A month or so ago I treated myself to a bread making machine. The plan was and still is to make gluten free bread for him-in-doors and speciality breads for me.
When my bread maker arrived I excitedly unwrapped it, washed it out and plugged it in. I then realised I didn’t have at least half of the ingredients needed, so of I went to the local store.
Half an hour or so later armed with my ingredients I read the instructions and a line at a time I diligently followed the recipe. For the next couple of hours, the house was filled with the glorious smell of baking bread. However, when the timer beeped sadly what came out didn’t live up to that delicious smell. The word ‘brick’ is the best word to describe my first attempt.
I decided to try again. So I double checked the recipe and my ingredients. I then realised the yeast I’d purchased wasn’t suitable for a bread maker. So off I went and sourced the correct yeast. My second attempt was less brick like but, to be honest, you’d have to have been desperate to have eaten it. Having run out of 'play' time I pushed the bread maker to the back of a cupboard.
A week later I visited a local farm shop and noticed they had some flours from small Indie flour mills. So I treated myself to a bag of flour plus a packet of mixed seed suitable for bread making. As soon as I arrived home out came the bread maker and another loaf was soon baking. This loaf sunk in the middle but was fairly edible, once toasted. I decided to read the ‘help’ notes in the back of the instruction leaflet and found I needed to adjust the ratio of flour to water. This I did and the next loaf was almost there.
It was whilst I was making my last loaf that it struck me that making bread is like writing a story. You see in my search for the perfect loaf I’ve had to adjust the ingredients (the characters and the plot). I’ve had to change some of the ingredients (add/remove some of the action, add/remove a character). I’ve improved the ingredients (the way I phrase a sentence, corrected grammar etc.). So the process I’ve gone through for improving my bread is the process I go through when I’m editing. With each adjustment my finished loaf has improved and with each tweak a story can be improved.
So next time you’ve completed your first draft remember it’s not until you start to tweak your ingredients that you’ll see those all-important improvements in your story.
My latest short story collection Coyote Tales Retold is available on Amazon in ebook format. Also available Meet The Tricksters a collection of 18 short stories featuring Anansi the Trickster Spider, Brer Rabbit and Coyote is available as a paper back and an ebook.
I run the following online courses for Women On Writing: