Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Why writing novels is like eating a chocolate croissant
Okay, let's back it up a bit and call that chocolate croissant by its real name: the ever-so-scrumptious pain au chocolat, and only my favorite pastry in the world. So why is writing novels like the mouth-watering pain au chocolat from France you might ask? Well, I'll tell you. And even if you don't really care and you'd rather eat a pain au chocolat than read this post, too bad. You won't find one on this side of the Atlantic that even remotely compares to the orgasmic tastes you'll experience in France, so you might as well stick around. And if you are in France, by all means turn your computer off and go enjoy one of the things your country does best.
Anyway, for me, writing really is as delicious as a chocolate croissant. Here's why:
1 - Before I begin a new novel, I'm thinking about it ALL the time. I'm brainstorming while I'm driving, while I'm talking on the phone, while I'm pretending to listen to my husband talk about his morning workout (sorry honey, it's true), and pretty much while I'm doing anything else that is not writing.
Likewise, when I know there is a buttery croissant with melted dark chocolate bursting out the middle waiting for me to take a bite, I can think of NOTHING else. This is normal, right?
2 - With each new chapter I finish, I feel a sense of fulfillment, of accomplishment, of satisfaction. Even if it's not perfect, the word count is going up, the story is moving forward (hopefully) and I'm closer to my end goal.
Similarly, with each bite of the gooey, flaky, chocolate croissant, I feel completely and utterly fulfilled. (Granted, with each bite, the waist on my jeans also feels more fulfilled, but that is irrelevant).
3 - When I've completed a novel (and I mean really completed - like I've read the thing four thousand times, run it through my critique group, edited, edited, and edited some more), I feel as if I am floating on a happy cloud and no one and nothing (not even those damn rejections that we know are part of the process) can get me down. AND, I'm excited and ready to get going on the next one.
Equally, when I finish a pain au chocolat, nothing can bring me down. I am running high on chocolate, butter, and bread, and if anyone even tries to point out the fact that the top button of my jeans is unbuttoned, I will laugh in their face. And then I will eat another croissant.
4 - Finally, whenever I'm writing, I forget about all of the drama that comes with life, and the cool part is that I get to impart that drama onto my main character! Sorry lady!
The connection to the chocolate croissant is obvious here. Clearly going into a self-induced chocolate/butter haze will make you forget about life's silly problems, and if it doesn't, just eat another one.
Okay, now for the true story that inspired this post, and that cool picture I took of the Eiffel Tower at the end of the rainbow:
I took a trip to Paris by myself two years ago, went to my favorite patisserie (bakery) in the 16th arrondissement, and bought myself the BEST pain au chocolat in the city. (I know this because I used to live in Paris and so have done the legwork. It was tough, let me tell you). Then I proceeded to take my greasy, flaky, butter-and-chocolate-filled delight on a leisurely stroll to the Eiffel Tower. As I was walking across the Seine River, munching on the pastry and fantasizing about moving back to Paris, a full-sized, gorgeous rainbow appeared right next to the tower. I finished my pain au chocolat right there on the bridge, took a thousand photos like any good American in Paris, and smiled to myself.
Now, I have yet to actually see a rainbow appear outside my window when I've finished a novel . . . but maybe rainbows are only reserved for perfect chocolate Eiffel Tower moments in Paris.