So my daughter Lilly has been watching her cooking shows-Cake Wars, Kids Baking Championship, Chopped-and I’m reminded of how cooking and writing are related: both require a mixing of disparate ingredients to create something wondrous and new.
On Chopped, the competitors are given a list of three ingredients and a directive-“Create a delicious entree incorporating chili peppers, salmon, and okra. Go!”
It reminds me of one of my favorite creative exercises-a random combination of objects and/or situations. For example, “Write a story combining twins, an oak tree, and raspberry soda. Go!”
In my quest to get my creative juices flowing again, I’ve been paging through my writing practice notebook and came to a section where I was doing a lot of these exercises. Not really finished stories, just ideas on how to connect the three objects into a viable story. Some seemed like they could work; others not so much. But it didn’t matter. It was just fun.
Sometimes I wrote about things I read in the newspaper that demanded a story, like the little blurb about the mother found swinging her dead child in a swing at a playground. There wasn’t much information, just a mother swinging her dead baby. What on earth was going on here? Fill in the blanks.
Or the the blurb about the body missing from a coffin at a funeral. I thought I’d combine this with a strange happening from my own life, like the time Lilly and I were walking down the street and a bird fell dead at our feet, straight out of the sky:
Something strange was going on in Twin Falls. It all started the day the woodpecker fell dead at our feet with a tragic peep. When Uncle Randolph’s body wasn’t in his coffin at the funeral, I knew the two events had to be connected.
Silly? Maybe. But who knows what kind of story might have come out of it had I kept on writing. And that’s the point: keep on writing, keep on playing. I’ll lick this block yet.