Lumpy Gravy, thoughts on writing Well

I’m working on the rewrite of a chapter in a new book and in spite of hours of effort, when I pause to listen to what I’ve written, it sounds like lumpy gravy.

Yes, I realize that gravy doesn’t talk, sing, or make any other noise, but it still seems the perfect metaphor for my imperfect words. In case you’re not familiar with gravy and, in particular, lumpy gravy, a brief description-

Gravy is a sauce made from cooked meat juices, stock, and other ingredients. One ingredient is flour, which is used to thicken the sauce. When the flour is added incorrectly, the result is lumpy gravy, little balls of unmixed flour in the sauce, a culinary no-no. Like good writing, I believe creating good gravy, a sumptuously smooth sauce, is a combination of rigorous practicality and delicate art.

My own experience is that lumpy gravy usually results from hurrying, compromising time and care because of impatience, setting an unrealistic timeline for creating something that simply cannot be rushed. There is a proper order and way to add and mix ingredients. don’t do this and you get lumps.

what are the lumps in my writing? Words and phrases that don’t sound right, feel out of place, don’t fit the desired style, don’t truly support the theme. Adverbs and adjectives that were easy to insert but, upon reflection, don’t add anything. 

What I write seldom comes out smooth and lump free the first time. Admittedly, I rarely succeed at creating lump free gravy either. In cooking, there are two ways to fix this, stir or whisk much more, or, something few will admit to, strain the gravy through a sieve to remove the lumps. 

This is what rewriting is all about, the writer’s process of removing the lumps from his work through careful consideration, in my case, listening as I can’t see what I’ve written. Often I brainstorm words, sentences, even paragraphs. with the magic power of today’s word processing technology and my text reader friend, Alex voiceOver, I can quickly try and listen to many options, until I hear something that is smooth and feels right. And on I move to the next paragraph.

Ultimately, I’m the cook in my word kitchen and I know, that unless what I’ve written passes my taste test, unless I’ve taken the time, done the work, to make perfect, lump free, gravy, those words can’t leave the kitchen.

tio stib

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Taxi School-Chapter 2

Introduction

Al McGinty, “Gint” as he is known to friend and foe, does not like change. He’s driven the same cab for thirty years, eats at the same cafe every morning, can’t say a nice word about politicians or lawyers, and worships New York City. He has a unique lifestyle, one true friend, Wally, and reads the New York Times each evening with a glass of brandy and a Cuban cigar. His is the perfect world.

But that’s about to change.

Gint is the main character in my novel, “Taxi School,” and you can follow Gint’s story as his life explodes and he is forced into one of Nature’s three ultimate choices-

Adapt, migrate, or go extinct.

I’ll be publishing a new chapter each week, hope you follow along. comments, on any line, are always appreciated.

tio stib

CHAPTER 2

“Jesus, Johnny, you got nothing better to do but read “Playboy,” blurted Gint as he burst into the office of Carlutti’s Car repair, “I can see you have a demanding schedule, but I need my cab, preferably today.”

ir.

Johnny, a good looking guy with a tanned face and a full head of slightly grayed black hair, was not the least bit moved by his surprise visitor. He remained seated in his swivel chair, boots up on the desk. and raised his magazine for Gint to view.

the title read, “World Traveler.”

“Lulu wants to get out of town,” said Johnny, “and what Lulu wants, Lulu gets.”

“As well she should,” replied Gint, remembering that  Lulu had been the hottest chick in the old neighborhood. She still turned heads. Lulu and Johnny had been lifelong sweethearts.

“As for my demanding schedule, hell, Gint, your Checker cab is about the only automobile I can work on anymore. These days, car repair is all about computers, and I’m not going there. J3 loves that crap and he can have it.”

J3  was John Carlutti  the third, the youngest of the male Carlutti line to work at the repair shop, and the kid Johnny yelled at as he opened the door to the shop, over the noise of air wrenches and occasional curses, “J3, move your sorry ass and pull Mr. McGinty’s cab out front!”

Gint saw a kid with a mop of black hair and grease on his face look up from under a car hood, smile, then dash outside. then Gint saw something familiar.

“Hey, Johnny, isn’t that Joey’s cab?”

Yep, he left it here last week. Asked me to sell it.”

“What?” Gint cried out, turning to Johnny in disbelief, “he can’t do that!”

“Well, he sure as hell did,” said Johnny, “came by, said he was hanging it up, asked me to send the sale money to an address in California.”

Stunned, Gint sat in a chair beside Johnny, speaking softly, “we’ve been in the business together for thirty years, bought our cabs together. We’re partners, a team, the last two Checker cabs in New York City.”

“Not any more, Gint, now you’re a team of one.”

The office street door opened, and J3 stuck his head in, “here you go Mr. McGinty, thanks for using Carlutti’s Car Repair.”

Gint mindlessly shook the kid’s hand and walked out.

On the sidewalk, gint whistled once and Wally came bounding down the street. Gint opened the driver’s door and the two climbed in to the last Checker cab in New York City.

-to be continued-

You might also enjoy: Taxi School – Chapter 1