Baking Bagels On A Tuesday: Writer Life

Image for post
Image for post
The actual bagels

What the actual reality looks like from here

They are sitting on their parchment, fat white circles with a neat hole punched through each with my thumb a few minutes ago. Six of them, slowly rising as yeast cells multiply inside their gluten skins. In thirty minutes or so they will get a swim in sweetened boiling water for a minute or two and then a nice 400 degree tanning session in the oven, and I will have bagels.

Why I decided to make bagels midday when I have a pile of well paying work is a classic writer question. I might answer it’s cold outside, or I answered that complicated email from the Polish software company, or I’m irritated a tiny bit by a German software company wanting me to invoice them via PayPal which I hate, sort of. Or it could be a looming battle with Wordpress that I’ve been studiously avoiding for several days with a meeting requiring me to have dealt with it happening tomorrow.

Or it could be the novella I just read that either intimidated me or encouraged me to get my five hundred daily words done on the current novel I’m hacking away at. So, since I’m sharing, I might as well talk about that for a minute while the oven heats up.

The commercial writing is blissfully predictable these days. Even those marketing pieces are just a relaxing interlude, not unlike poking holes in dough with your thumbs. But the novel is a different thing.

My character, Nella, started out being a damaged person making a new life in a strange city, after her husband committed suicide (drama!). We watched from our third person perspective, not unlike a camera on a drone, as she put her life back together in an altered state. Then we altered that state, by her occasionally breaking that fourth wall (or is it the third, I forget) and telling us something she is feeling or remembering. All very stylized and minimal. That was the first part. Then I got stuck.

But I came back to it because I thought it was good and I liked her, or so I thought. But I couldn’t see where it was going. Then the second part happened. She jumped in twenty years later and started talking about her life, that past, and was she the writer or the character? Very meta.

So now I have this woman in my head, strong personality, brighter than me (of course), telling a story that I never saw coming. Writing fiction is simply weird and that is absolutely the best thing about it. Not anything like a software blog post or baking bagels, both of which I like, one for the money and the other for the chewy goodness I’ll have tomorrow morning.

Interlude. Sorry, I needed to take a minute and get the water boiling for my bagels’ bath. I was writing about a writer’s life, one of those ‘day in the life of’ things. The reason I’m writing this today is that I was a little unkind in a comment this morning on a blog post from an excited young man writing about getting paid for a blog post and how he did it and is now an expert. I think what I really wanted to tell him, and many here, is to be careful. These things will come back to haunt you years later when you may read yourselves and cringe at what you thought you knew. Or the things you wrote to convince others that you know.

The really unfortunate but wonderful thing is that we don’t know. If we knew how writing worked it would be boring and become a job. It’s like my morning meditation that almost always starts out sucking, as my mind does everything it can to distract me with random itches and aches and things I really need to do right away. But then you stick with it and just follow your breath and it gets interesting. It always gets interesting if you hang in there. Writing is no different. Well, I can think of two times it isn’t.

When I wrote advertising copy, clever stuff, I really hated it. It was BS and when marketing got measurable, I quickly ditched that stuff. And technical writing- it’s not for me, writing manuals and procedures. Fortunately there are people who like this kind of thing. Not me.

Ok, they’re in the oven and I have instructed Alexa to set a timer, about the only thing I use her for, if a disembodied voice in a plastic hockey puck can be a her. So, writing life. Here are a couple of words of wisdom:

  • Those who don’t write are often in secret awe of it. You can capitalize on this, literally, because people will pay you to do something they seriously dread.

Enough wisdom. It gets old fast.

The reality is that sometimes you just have to go do something else like baking bagels. This week, every paying job seemed seemed to turn into two jobs, which is amazing and overwhelming. I had too many things in my head this morning. My usual thing is a long walk or a workout in the weight room at the gym, but we’re having a bit of winter today and baking made more sense. And it smells good too.

Welcome to my life.

Written by

Novelist, Tech Marketing Writer, Growth Consultant. I have been a professional writer for over 20 years- 8 non-fiction books and 1 novel, many articles, etc.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store