Plans that pan out and soda breads - the story of my life in close to five minutes
Exactly one week ago my son began his school Summer break. I was on a roll to getting my latest novel finished so I could spend the two months ahead of me - until he goes back to school in September - editing, correcting, revising and re-reading the two final books on my 'The Preternaturals' series. Knowing ahead that with the kid home from school I would not have the freedom to write at will, I pushed on and on and managed to get that first draft over and done with, now pending some work. I had it all planned out, as I usually do. Because real concentration is impossible when you have a kid calling out "MUUUUUM" every five seconds, and because he needs to be entertained - meaning he needs me to give him some undivided attention, translating into walks in the park, games, reads, movie watching and what not along with mum - I had no intention of starting work on my next project aside from the proverbial synopsis and the jotting down of ideas and charaters. There was to be no writing, only the editing process of my finished works. That was the plan.
But plans in my life are always a funny thing. Or not so funny, really. I can never stick to them, for starters. Right as the weekend started my mind was abuzz with ideas for my new novel. I had to jot them down, and found myself writing a rather nice prologue to the story. Said to myself I was gonna leave it at that, the prologue sounded good, it introduced the story in an intriguing, interesting way, and it should stay at that. I put it aside and tried to do some editing on "Supernatural". But as I put my head down on my pillow that night, my brain kept going round and round with ideas and dialogues and chapters I had to write. I wanted to write. So I found myself strapped to my laptop from Monday onwards, the thoughts flowing, fingers flying across the keyboard, word after word that turned into sentence that turned into paragraph that turned into scene that turned into chapter. Easily enough, with a flow belonging to those first few chapters on a new book, I always thrive as I'm introducing the story to the page.
Right now, I'm thirty pages into it and my head is still full to the brim with ideas. I was planning on sitting down today to do some editing, but as soon as I lay my bum on this chair, I opened the file for my new work, because I had been writing up a very good and important chapter in my head while I showered - some of my best ideas do happen there. I'm trying to stay away from it, by putting up this blog post, which wasn't supposed to be the post for today, but I soon realised that the recipe I wanted to share, I failed to edit the photos. Because I was already too far into another story and my mind wasn't even thinking right. Because all I wanted to do was immerse myself in that world, that place, those characters, I forgot I had like a ton of photos to work through and edit. Some days I wish there were two of me, I honestly do. Because the kid is home and needs me, because I also want to spend time with him, I have to stay away from the laptop more than I wished. And because my mind is so stuck with telling a new story, other things suffer for it.
One of the things I tend to resort to when I need to re-focus my head is baking soda breads. I have been baking a lot of them lately, because it's something my son loves doing in the kitchen, and we can bake them together, and because it's something that allows my brain to take a respite from other stuff and go through a check list of what needs to be done. I can't forget to exercise, my brain tells me while I mix the flours, so I draw up a timetable that allows me to slip in half an hour in the mornings and half an hour every afternoon. I mustn't forget to do the ironing, it goes on. I add that to my timetable, wondering when's the perfect day for it. The house needs a clean up. Another task to be tackled, this one usually on a Monday. And so it goes, while I'm adding buttermilk to flour mixes, and scooping up walnuts from the jar to coarsely cut and throw in, while I'm measuring up teaspoons of salt and baking soda, while my house is invaded by the fragrant scent of bread baking in the oven. And when my brain is already elsewhere and I have managed to dettach myself from the impending need to write, I get the bread out.
And it smells amazing, and it looks amazing and my mouth is watering at the sight. But my brain is already making the connections, of how rustic this bread seems, like something someone would bake in the dark ages, and wait a moment, isn't your new novel set partially in the dark ages? And aren't you feeling the mood of the story, look at that earthy, homely, rustic bread, think about the ladies of the house, a very special house, back in the days of yore, hands drowned in flour, kneading and kneading away, making their own special kind of magic. And doesn't this inspire your to write, don't you just want to go and sit down and weave your own magic and write? Dive into this new world of yours, inspired by the scent of this bread, and write away this story, you know you want to. This is what my brain does, and when I think I'm safely out of its claws, it finds a way of making my creative juices flow in the direction it seems to want to, and I find myself sitting down to write yet another sentence, yet another scene, and all my editing is pushed to the corner, and my photos sit in my camera and not my desktop, because there's only so many hours in a day and something's gotta suffer for it. And I tell myself I need to re-organize my days, my time, but it never pans out.
What it usually does pan out is my soda bread. This one has a handful of chopped walnuts thrown in for good measure, as well as roasted barley for colouring.
- 250 gr strong bread flour
- 100 gr rye flour
- 50 gr roasted barley
- 1 tsp soda bicarbonate
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 egg, large
- 300 ml buttermilk or yogurt with a few drops of cider vinegar
- a handfull of coarsely chopped walnuts