over writing. Big. Deep. Bracing. Breath.
Start Over Cookies:
1 cup /225 grams butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt (I like the coarse stuff – sea salt flakes or himalayan)
2 cups choc chips (I use 1 cup milk choc, 1 cup dark choc)
1 cup rolled oats
Pre-heat the oven to 175 degrees centigrade
Cream butter and sugars till smooth
Beat in eggs one at a time and then stir in vanilla
Dissolve baking soda in hot water and then add
Add salt, flour, chocolate and oats
Drop large spoonfuls on to ungreased trays and bake for ten minutes or until golden brown
Nom, nom, nom, nom….
HUGS, Hannah x
*Secret: I call it the “Well, F*#$k you then” phenomenon. I think my Mum used to call it “obstinance” or “being contrary”. I used to get called contrary a lot. I now consider it to be a huge compliment.