The Illusion of Salt-Seasoning a WIP

I remember as a wee child, sitting at the dinner table in the old kitchen of our family home in Paddington, Sydney. My food would arrive in front of me and each night I recall burning my mouth on one thing or another, too impatient to let my food cool before I ate. Every night, I would watch, mesmerised, as the adults took turns with the salt shaker. After sprinkling the mystical contents over their food, they would eat. I would sit and ask for someone to pass the salt – not wanting to miss out on this family ritual. I would ask…and ask…and ask until finally someone would pass me the salt shaker. By the time I sprinkled my food, my food had cooled off and so, for the next few hundred meals or so, I concluded that salt cooled your food. It took a long time for the truth to reveal itself. My mother questioned why I wanted salt on my steaming hot pudding one night.

“Because it’s too hot, and salt cools your food,” I replied, thinking the woman was barking mad not to realise this. I went on to explain to her the obvious – that salt cooled your food down. I was shattered when I realised after experimentation that my deduction was wrong. My belief had been shot down in flames.

As a writer, for the longest time I believed I needed a muse in order to fill the page with wonderful words. I had spent years sitting before an empty page waiting for this mystical presence to spice up my mind and bring huge shakers of inspiration to my table. And on the odd occasion when this belief held true, I remember feasting on the sensation.  I believed it was all about waiting for that divine moment when the gates of creativity would break open and drown me in fabulous words. I never really considered that you could just sit down and write – without a morsel of muse being present.

I came to the writing table of life believing this was how it all worked. It wasn’t until I started looking to others that the truth was revealed. This belief I had about my divine muse was as fictional and irrational as salt cooling my food. It was an unsavoury belief I had carried around for too long. Learning from other writers, I now see that writing has no quick fixes. It’s not about waiting for the muse to turn up to carry you off into word-land.  I now know it’s much more about  perspiration than inspiration. Doing the hard yards and hard work in order to savour the fruits of your labour.

The act of sitting and simply beginning without any form of a muse is enough. Sometimes she joins me, sometimes not. And I’m happy now to venture along without her, bland and unseasoned because I know that eventually she turns up to the page and joins in, adding the spice and flavour to what sometimes begins as boring and bland. These days, for the sake of my health,  I’ve given up salt and the for the sake of my writing health, I’ve given up waiting for inspiration to strike.  The important thing for me now is to start. Consistently. Every day. You can’t season what doesn’t exist.


14 thoughts on “The Illusion of Salt-Seasoning a WIP

  1. That is so true, Lynn! I really like this blog post – these are the things I need to make sure my brain understands: it thinks it does, but when the crunch time is here I’m still sitting in front of my computer/notebook, grumbling about my lack of inspiration and staring at blankness. I just need to knuckle down, get in there and write. It really is as easy as that (though the end process is harder than any of us can imagine, to write consistently. It sounds an easy task, but it is painful, that’s for sure.)

    • Thanks so much and I agree with you, Amber – the consistency part is SO hard but when you nail it – it is life giving. It is so difficult to juggle real life as well as a fictional one but so worth it when we can manage it.

    • Thank you, Carol. It sounds so easy, doesn’t it. I think we are own worst enemies when it comes to getting our heads down. But it feels so good when we do it!

    • Karen, I know what you mean. I get cranky if I go too long without writing or working on my novel. It’s like we have this fabulous potion on tap – when we choose. It’s the best addiction of all.

  2. What a great post! I think this is a realisation all serious writers come to at some point, and is what differentiates them from writing hobbyists. So beautifully worded, as always Lynn. This blog just exudes your personality – with sprinklings of irony, up front truths and humour.

    Love it. Especially that final sentence.

    • Thanks, Kath. This writing thing is addictive, isn’t it and also sometimes torturous in a good way. Hope you are settling and back in the swing of things down there. Nice to see your lovely presence back on line 🙂

  3. I really enjoyed this Lynn.

    You know I think every writer has a pudding story to tell…mine is about accidentally serving asparagus sauce with your Christmas Pudding..,but that’s for another time:-)

    What you say is so true. There is no cure for writer’s block like writing:-)


    • Dee…that’s hilarious. What did they say? I’m dying to know – that is so worth a blog post – a special request from me- the salt eater. Asparagus and rum infused mixed fruit and sponge…hmmmmm

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