In the NYTimes this week, there’s a feature on “procrastibaking.” It’s a form of what I call productive procrastination — avoiding work by working on something else. (More in Steal Like An Artist.)
The piece includes lines from Grace Paley’s poem, “The Poet’s Occasional Alternative,” found in the collection Begin Again:
I was going to write a poem
I made a pie instead it took
about the same amount of time
of course the pie was a final
draft a poem would have had some
distance to go days and weeks and
much crumpled paper
Later in the poem: “everybody will like this pie… / many friends / will say why in the world did you / make only one / this does not happen with poems.”
I’m reminded of Beverly Cleary:
I like writing in the morning while baking bread. I used to bake bread while I wrote. I’d mix up the dough and sit down and start to write. After awhile the dough would rise and I’d punch it down and write some more. When the dough rose the second time, I’d put it in the oven and have the yeasty smell of bread as I typed.
I never realized how much baking was about precision (as opposed to cooking, which is more forgiving) until I lived with a baker. Then I found out that the easiest way to become a better baker is to buy a kitchen scale and start measuring ingredients by weight.
Baking is also a wonderfully sensual activity, in direct contrast to so much so-called “knowledge” work — your hands in the dough, little tastes, the smell taking over the whole house. (If you want to make a place smell like home, bake some chocolate chip cookies…)
Photo above courtesy of LaRay’s