A lesson from the fridge

We joined a CSA this year – that’s community supported agriculture for those who don’t live in farm country (or in my case, farm and mall country) – and pickups began last week. And wow is that a lot of produce. I’ve never even seen rhubarb in its natural state before. Though I’m happy to report it makes a nice compote over yogurt.

The trick now is in figuring out what to do with all the produce before 1. we get to the next pickup day or 2. it goes bad. Saute the spinach? Make kale chips? Or just make the world’s biggest kale-spinach-arugula-zucchini-radish salad and place bets on whether the kids eat any?

I think sometimes writing a book feels like trying to use everything in the fridge.

You know what you have. You know what you want your characters to say and do. You know every little thing about them. And you’ve spent so much time working all these details out, you’ve got mental flow charts and graphs on every aspect of your story, and to you, it’s all equally important. So you throw it all in. You make the world’s biggest salad.

Unfortunately the salad tastes a little odd. Like maybe you should have considered the ingredients a little more carefully.

It’s hard to pick what goes and what stays. I’m running into that now with my novel-in-progress. There’s an entire subplot I’m not happy with. I’ve invested some time and energy in working out that subplot. Part of the plot depends on that subplot. But it’s not hanging together. In fact it’s distracting from the main plot.

I need to ditch the subplot, clearly, and replace it with something that keeps the focus on the main plot. I’m not sure yet how to go about doing that. But at least I know I need to do it.

So I’m throwing stuff back in the fridge. Maybe I’ll use it later. Maybe I won’t. But at least I still have the ingredients I really need.

And if what’s in the fridge goes bad, well, I do have a compost bin.

And now I’ve stretched that metaphor about as far as it should go.


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