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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Floating

floating in a tranquil sea
my thoughts drift to what might be
concerns and chaos slip away
as I inhale a perfect day

clouds above sail slowly by
white against an azure sky
I close my eyes and feel the grace
the sun’s caress warm on my face

years of pain
the tides of time
have scoured the beaches
of my mind
at last, surrendered
to my fate
I no more struggle
with death’s date

floating in a tranquil sea
I smile and simply
let it be

tio stib
2015, 2018

You might also enjoy: Control Freaking, A Mirrored Smile

Dirty Snow

Dirty Snow
there are days
sometimes weeks or more
when my spirit knows
that the purity of newness
the first flakes of snow
have been trampled
discolored
covered in ash and fallen smog
and life
my daily exercise
becomes a journey
of hope and expectation
waiting for the magic moment
when sun reveals
a patch of sparkling green
from beneath
dirty snow

tio stib
2015, 2018

You might also enjoy: Weather Systems of the Mind, Seattle Sun

Breaking Trail

in winter stillness
ancient aspens watch
a chickadee flitting past
feathered music
bouncing
over infinite blue

alone
atop the buried meadow
a man paused
turned
looked back at the trampled snow
the trail of footsteps
each print a shadowed testament
to sweat falling from his brow

all he could see was white
reflected memories in a sea of snow
light’s harsh truth
stinging weary eyes

a deep sigh
a gasp of icy air
a hesitation in the heartbeat of being

a smile

he chooses life

again

tio stib

2016, 2018

You might also enjoy, If, Invictus

Beyond Reason

Is it tragic When reason
pummels passion?
Can I truly breathe
When logic conquers all?

how controlled must my life be
by unseen boxes
how much more of me exists
beyond my fenced in mind

if passion storms
my consciousness
if obsession drives
my soul astray
can I surrender
the crutch of rationality
to be whole and free
again

tio stib

2014, 2015, 2018

You might also enjoy: Lines, Hanging with Happiness

 

Seattle Sun

a bright Spring day
after weeks of grey
students spilling
out to play

Blasts of sun
clothes undone
smiles and screams
and naked fun

a writhing mass
my eyes aghast
I even saw
a bare white ass

but Came the clouds
and then wet rain

Seattle weather
once again

Tio Stib
2015, 2018

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