I love soup. Almost every day for lunch I eat a salad and homemade soup of one sort or another. I’ve been making soup for years and it’s nothing for me to whip up something on a Saturday morning, freezing some so that I have enough to last a few weeks. I thought I knew quite a bit about making soup.
Until I went to a, “Chef’s Table” meal on the cruise I took.
The Chef’s Table was five courses with wine pairings accompanied by a detailed justification of the wine choices by the sommelier and an explanation of the food by the chef. The Chef’s Table was one of the more memorable things we did on this nine-day cruise of Italy and the Greek islands … a long and wonderful vacation and yes, eating is the thing I will remember the most. And the one item on the menu I will never forget is the soup.
Tomato soup. Simple, elegant and with a flavor I’d never experienced before.
We all gushed over it. I almost licked the bowl. I will never forget it. When we wanted to know what had made it so special, the chef told us that he had oven roasted the tomatoes.
Such a simple concept, but I had never considered that. I’d always sautéed my vegetables. I love oven roasted vegetables for dinner. Why didn’t I think of oven roasting my vegetables for the soup I love too?
Today, I made my first batch of chicken and rice soup with roasted vegetables. Amazing difference!
I’m talking about soup, but what I’m really talking about is writing. No matter how many words I write, I will never know all there is to know about the craft. There will always be someone who knows something interesting about plot, characterization, tension, description or editing. I can always learn more about publishing, query letters, pitching and submissions and how to get editors to say yes.
So, talk to other writers. Go to writing workshops and writing conventions. Get other writers to read your work and listen carefully to their suggestions. Even if you don’t learn anything new, even if the suggestions don’t work for you, you’ll be around likeminded people who will motivate you and encourage you to continue trying.
Or you might learn something very simple that will make all the difference.
I will be on a panel discussion and reading at the Bridging The Gap writer’s workshop this summer, June 2, in Duluth Minnesota. Bridging the Gap is a writing workshop for both civilian and military writers designed to improve their skills in telling stories about the military. Writers will be offered motivation, networking, classes in the craft of writing, and lessons in how to get published. Even though I’ll be on a panel, you can bet I’ll be sitting in on classes and networking.
I’ll also be on a couple of panels at AWP again this year. The annual Association of Writing and Writing Programs convention, March 7-10, this year in Tampa, Florida, isn’t cheap, but it’s turned into an essential event to keep me motivated and putting words on a page. Hanging out with veteran writer friends I’ve met there is good for my soul.
And speaking of good for my soul … this is the first blog post I’ve made since August! What the heck have I been doing? I’ve had my hands full selling my house and moving and working on a book about the history of Fort Meade on the event of the installation’s centennial anniversary. Thankfully, we’re very close to being done and the book will be launched next week. I admit to feeling a bit overwhelmed. I’m hoping things will slow down after the holidays and I’ll be able to concentrate on my own writing again. That’s the hope anyway.