Don’t be fooled into thinking the title of this post is literal; writing most certainly is not a piece of cake. However, I’m a writer, we do that metaphorical shizzle every now and again. It’s imagery innit? *Doesn’t understand why she’s suddenly writing like a faux Gangsta*
Cake is the perfect vehicle for describing the writing process. I also figured if I stuck the word ‘cake’ in the title I might be able to nick some of the millions of people who follow food blogs. Mercenary? Me? Yes, yes I am.
The humble Victoria sponge, an oldie but a goodie (kind of like me), will be my vehicle for explaining how the writing process works, or sometimes doesn’t, for me.
Behold the Writery Cake of Awesomeness (TM)
Guess I’d better explain it to you then…
1. Top Sponge = First draft
A first draft has to happen in order for this writing gig to begin. That’s the way the cake crumbles, or not if you don’t actually make anything.
The first draft is the top sponge because it’s alright in itself as a single sponge. You could eat it but it would be bland and lacking the extra loveliness of a full-on Victoria sponge cake fest.
It sits on the top, nicely baked but needs a little extra in its life (d0n’t we all?). The cake/writing is nowhere near complete at this stage.
2. Bottom Sponge = Revising/Many Drafts
You need to show the top sponge some love and give it a partner to shack up with. What the top sponge needs is a solid foundation to lean upon. This is where if you want a cake of beauty, you must add that extra sponge.
I always find that no two sponge layers come out exactly the same from the oven. One may have risen more, look more smooth, or is a little more golden. This is no bad thing (icing can cover a multitude of sins).
Your bottom sponge/revising drafts shouldn’t look exactly like your top sponge/first draft. If it did, then you’ve not made any changes at all – what the hell have you been doing? Facebook eh?
The bottom sponge/revising drafts should be firm and springy to the touch. No one likes a soggy bottom *totally nicking ‘Great British Bake Off’ punnage without any shame*
3. Cream = Editing
Buttercream rocks. It also takes some work to mix, as does editing.
Editing is like throwing your writing into the bowl and hoping and praying that what comes out is smooth and tasty. Lumpy buttercream isn’t great. Lumpy novels full of typos also leave a bad taste.
I love buttercream. It’s my cake filling friend. However, I hate mixing it if I have to do it by hand. Editing is the same. It’s arduous and painful but the end result of smooth and lovely goodness makes it worth the exertion.
Note: anyone who comments that I should use a mixer gets a slap. Don’t kill the analogy, what did it ever do to hurt you?
4. Jam = All the extra faff
I’m not a published writer yet. Does it show? Answers not on a postcard thank you, or in the comments section.
This isn’t a guide on how to write. Follow my path and possibly fail, or at least be grateful for being able to produce anything.
All the ‘extra faff’ for you fabulous published people inevitably involves book covers, blurbs, a synopsis, promo, sorting out self-publishing, or touting your wares to get traditionally published.
For the uninitiated like me it means getting distracted by social media when you should be writing but pretending that it’s promotion, getting involved in debates on Twitter regarding things you don’t care about but it’s a great procrastination tool, suddenly finding ironing is fun, fastidiously researching a minor plot point for your novel for five days rather than writing, and discovering a box set on Netflix that must be finished in a day.
My ‘extra faff’ is just like jam. It tastes so bloody good but an overdose of it can create a sugar/procrastination coma. The jam is necessary for the Victoria sponge. You’d feel cheated without it, but it’s supposed to be a thin layer.
Sometimes my writing days are ‘the jam’. That’s cos I’m funky. And so not funny.
5. Icing on the Cake = Being read
You don’t have to sprinkle icing sugar on top of your Victoria sponge but it’s lacking without. Give me some sugar. Give me some readers.
You can hoard your cake and scoff it alone but you will become (a) unpopular with your cake-loving friends (b) possibly a few sizes larger if it becomes a habit and (c) bored of cake.
The same goes for keeping your writing to yourself: constantly gorging on it, re-reading it, and editing until semi-colons hide in fear of death. You will eventually have more than your fill of your work.
We all need to share our writing. Give trusted people a slice. Just a little to begin with; no-one deserves a big piece straight away, they need to earn their sugary privileges. Then hope that the nibbles keep them coming back for more.
Choose readers you know like Victoria sponge/your genre, to begin with. Let them compare it to other cakes/genres they have tasted.
Then when you’re feeling more
stupid bold, maybe share it with those who aren’t fans of the Victoria sponge/genre. See if you can get them to appreciate its many layers. Possibly make converts.
You have my permission to smash the cake/writing in their face if they mock your creation. No one disrespects the cake/writing.
My cakery work is done. You may have learnt nothing from this but at least you now fancy a slice of cake. I am the gift that keeps on giving. I’m off to start a food blog…