Wednesday, December 29, 2010
They always tell you to write what you know, don't they? I was just thinking about that yesterday and today, as I seem to have got a bee in my bonnet about baking. I'm a lousy cook in general, but I can handle baking to a certain point. Of course I shouldn't really be baking right at the moment as I am on a restricted diet and cannot eat anything that I bake...meaning anyone who tries these things is going in a bit blind, the poor sods. But what does this have to do with writing? Well...
One of my characters rather unexpectedly ended up being something of a foodie. I don't really go into any detail because I don't know anything about cuisine aside from the fact it goes in my belly, but I was thinking as I attempted to make leavened bread yesterday "Hey, this is something Aleks would do!" Because he totally would. To the best of my knowledge, Aleksandr would be rather a dab hand at most things of that nature. It's a bit of an odd thing for him to be good at, actually, as when I first created him (when I was thirteen, would you believe), it certainly never crossed my mind that he would end up as a bit of an amateur chef. I doubt it crossed his mind, either! But as his character and the story evolved, Aleksandr went from being the very sheltered -- and very unwanted -- son of a Duke to the constant companion of a wandering hierophant of broken faith, and...well. Araben, for all he's a very smart man, is not a very practical one. Which isn't to say he'd let Aleksandr starve, exactly, but....well. By hobby Aleksandr was a horticulturalist and a botanist, and it seemed natural enough for him to learn how to cook and to bake as they lived their nomadic existence, and...well, apparently he decided he liked it.
I just found it interesting because this evening I decided to make scones. I've never made scones in my life -- or at least, never alone. My mother or grandmothers would always have been supervising me. For some reason I had it in my head that it was very difficult to make scones. Quite why this stopped me I don't know, considering I once made pavlova just to prove I could (pavlova's not actually hard to make, it's just extremely finicky and is at least half luck; I had more issues with the bloody tiramisu I made earlier this year, come to think of it). But I made scones, and they appear to be fine (as I said, I can't eat them, and my brother is yet to risk one). But the story I was working on the other night that has since flitted off into the competition ether? Involved Aleksandr rather randomly making scones for Jeramie. I imagine they weren't like mine, being that Jeramie isn't really the kind of person to have cinnamon and dates lying around the pantry -- frankly it's probably a miracle he even had flour and baking powder -- but...yeah.
So, they say write what you know, but I rather suspect in my case I write what I wish I knew. I'm the same about music and dance and art and higher mathematics; I can do all of these things to some degree, but not enough to make me happy. It frustrates me, in that I can aesthetically appreciate the inherent beauty of all of these things, and yet...I can't quite reach them myself. It's like I'm watching from the outside of the ballroom; I can get all the way up to the window in my best dress and press my nose against the glass, but...I'm still on the outside. Somehow, in my writing, I get to push through that glass. It's only as a shadow, and my presence there is as ephermeral as a mayfly, but...my words get me in. Because I can make the words dance for me in a way I cannot with these other disciplines. So...yes. Writing is a part of me, but it lets me borrow from other things that are not. And for that, I will be forever glad.