Last night I hosted a family dinner and, as the weather has been cooling in anticipation of winter, I decided to cook a roast meal. This is always an easy way to feed a large group. Others had the responsibility of providing the befores and afters. I started early in the afternoon, knowing if I rushed my piece of meat would become dry and stringy. We’re in the middle of the TV MasterChef series here in New Zealand at the moment, so I felt the need to prove my personal cooking skills had benefitted from my time spent watching the programme.
Roast beef hasn’t been on the menu for awhile, so I decided to look to the internet to brush up my skills. I read and followed the instructions for cooking a roast to perfection and admit I wasn’t the only one delighted with the outcome.
This morning, still gloating over my success as I read a few blog postings over coffee, I became aware of how cooking roast beef is similar to producing a piece of writing. Here’s my advice for a succulent and flavoursome feast – with apologies to the creators of the original advice at http://www.themainmeal.com.au
Roast – or write – from room temperature. Interpret this as letting your idea sit in the temple of your mind a short while, as the project adapts to the task ahead. Let your idea test the room temperature before you rush in with insufficient understanding of how you’ll proceed.
Pre-browning and seasoning – brainstorm your writing ideas before you start. This will keep your juicy ideas within the framework of your writing, helping the writing to stay focussed and not lose any of its potential impact.
Size up your roasting dish – establish the best fit for your writing, whether this be short story, poem, novel or maybe a short blog piece.
Heat the oven to suit – having decided what shape or form your writing idea will take, flesh out your idea with a little more brainstorming.
Test for doneness – writing may not respond to tongs or thermometers, but it does benefit from being read through thoroughly. Ask questions to see if the piece says what you intended it to.
Rest the roast before carving – don’t be in a hurry to submit your work for publication. Let it sit awhile. Return with a fresh mind and make any necessary adjustments.
Season for extra flavour – sprinkle a little detail throughout to add to the flavour.
Follow this advice and you’ll produce a written feast enjoyed by the guests for whom it is intended.
Happy cooking , er, writing.