The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Trader Joe's Teaches Writing (and Life)

          My life was fine ten or fifteen years ago. On my rare trips to Berkeley, California, I'd get my Trader Joe's fix. I'd load my suitcase up, and pine away for the next year or two (since I gobbled down my goodies in a matter of minutes) until my next trip to Berkeley. But then, they built two Trader Joe's in St. Louis... and now, the temptation is just a thirty minute drive away...

           Since for me, it's all about the food, 'bout the food, 'bout the food--no lyin'... I figured I'd weave a little bit about writing into this fanfare about a few edible things.  



Less is more.






                    These mints are divine. And although if you eat a whole bag on the way home a few, they're still not good for you, but they're not as bad as some other candies... 'cause they're made from only three ingredients: mint, honey and chocolate liquer.

                And sometimes less is more when it comes to our writing. Does the reader really need to know "My crusty-heeled feet, ending in yellowing thick raptor-like nails, sank into the dark salmon-colored carpeting--with miniscule flecks of moss-green and glints of gold--which was quite comfortable, with a sumptuous pad underneath"? Sometimes we don't mean to, but we nonetheless occasionally overload our readers' senses with way too many details... details our readers often don't care about. 

               Keeping it simple works most of the time. Say it the way you mean it. Don't spend a bunch of words prettying it up. Pure things are way more valuable than imitations or wannabes.


Do it when you can.

              Sadly, Trader Joe's discontinued one of my favorite treats: milk chocolate cocoa almonds. They still carry the dark chocolate ones, but the other ones were the bomb.



                    If you're in a store like Trader Joe's (or their cousin, Aldi's) and you see a product you like, you'd better buy it... because it might be gone for good the next time you're cruising down the aisles.

               We should write when we can. If we have 15 minutes before we have to head to work... couldn't we spend that time writing? Shouldn't we? And shouldn't I practice what I'm pretending to preach. (Of course I should.)


Know what you're made of.


                   
               This nectar-from-the-gods comes from just one thing: honey crisp apples. It doesn't pretend to be a juice "cocktail" or a blend. It's plain ol' juice from honey crisp apples. It's simple and unpretentious.

                What are we? If we say we're a writer, we shouldn't spend all our time creating excuses about why we don't have time to write. If we say we're working on a novel, dadgummit, we should be doing serious work on our manuscript. 

                Writers write. It's as simple as that.

  
What tidbit about writing (or life) can you connect to a food item? Carb-loving minds want to know...

                








30 comments:

  1. You are so right about less is more...but it is so hard to want less. Writing...it is a fine line between strong, picturing making details and too much filling in wordiness. Just the right dash adds so much though!

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    1. Claudia--The nice thing about writing: it's possible to take some out. However, when I'm cooking, if I trip and dump too much hot sauce it, it's tough to fix.

      You are so right. It's a fine line...

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  2. I believe in addition by subtraction.

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    1. Joeh-It was one of the Donalds (Murray? Graves?) who said that writing is as much construction and deconstruction. Yeah, sometimes (lots of times) taking away adds so much...

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  3. Less is more, except for haiku. Then, less is way too much.

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    1. Shay--Really? I heard a rumor you were coming out with a three-volume haiku collection...

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  4. I believe in subtraction by addition. The more description I put in, the fewer readers I have. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, while I'm flying under the radar for one more year and a fourth, plus one week.

    Those who prefer the concrete slab are welcome to lounge upon it, while I shall hold court with the comfort-seekers on the dark salmon-colored carpeting--with miniscule flecks of moss-green and glints of gold--with a sumptuous pad underneath.

    A leopard cannot change his orange-centered ebony rosettes sprinkled randomly upon his sleek silky coat of burnished gold. With tawny underbelly.

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    1. Val--"With Tawny Underbelly" would make a great title for some kind of book...

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  5. Yes, Trader Joe's is devine! There is one opening soon about five minutes from where I live. Thanks for sharing your favorites! Thank you also for the reminder about simplicity and perseverance in writing. I love how I feel when I have written something, even if it is simple and goofy. I need to work on priorities. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

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  6. The nearest Trader Joe's is 250 miles away, so I usually get my brother to send me the green tea mints that I crave.

    Less is more. I always had a difficult time when I had to write a ten page paper and only had six pages of something (I thought) was worth saying. Maybe I do better now because no one is telling me what something should be or how it should be said. Free at last!

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    1. Jono--I agree. When I was given a "minimum," I sometimes felt like I was padding it, just to add to the word count.

      And thanks. I've seen those green tea mints, but haven't tried them. Will they be another monkey on my back, thanks to you?

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  7. Give yourself a little time to let your writing sit, whether it's a short essay or the 800-page manuscript you just completed. When you come back to it, take a whiff. If your writing stinks like three-day-old fish, you've got some work to do before sending it out.

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    1. Cathy--Three-day-old fish. I love it. Not the smell, of course, but the simile.

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  9. The more wine I drink the better my writing looks when I go back to edit. Oh, wait. You didn't mean . . . :)

    Just as different wines pair best with specific meals, so do different voices pair best with specific markets. For instance, if I'm writing an inspirational romance, I will certainly not use the same voice as might be employed with erotica. Writing for kids? Better ditch the Barefoot Sweet Red in favor of Welch's Sparkling Grape Juice. Writing for Woman's Day or Men's Health? Could be the difference between White Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon. Know your meal before you buy the wine . . . that is, know your market before you choose your voice.

    P.S. Leaving a comment for you is an act of love, Sioux. Blogger hates me. It does mean things every time I try to post. I’m finding various ways to trick it, but it is exhausting. I think I need a glass of wine now to relax my frayed nerves. :)

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    1. Lisa--Thanks for working so hard to trick Blogger.

      I think you have the makings for an article for a writing magazine. That second paragraph is inspiring AND inspired. And I'm saying that without the influence of any wine...

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  10. Trader Joe's. Just discovered that place, and what a revelation!

    Now I just need to make more money...

    Pearl

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    1. Pearl--But don't do what I do. Don't overindulge in Trader Joe's stuff, because then you outgrow your clothes and REALLY need to make more money so you can continue to feed your addiction AND so you can buy larger-sized clothes...

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  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you! NOW I know why I can't seem to write anymore. It's all the food allergies I've developed in old age! I can't eat my nuts, or chocolate, or even drink my fave tea while thinking creative thoughts. Licorice is out. I'm not supposed to have salt - or sugar. I don't like the splinters in my teeth from twigs and bark, so I can't possibly write. I was berating myself for being lazy and undisciplined! Now I know better, and am so relieved.

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    1. Marcia--No chocolate? I think I would die...

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  12. Replies
    1. Mama Zen--You can say that, you who can say so much in less than 50 words...

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  13. It's often a guilty pleasure when you have other obligations looming everywhere, but we all need that from time to time. Oh how I wish they'd build a Trader Joe's closer to me!

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    1. Tammy--Sometimes I wish there was NOT a Trader Joe's here. The temptation is too close.

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  14. Sometimes a nibble leaves the reader wanting more, whereas oversaturating with details is a thrill kill.

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    1. Linda--I think you and Lisa are onto something. I think you both have the makings for an article on writing. Your one sentence could easily be the basis of an inspiring piece...

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  15. Lordy, this post is making me wish I'd bought a candy bar or ice cream cone or something. Sweets are such an addiction for me I lost track of your question.

    Pat
    Critter Alley

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