Monday, 4 January 2010

Here's to a Happy 2010 and Scraping off the Sauce

Happy New Year, one and all! Hope Christmas was everything you wished it to be. Was mine? Let's see:
1) Ate too much - tick.
2) Drank too much - tick.
3) Built snowmen - tick.
Yep, not bad, I have to say - apart from the usual seasonal traumas. Firstly, our boiler broke down, during the freeze. Several guests decamped to the nearest hotel whilst I braved it out, regaling my kids with stories of how people never used to have central heating, anyway. Secondly, I almost slipped a disc boxing my husband and son via the new Wii. Thirdly, my daughter and I nearly came to blows when she refused (the cheek of it) to let me hang her New Moon calendar (me? Robsessed? Never!) in my kitchen. Oh, and yes, there was another minor trauma. Anyone remember Wendy Craig in the series Butterflies, and her dreadful cooking?

For dessert, on Christmas Day evening, I got out some cold jam sponge from lunch time. I don’t like traditional Christmas pud, so always serve an alternative as well, with hot custard. After sandwiches for tea, my husband, dad and I all fancied a slice with cold custard, so I divided what was left into three bowls, grabbed the jug of cold sauce and poured it over the top. For a few seconds, I admired the pretty rose-red splodges, circled by pools of buttercup yellow.

I took in two bowls for my husband and dad. Ever the gentleman (and as this story proves, this has its advantages), my dad waited for me to return to the room and collapse on the sofa with my share. Meanwhile, my husband had been tucking in. Dad and I smiled at each other and were about to join him when my dear spouse looked up and pulled a face.

‘Sam,’ he said, ‘did you put hollandaise sauce on this jam pudding?’

Oh dear. The remnants of various sauces from lunch had been close to one another in the fridge and I’d just grabbed the nearest. Cue much shoulder shaking and tears running down cheeks. My husband, bless him, scraped off the sauce, poured on the proper custard and finished his pud. Yuk! Dad, instead, asked for some cold Christmas pud from the fridge. Yet this was no better, it had set hard, and chuckling once more, he announced he couldn’t eat that either – I had to take it back to the kitchen and cut it up with a knife and fork.

So, how does all this relate to writing? Imagine the draft you are submitting is the yummy jam sponge. In essence, it’s all right – the characters, the plot, the basic themes... It’s the other stuff, your style or voice, your editing, the darlings you should have murdered, all of that, the equivalent of a lumpy or bland – or downright nasty! - sauce, that is letting you down.

So what to do? Bin the lot and start something else? As my dad and the rock-hard Christmas pud prove, this is not guaranteed to bring you any more success. Rather, like my husband, you should scrape off the sauce, and try to make it more palatable, more likely to whet an agent's appetite, with something else – be that a little more editing or a major rewrite.

And that’s what I’ll be doing this January, with my present book. I like to think my custard is almost there – maybe not deep enough in colour or sweet enough yet to taste. So, I’ll be scraping it off and blending it to some new recipe, before pouring it on once more.

15 comments:

Rachel said...

This reminds me of that episode of Friends where Rachel makes a trifle with minced beef....

Julie P said...

Waste not want not!;0)

Julie xx

Roderic Vincent said...

Happy New Year! That's a fine tale of how Christmas looked in your house, Sam - sounds fun. Good luck with the writing in 2010.

Samantha Tonge said...

My dad once went to a dinner party where choc custard was poured all over the roast dinners:)

Thanks, Rod.

Fionnuala Kearney said...

Its great to be back online! Happy New Year to everyone! Please tell me the hollandasie was shop bought Sam? I tried to make some on xmas morning and it brought curdling butter to new heights...

Geraldine Ryan said...

Happy New Year, everyone! Your post made me laugh, Sam, but I am still trying to work out what that picture is of. At first I thought it was a severed limb, covered in blood. I still do, actually, but if so then I don't see the connection.

Samantha Tonge said...

LOL, Geri - it's jam, the nearest photo i could get to jam pudding:)

Fi, it was a shop bought powder i had to mix up with butter and milk. And, if i do say so myself, nice and smooth - just not good with jam:)

Jenzarina said...

Mmmmm, I am now craving jam sponge and custard, which is not great for the New Year diet!
Funny post, thank you.

Olivia Ryan said...

This did make me laugh, Sam! And the photo - severed limb? Jam? Well, to me (a veggie) it looked like a leg of lamb covered in redcurrant sauce. Hmm. I had a similarly frustrating episode, a few days after Christmas - when I opened the fridge door, a can of beer fell out, knocking my nice glass dish containing my daughter's home-made cranberry sauce, flying. I'd never have believed how far glass splinters and cranberry sauce mess can travel. The kitchen looked like there'd been a massace, and clearing it up took hours! I love cranberries but have gone off cranberry sauce somewhat now! Happy New year. x

CarolineG said...

Hee hee, what a lovely first post of the year! Although I too am now craving jam sponge and custard, damn you.

Samantha Tonge said...

Sorry to create all the cravings!

Oh, Olivia, what a nightmare for you!

Gillian McDade said...

Happy new year everyone! As a vegetarian I was horrified by the bloody pic (?) But on second viewing.....!
Here's to a successful 2010!

Poppy said...

Great post, Sam! Awful picture, though (did anyone else the Lynda la Plante this evening . . . )

xx

(ooh - word verification is 'grate'. How apt for SW!!)

Poppy said...

did anyone else *see* the Lynda la Plante this evening . . .

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Lovely post, Sam. Hope your sauce-scraping goes really well and reveals a gem!
Susiex