June 20, 2011


Let's say I ask you to come over and let me cook you dinner. I promise you great things, and you've had smaller dishes I've made before at potlucks and get-togethers. So you're fairly confident in my cooking abilities.

So, at the appointed day and time, you come over. You come into the kitchen and I hand you a plate of whole, uncooked potatoes, a pile of various dried herbs, and a couple of pieces of raw, frozen chicken. Bon appetit.

You look at me and say, "What's this?"

That's dinner.

"Dinner? Frozen chicken and hard potatoes?"

Well, it's not finished yet. I'm only part-way through the process. I'm going to thaw the chicken in a minute, in the meantime you can chew on the potatoes like apples, and eats the herbs with a spoon. Then when it's time to cook the potatoes, I'll take those and give you back the thawed chicken and a knife and fork. And on and on, piece by piece until the meal is finally done. Then you can eat what's left, if you're still hungry.

Which, of course, you won't be. And you'll probably never come over for dinner again.

The other day, someone asked me how the book was coming. I said fine. Just fine. Then they asked the forbidden question: "What's it about?" Of course, they didn't know it was the forbidden question. And I skirted around the answer and said I didn't like to talk about it, it impeded the writing process (for me). They acted shocked.

Then SoldierMan added that he didn't even know what it was about, but that I had told him he could read it soon and he was looking forward to it. They were even more shocked. SoldierMan told them no one has read it.

"What? Why wouldn't you let anyone read your project?"

Hence the illustration above. I don't care how good you think you are, letting someone read an unfinished manuscript - or one that's still early in the draft stages - is like serving someone raw chicken and potatoes and calling it "dinner." It may technically be "dinner," but only in the very, very technical sense.

A few months ago I thought I was near the end of my major drafting. But then, a new character surfaced that both completed my story (in the metaphorical sense) and added a whole lot more work for me to do. A blessing and a curse.

So, that's where I am right now. With raw chicken and potatoes. It's exciting and frustrating all at the same time. It's writing.


  1. Great analogy! I had never thought about writing that way before. I am not a writer but I have many friends that are and I know better than to ask the "forbidden question!"

  2. Some day, when you publish it, I will be the first to pre-order my copy!!!

  3. What a great way to put it!! I hope it all comes together for you soon.

    By the way, I gave you a small shout out on my blog today. Thanks for recommending Heaven by Randy Alcorn. I finished it and it was amazing!

  4. Ha. I love your analogy, but I have to ask... This week, when I come over you're not going to serve eggs and dough but actual dessert, right?! :)

  5. I like the analogy. I was confused at first, but I like it!

    Good luck with the writing process!

  6. Having been an editor (of instructional manuals), I can totally see where you're coming from. If someone handed me a manuscript, at any stage, I would be hard pressed to not edit it.

    I can just imagine all the comments you would get if you told people what the book was about, or let them read a partially finished manuscript. Everyone has an opinion. And what you're writing may not appeal that person. So keep it to yourself, until you're ready to share. And yay for having the patience to write a book!


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