This morning I’m meeting my granddaughter, Brett, for breakfast. She finished her freshman year of college, got home last night, and has two days before she leaves for her summer job at a resort on Orcas Island. We’re meeting at Lil’ John’s, where, if I’m lucky, I will have a perfect cinnamon roll.
I am a cinnamon roll connoisseur. Carl was, too. We’ve ordered cinnamon rolls at restaurants all across the country and Lil’ John’s are usually the best. They are big, soft, more like bread than pastry, with just the right amount of vanilla frosting. I use the qualifier, usually, because once in a while, perhaps one percent of the time, I’ll get one that isn’t soft. The edges are crusty, as if it has been sitting around since the day before. Five star cinnamon rolls must be fresh.
Baking a great cinnamon roll is a lot like writing a great book. Theoretically, anyone should be able to do it. A baker takes readily available ingredients – flour, sugar, yeast, cinnamon – and mixes them together to make cinnamon rolls. Yet those same ingredients come out in a wide variety of ways, depending on who is combining them. Much depends on how the dough is kneaded, how it rises, the temperature of the oven and how quickly the roll is served.
Writers take words – a Dictionary full, available to anyone – and combine them to tell a story. If the person who’s mixing a batch of words does it skillfully and with great care, the end result will be worth reading. Just as a batch of dough needs time to rise, a manuscript needs time for revisions. You can’t just stir the words together and call the book finished. It must be created with care.
Today’s breakfast will be a joy no matter what I eat because I’m meeting Brett. And when I get back home, I’ll measure another cup of words, sift a simile, and stir a fresh idea or two into my current manuscript.