And Then It Blew Up in My Face

It’s been awhile since I’ve used a kitchen analogy. I think I need to correct that right now.

I made spaghetti and meatballs earlier this week for dinner. It’s a staple in my kitchen: fast, easy, and delicious.

This wasn’t my first time cooking. I know how to make a simple meal.

(Feel free to use the recipe below, but you have to attribute it to the wise and glorious CookingDragon…just kidding. That’s not really how this story goes.)

NOT-Made-From-Scratch Spaghetti and Meatballs

  1. Fill a pot, not too high, not too low, with warm water from the faucet and place it on a stove top burner to boil.
  2. Place frozen meatballs in another pot and cover them with spaghetti sauce.
  3. When the water in the first pot begins to boil, place the spaghetti in the water. 
  4.  Now you can place the pot containing the meatballs and sauce on another burner. Remember to only use medium heat and to stir occasionally.
  5. Everything should be done at the same time. So you can take both pots off the stove, drain the spaghetti, combine everything, and top with generous amounts of parmesan cheese.

Tasty!…When done right. I would urge everyone to take note of the missing information from step 4: “…stir occasionally, slowly, and carefully, after removing the pot from the burner.”

I don’t know what was going through my mind when I reached out with that wooden spoon. The sauce had just begun to boil. I decided that I’d better give it a good stir before everything began to stick to the bottom. I don’t know about the first three adjectives, but I definitely forgot to remove the pot from the burner. I stuck one hand out to turn down the heat, used my other hand to “attack” the sauce with a wooden spoon, and then it just blew up in my face! Literally!

There was sauce on my face, my glasses, my shirt, the stove, the other pots and pans on the stove, the toaster oven, the counter. There’s even a few specks of sauce on the wall that I still don’t know how to get rid of (Shhh, don’t tell my husband.) Thankfully, not too much of the scalding hot liquid got on my skin.

Then of course the other pot had to start boiling over. So…not my best night. I did manage to get it together enough to clean everything up before my husband got home. In the end, it was still a delicious meal.

What does this have to do with reading or writing?

I’m glad you asked.

There are generally two types of readers: 1. those who will stop reading a book because they don’t like it and 2. those who will continue reading a book they don’t like just because they have to finish it.

It seems so straightforward. I’ve picked out interesting books before, so I should be able to pick out my next favorite book, right?

Sometimes…sometimes not.

I don’t always like to admit it, but I don’t finish every fiction book that I start. In fact, I’m reading a book right now that I don’t know if I can finish. Something about the way that the narrator uses an obnoxious third person narrator and talks about events that happened in the past every other paragraph. You know what, there isn’t a prequel! I’ve checked more than once!

These things are just some of the pet peeves in writing that make my skin crawl. I feel obligated to continue reading a little longer because it just seems like a great story. However, there are other books that I’ve read all the way through after telling myself that I wouldn’t. I’m not a book serial murder or something like that. It’s hard for me to stop reading a book…but I can do it.

So what if that book looked really cool on the shelf? So what if millions of other readers adored it? I’m going to risk one more query, the one that actually seems the most relevant, and risk possibly being shunned forever by the book community–So what if it’s part of a series and all  the other books are amazing?

If recreational reading stops being fun, for any reason, that means it’s time for me to put down the book. I want to stop reading before it blows up in my face.

I want to know which type of reader are you? Why?

If you are the first type of reader, at what point do you stop reading? What is your breaking point?  

If you’re the second type of reader, what is it that motivates you to keep going?

Let’s go ahead and translate this into something writers can understand. You wrote something truly magical yesterday, while you were in that chair, in that room, writing in that notebook, with that type of music turned up, after eating that breakfast burrito.

It was such a great experience, you decided to go get another breakfast burrito , sit back in that chair, and write another chapter the next morning…But your brain freezes. The words just aren’t making sense. You pull out what you wrote yesterday, your inspirational books, your dictionary, and you keep trying to write something, anything, for hours.

It’s just not working.

Welcome to writer’s block! 🙂

Now, you and I know that writer’s block exists, but some people refuse to accept that it does. For someone like me who has other loves and little time on her hands, I can go months without writing and *gasp* years without writing anything that I consider actually good (beyond the blogging community.)

How do I cope with this? Sometimes I just can’t. I have to put down the pen and paper and shut off the computer, but I keep the voice recorder on. I’ve found that it’s my truest friend when it comes to this sort of thing. I have a harder time dealing with writer’s block than an uninteresting book. Recreational writing constantly blows up in my face. I’m sure I’ll figure it out someday, but for now I have to be happy writing in little stolen pockets of time.

How do you deal with writer’s block? What’s the worse case of writer’s block that you’ve had and why? 



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