Image credit: Homemade Pie art print by Jenna Park of Sweet Fine Day
I belong to a garden club. We meet, we share stories and plants, and we try to make our town a better place. A few years ago, wanting to dovetail into a greater town plan to revitalize our gorgeous, unique, and underused riverfront, we starting making pies.
Pies for the riverfront! Hurrah!
In late summer, we get invited to local orchards, farms, and family garden plots to pick and collect berries and apples and rhubarb. Once every strawberry has been hulled and every freezer in the neighbourhood has been filled, we sit on our recipe cards until the snow flies. When it’s good and icy out, and the ski trails are too cold to be groomed, we gather our aprons and make our ways to a church basement to roll pastry and stir fillings.
Six people, a commercial kitchen, bags of flour and sugar and sticks of butter, frozen-in-their-prime-and-thawed-on-the-counter-last-night fruit, measuring spoons and cups and the biggest bowls around, and we’re ready to make pies. We can churn out sixty pies per afternoon this way: something we could never do without the collaboration of the group. And when we need a break. . . there’s pie!
Okay, now how does pie-making relate to writing?
Hint: it’s a metaphor.
Both pie-making and writing can look scary, if you don’t have a plan and some sort of idea of what the end result could be. My best case writing scenario can be as focused and messy as a garden club pie party. And as fun, too. When I write, I want to have a topic, a goal, and an audience in mind. And usually, a friend to bounce ideas off of. At the pie party, it’s the same. The topic: pie-making for good (not evil). (No. wait. Could pie-making ever be evil?) The goal: to make several pies and have them ready to sell just before Valentine’s Day. To laugh. To create together. And the audience: people who like to eat pie, and present it to their loved ones, but don’t like to make it. Every year we sell out, and people wait in line for next year’s. It’s a good system, and together, we make it work.
Next time you’re ready to write, try asking this. Do you know your topic? . . . your goal? . . . your audience? Do you need to collect material a little longer, or is your bounty in the freezer, waiting for the right day to thaw and mix? Would it all be much easier if you had some friends to help? Are you feeding your audience what they want and at the right time? Did you taste a slice of what you’ve whipped up?
Or really, just try the pie already.