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The plum chutney guide to writing a blog post

9 September, 2007 Posted by Joanna As Snippets

I was being unusually domesticated today and bottled up a jar of home made plum chutney.  Now this wasn’t just procrastination (which  has been known to prompt sporadic bursts of cooking and cleaning): the plums were ripe, over-ripe and demanding attention.  Just like the piece that I’d promised to write today for Joyful Jubilant Learning, on learning to make a difference.

Well if the writing wasn’t ready the plums certainly were, so I decided to see what I could learn about the writing process as I chopped, simmered and cooked.  Here’s what I came up with:

1.    Preparing the plums. Hmm… quite a lot of the fruit has already gone off and needs to be discarded.  The same is true of some of my ideas and possible turns of phrase.  They don’t seem to work any more and I’m going to throw them out of the mix.  It’s okay with words (positively beneficial in fact) but not so cool with the wasted fruit.  I should have started making the chutney earlier in the week.  Not sure about the writing – a deadline clears my mind

2.    Chopping the fruit. Wow.  The second you start to cut, to carve, to split open… everything starts to change.  New possibilities open up.  Colours change.  Hard cold stones are pulled out.  The juice remains.  Oh you get the idea and I’m overdoing it I know :-) It’s the start of the creative act – the truly juicy part

3.    Running out for extra ingredients.  I’m not that domesticated and I’m not that well organised.  I often (always?) have to run to the shop for the things I realise I don’t have.  This time it’s cinnamon sticks.  Maybe my writing is like this too – I have an idea of things I want to include but sometimes I have to switch off the hob, down tools and go looking for what I need: a link, a picture, a reference, a quotation.  Luckily the internet’s just as handy as my local grocery store

4.    Working in the ingredients. I loved the mixture of ingredients that I worked into the chutney – the sweetness of the sugar, the sour tang of the wine vinegar, the soft pulpy fruit, the rough bark of the cinnamon stick.  I’m not sure I managed to work such variety into my article but part of the fun, the enjoyment, the creativity of writing comes when you mix things up a bit, stir things around, test what you’re making and work out what’s missing.  (Okay I couldn’t do this with the chutney as it would’ve burnt my tongue)

5.    Letting go of the recipe. After twenty minutes (the time in the recipe) the simmering chutney mix still looked like simmering chutney mix – not like chutney.  Time to throw out the instructions, stir and simmer some more, trust my instincts as to when it’s ready.  And how do you know when it’s ready? I don’t know, I get a feeling, a sensation, a tingling feeling that tells me that now: it’s done

6.    Allowing the time it takes.  The cooking took a lot longer than I thought.  So did the blog post – not the writing, that was quick, but the checking, the editing, the formatting, the adding of links, the previewing, the printing, the making sure it’s good enough for a site that’s not your own.  It takes longer than you think – but you need to take the time that it takes

7.    Getting the jar ready. I liked the preparation of the jar as well as the chutney – something to pour your work into at the end.  My chutney fitted the jar perfectly and I sealed it shut with satisfaction.  This bit definitely made me thing about blogging: the challenge of fitting your words into the container of the blog and then sealing the lid and hitting ‘send’.

8.    Enjoying the result. The jar of chutney has been sitting in pride of place of my dining room table.  Unopened.  I’m leaving it to settle before I see how it turned out.  Unlike the blog post which gets to sit in the store front at Joyful Jubilant Learning – it gets opened straight away and you get instant feedback on your results – people who read your work, respond to it, give you new ideas, open up new possibilities.

It’s why I prefer writing to making plum chutney.

You can check out the finished product (the writing not the chutney!) at Joyful Jubilant Learning.  My piece is on realising the power of our words.

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Categories : Snippets

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Terinea WeblogNo Gravatar September 10, 2007

Excellent comparison Joanna.

Joanna YoungNo Gravatar September 10, 2007

Thanks Jamie

I was wondering if I’d overdone it… (hmm, yes, the chutney too)


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