Novel Failings of a Non-Baking Mom

Middle was asked to go to a friend’s house.  He excitedly relayed a fond memory from sleep-overs past at this particular home.  Namely that the mom makes dessert.

This triggered a memory for me: one in which Eldest told my sister (after he spent the night there baking dozens of cookies) that his mom (ie, me) didn’t know how to make cookies, only buy them.

For the record, I do know how to bake and can whip up a mean pumpkin pie–homemade crust and all.  I also only ever buy Oreos for my kids,  even though Eldest made it sound like our pantry is filled with boxes and bags and containers of these sugar-filled treats.

Early on in our marriage, Dear Hubby and I simply ate our meals sans dessert.  It was a habit we haven’t broken.  Neither of us are huge cookie fans, so batches of them mold well before they are consumed.  Ditto for cake.

In fact, we don’t even make cake for birthdays anymore because nobody in our house really eats them.

I’m a bad mom.  A failed mom.  A dessertless mom.

But…but, none of our kids are chubby, they devour zucchini and think that pomegranates are candy.  They are deprived, but not too much, as every once in a while, I will bake as a special treat.  They eat a little of it and we usually throw the rest away.

In other words, while they like desserts, their love for them is more ideological than real.

In my mind, great novels are zucchini and pomegranates.  They are roast beef and baby baked potatoes, chicken breasts and salads.  They are rare desserts on special occasions.

All the way from word choice to plot points and characterization, stable and steady is the key.  Solid, filling, healthy.  Then when we use an adverb, it really packs a punch.

Desserts–love them or hate them–too much is never a good thing.

As a reader, what do you consider the dessert of a novel?  What little things sweeten the books you love?  What makes a novel hard to choke down?

As a writer, what is your stand-by dessert, the one that usually needs cut to lean up your manuscript?

One of my shortcomings is packing too much into a tiny space.  Because I write about heavy issues, I have to be very careful not to make my novels issue heavy.

10 responses to “Novel Failings of a Non-Baking Mom

  1. I love characters who have emotional connections – not just lovey ones either. As for cutting, I think I’m a pretty lean writer when I figure out where I’m going. My first drafts are a bit wordy, but I trim them up rather quickly.

    • Oooh, yes. Emotional connections are paramount in a great book. Great point about how they don’t always have to be the warm fuzzies to be effective. Sometimes the best characters are the ones that share our same flaws.

  2. I love it when there’s just enough of reality in a novel…real science, or a real place, or real history. That kind of thing lends credibility, and reality, to the entire rest of it. That, and sometimes history is so bizarre so as to be confused with fiction, so it can be a nice blend that leaves one questioning…everything.

    • Thanks for pointing that out, Jennifer. A touch of real world goes a long way in grounding the reader. It’s always fun to recognize something in a novel that makes you feel as if you somehow share the experience.

  3. I like being able to “see” the scene – that’s dessert for me. But when there’s too much description it’s like eating really heavy cheesecake – vomit inducing.

    • Love your comparison. Too much description is heavy. Though why is it I could eat an entire cheesecake by myself and I start skipping pages when the descriptions come out? I’m such a hypocrite!

  4. Sorry, slightly off topic (not an answer to the question). I had to laugh though because until my kids started going to school and visiting friends homes they assumed that desserts were green and oily. I guess we’re two peas in a pod on that score. But I do love desserts/treats, just not a lot at once.

    • Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love desserts, too. In fact, all food has a special place in my heart–well, except anchovies and liver.

      Isn’t it sad that we can only fool our kids for so long? Then the real world intervenes and teaches them all sorts of bad things–like whipped cream?

  5. I’m one of those people whose strength is also a weakness. I LOVE introspection, self-questioning. I’m really good at it, if I do say so. And I overindulge. WAY. LOL

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