Leftovers are Yummy!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Meatloaf, pizza, whatever. It tastes better the 2nd day, preferably while still cold from the fridge. And I like neither meatloaf nor pizza when they're fresh.

I don't know why it works this way, but it seems to be a universal truth. Maybe it's the cold, or the extra time the dish spends soaking in the seasonings. Maybe some of the simple sugars have started to break down. Maybe it's as simple as yesterday was a bad day for ground cow mixed with tomatoes or that today no one says I "have" to eat it. Something happens between the time food is served and the next morning that makes it infinitely more appealing.

Guess what? Writing works the same way.

Hate your MC? Think that you've just burned four hours cranking out a few thousand words of drivel? Forgot what momentary mind lapse made you think this was a good idea? Wondering if McDonald's is hiring because the paper hat would bring in more than you've earned writing so far?

Let it set and walk away.

Take your MS, put in that Ziploc baggie called a file folder and store it in that big and not so very cold fridge you call a desk. (It's that big lump of wood your computer sits on. The one that means you can call your corner of the kitchen a "home office".)

Go do something else. Take a walk, outline a new novel, or learn Portuguese, it doesn't really matter so long as what you're doing doesn't involve looking at that stack of papers in your drawer. Don't touch them for at least 48 hours. They're marinating. (And if you want to know what happens if you disturb the marinating, just picture a really angry Martha Stewart facing off with a really angry Gordon Ramsey... *terrifying*)

Once the time's up, take out the pages and read it again (this is the "sniffing" part where you open that corner of the little plastic box to make sure what's inside doesn't have fur). Most times, you'll find yourself shocked at how likable the MC is. That drivel may still not be so great, but it's no longer cause to toss the MS (and the computer that spawned it) through the nearest shredder. (Shredding a computer is never a good idea, btw, it's very difficult to get the speakers through that tiny little slot.) Your idea is still viable.

Now put down that cold chicken leg and get writing!

Leftovers are just yummy.

(Unless it's Mac & Cheese. No amount of cold congealing or setting in the fridge can make something that looks like slime covered maggots palatable... and for that I blame watching The Lost Boys when I was a kid and seeing the noodles turn to worms. TMI? Probably.)


7 Chiming In:

Ashley A. said...

Well, I'm going to tuck my ms in the fridge and wait a bit, then slice it up thick and put it on some good bread with ketchup, mayo, vidalia onion and a healthy sprinkle of kosher salt and black pepper. Hot damn!

Terry Towery said...

I prefer my pizza hot, but I get your point. ;)

I'm in the process of stepping back from the first book right now. I'm hoping it changes itself into something good while I'm not looking.

Anonymous said...

Usually I feel the same about something after it sits for a while. But I just try so hard not to be too critical of my work. It can really take a toll on you!

PS I agree with you about the mac 'n cheese. Leftovered = uncheesy gunk

Stephanie Thornton said...

When I was in college I loved leftover mac and cheese. Never have been a big fan of cold pizza though.

And a MS can be much better after it's cured for a while. Or worse. Just depends.

Angela McCallister said...

LOL, perfect analogy! I often run into trouble when I read my stuff too many times over and over. When I do that without taking a break once in a while, it starts all sounding dull to me. I lose perspective.

...and homemade chili always tastes better the next day as well...

Jaleh D said...

Mmm homemade chili. My husband makes awesome chili, and he always makes enough for most of it to become leftover, just for the second (and third) day appeal.

I never thought of comparing my MS to leftovers. Especially since I'm not big on leftovers in general, just certain things like spaghetti sauce and chili.

It does help to step back and refocus, letting the eyes relax from the myopic view. Sometimes after stepping back, it's still a scribble, but sometimes, there is something that makes me go, "I wrote that? Wow."

Cynthia Reese said...

This works. It wouldn't work for The Husband, b/c he hates leftovers, but it definitely works for me. Thanks for the reminder!

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