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The Unnatural Cook

a chronicle of weekly meal plans from someone who can't just throw a meal together

I don’t write like I meal plan. I don’t sit down and plot in advance how the piece will go (beginning, middle, end-wise) in the way I plot how the week will go (food-wise). Lately, in class, there have been hints about the flaws of this approach. Namely, if you don’t know where you’re headed, you don’t get there purposefully.

I’m conflicted. I want to lead readers purposefully toward a conclusion but if I know the conclusion before I write will it ruin the joy and discovery? Do you see less on a drive if you map it first? Well, I actually have some experience with that. Two years ago we drove across country and back. We had a broad plan for sights we wanted to hit, we knew where we’d start and end (home) and we knew what day we had to reach the middle (California). We plotted our route a few days at a time, but not the whole trip before we’d left. Once we were on the road we relied heavily on maps, but we rarely took the main highway. We took the scenic byways as much as possible till they lead us to grand sights.

Maybe that’s the trick. A loose outline – beginning middle end – some key moments – and then, get there as beautifully as possible. It seems that with cooking and writing I need to improve in opposite directions. To become a better cook, I need to learn to plan less; but to become a better writer I need to learn to plan more.

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