After making Chex Mix (R) every year since cereal was invented, today I burnt my first batch. Last night I’d left the ingredients out so I could make it first thing in the morning while I did an extended morning workout between the scheduled stir times. Only, before the hour time of baking was up, I noticed that distinct burnt smell filling my kitchen. The only thing I can think of was that because it was early morning, and I didn’t want to turn on the bright overhead lights but used a small side light, this may have meant I pressed in the wrong oven temperature. I also may not have stirred as often as in past times because, well, I was multitasking, after all.
So here was my burnt batch of Christmas treats–with a full extra can of cashews added to the mix!
On went the overhead light to see how much, if any, I could salvage. I put a plate on one side for the burnt pieces and a bowl on the other for the non-burnt pieces. I picked out the obvious ones, and dusted the burnt crumbs off of some bits. I taste-tested many of the sad-looking, dried-out nuts to see if others with those same hues and shrivels should go to the good pile or bad. I’d made a double batch, and it was taking me forever to pick out each individual piece. Plus, my stomach wasn’t feeling too hot from eating all those burnt nuts for breakfast.
All this got me thinking about writing (of course). Or in this case, revisions v.s. rewriting. With any novel I finish and set aside for a time, I always find things which need some serious work. There are pieces which can be fixed with revisions. With other novels I feel need for a total rewrite. And still others were obviously merely for keyboard typing practice.
You, the author of your finished work, are in charge of your words. Should you go over your novel and hand-pick word-by-word, line-by-line to make it good? Or should you toss the entire batch, I mean, manuscript, and start from scratch with a rewrite? Whichever way you choose, choose, but please don’t serve burnt nuts. (I also don’t recommend eating them.) After all, what is your end goal? Isn’t it to provide good taste for your readers (or relatives’ tummies)? Never, ever be satisfied with burnt.
Happy reading, writing,…and eating.