Operation: salvage

Word count: 305                                                   Reading time: 2 mins.

We prepare our fruitcake in September. The ritual goes like this: drown dried fruit in rum, allow alcohol to evaporate, add more rum, repeat several times. Bake, wrap it in layers of cheesecloth, christen with a little more rum, and then store in a cool corner of the basement. Open it once a month to top up the rum level.

This year we seem to have been carried away by Christmas spirit. Literally. When we opened it today, three months later, it was sodden. It buckled under its own weight as we lifted it onto the serving platter. The bottom is more like pudding than cake. Lots of work and lots of waiting – to produce something that looks like a bakery reject.

Sometimes that’s how it feels with writing. Over the past four years I’ve devoted a good chunk of my life to a sweeping novel set in Australia. I work on it, ask for opinions, revise it, and then store it in a cool corner of my laptop to mellow.

I took that novel out again earlier this year but had to admit it’s still a bit of a bakery reject. I can see the cracks in it and its feet are muddy, but the flavour is still rich and spirited. Unlike this cake, my novel can be salvaged. The beauty of writing is that there’s no single point of failure; there’s always an opportunity to revise and improve. I’m going to open the Aussie adventure early in the New Year. I know it’s going to be a little bit stronger than the last time I looked. Watch this space. It may even be ready to submit to the market in 2012.

What’s cooking in your writing kitchen? Is there a rich fruitcake hidden on a pantry shelf?

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photo by: Alan Bolitho