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Why stories are like food

December 27, 2005
Posted at 9:31 am
Updated: February 3, 2006 - 11:13 pm

When you (meaning me) write a story you start with your own biases, and the things that excite your own imagination. I think the average writer, whether he's a good one and nationally known, or somebody who just wants to be able to say "Look at that! I got a story on the internet!", writes what HE or SHE wants to read. That is, after all, why there is such diversity in the printed word. We're all different in a lot of ways.

So, it's natural that my stories are similar in the sense that I like a certain set of things, so that's what I write about.

Think of it a little like food. Most of us have favorite dishes. We don't eat them every single meal, but we go back to them time and again. And, if you look at your routine diet, chances are that you eat the same general set of foods, maybe rotating them around so you don't get bored, but, all in all, a definable group of edibles.

And then along comes a friend or acquaintance, who suggests you try something new. You aren't sure about it, because you might not like it. And ... you already have YOUR group of foods identified.

But you try it, or even better, a friend tries something YOU like, and, if things work out, there are smiles all around.

So, taking the analogy a little further, let's say you like cheese (I've been accused of writing cheesey stories once in a while ). As far as you're concerned, cutting off a nice slab of Cheddar, or Gouda or whatever and munching away at it is just great. And, you have some friends who come around now and then and you cut them slabs too. And there are smiles all around, while you watch something on the tube or play cards or whatever.

And then somebody says "You know, if you melt that cheese and put it on some chips ... that's really good too. And there are smiles all around.

And from there you start cooking with cheese and end up creating what your guests call a delicacy. And there are BIG smiles all around. It's was a lot more work to cook with cheese than it was to just cut off a slab. But those smiles were REALLY big.

It turns out writing is like that. I started with what I liked ... short, hot stories. String cheese, if you will. And along came a reader who said "You know, if you did 'this' it might be really nice".

And there were smiles. Not necessarily all around, because some people don't care for cheese. You know what I mean.

But some of the people who liked the short stories REALLY liked the longer more involved stories. And, as the smiles got bigger, it made it worth all the effort it took to create a "delicacy."

Now, lest you think I'm tooting my own horn (which I am to some degree, I guess, but I'm trying to be humble here, OK?) there are still a lot of people out there who just don't care for cheese, so to speak.

But, once in a while, you have a guest show up who says "You know, I don't care for cheese, but I've heard that your cheese dishes are really pretty good, so I've decided to try one."

And you serve them up a portion ... and you hold your breath ... and you watch their face ... and you get all tight inside, because you WANT them to like it ... because YOU like it.

And sometimes they smile.

And all the work and effort and fear and false starts and disappointment because a particular dish didn't look like it was going to turn out well ... it's all worth it in the end, because your guests smiled when it was all done with.

I love food. It's one of the last vices I can partake in. And I love my readers, and the smiles they send me now and then.

As we start a new year I just want to say thanks. Cheese may be the only thing I know how to cook with at the present, but I promise I'll keep trying to come up with new recipies.

I notice your smiles, and I listen to your suggestions, even if I don't always incorporate them into my ... dishes.

Thanks to all.
Cheesey Bob