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Monday, March 24, 2014

I Hate Salads (or, Resistance ain't Fertile) - March Madness Check-In, Day 24 #WIPmadness

Happy Monday, Mad Marchers! Still hanging in there? I am ... but I'll admit it hasn't been easy. I've hit a few bumps in the road to outlining this new novel, but I think I'm back on track now. How about you?

Today I wanted to talk about something near and dear to me: food.

The past few years for me, it hasn't been super fun, because I was gluten intolerant. Spoiler: it went away a few months ago. Great for my sanity, not so much for my waistline. Sometimes, these things happen, which is awesome, but don't ask me to explain the whys behind it all. I'm not a doctor. But let me say one thing: trying to eat out when one has dietary restrictions can be very frustrating. Even more frustrating was the question I was asked, almost without fail:

"Can't you just have a salad?"

Within weeks I was ready to bite the head off of anyone who dared suggest such a thing. Maintaining my calm, my nostrils would flare, my expression would flatten and I would growl, in a voice two octaves lower than usual,


(Forget that I sacrificed five years of my teens and very early twenties to a certain fast food chain and was even in charge of *making* the salads on some mornings, so I know how much is just bland iceberg lettuce with some flavourful toppings and a pack of salty-sugary-fatty dressing for extra disguise. So I wasn't exactly a cheerleader for the things. But I digress.)

After awhile, people stopped asking. And I went on my merry way, trying to figure out creative adaptations of fast food and restaurant menus without resorting to gluten, which at the time was giving me trouble.

But one thing I did start to like was spinach. That was healthy and I could take it in my lunch without dressing. And then after that, in 2012, I was in Vegas as a bridesmaid for my best friend's wedding, and we went out for dinner and the menu's pickings were slim, but they did have this really nice ... you guessed it ... salad. Except that it was "chicken, mandarins, walnuts and raspberries on a bed of spinach". No lettuce to speak of. And that got me to thinking, wait a minute. I could totally try it if there was spinach involved. Spinach, at least, was reasonably healthy.

So I tried it. And it was delicious.

And when I got home, I started re-thinking what the word "salad" meant to me. Yes, it was still something I'd only be interested in when the days are warm, but trying out *my* variation, using ingredients that *I* liked, changed everything.

And suddenly I was enjoying salads.

So, what does this have to do with writing?

More than you'd think. Because one thing I've learned about myself is that the things I resist the hardest are the things I should give some consideration. Especially when it applies to critical feedback and my work.

I've told the story before about how when I wrote the novel I'm currently shopping around, I used first person present tense, and thought that because that's how the novel first came to me that I should keep it that way. It's a great example. So many people tried to tell me to change the tense to past, but I was so stuck on the idea that this was how my main character had spoken to me, had told the story, that I refused to listen to reason.

Luckily I have an awesome CP who found a way to get through to me and make me re-think this resistance that was really holding me back. As a result, I was able to discover my voice and make the story, IMHO, sing.

Have you ever had such an experience? Where you keep saying "no" to an idea or change, or perhaps a manuscript revision, only to realize that, "Wow, that's so much better!"? It's happened to me more than once. (I'll save the story about why I had to cut the man-eating lizards chapter for another day.) Each time, I resist. But each time, after some grumbling, I notice an improvement.

Even if it's just in my lunch.

* * *

So, how are you faring with your goals, Mad Wipsters?

Newcomers: Don't know about March Madness for Writers? I know it's fairly late in the game, but if this is the first you've heard of this crazyfun approach to achieving goals, it's still not too late to get a full week's worth of work in! Just sign up here. We've got a great community that hangs out at #WIPmadness year-round, and we always have room for more. Check us out!

And of course, don't forget to check out Shari's blog tomorrow!

p.s. The recipe, as such:
- Baby spinach base
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup grated cheddar
- frozen raspberries
- frozen strawberries
- mandarin wedges (from a Dole jar)
- Dressing: 2 tbsp FINI Modena Basalmic Reduction, mixed well with the juice of the thawed/jarred fruit on top  


  1. Yes, yes, constructive criticism that's on target - I hate that! Nah, actually a wise editor has saved me more than once when I've been too attached to the work to see the flaws. Thanks for the encouragement. I'm on track to reach my goal by the end of the month! Hang in there, fellow Wipsters! (P.S. LOVE your spinach salad!)

    1. You're welcome, Trudi! Keep at it!

      And I think I'll post the recipe. It's a meal in itself, for sure.

  2. I went MIA for a few days of March Madness to celebrate finishing my revision, but I am back and ready to work on my synopsis and query :)

    I actually just went through a letting-go moment with an old WIP that I'd picked up again to skim. It's one I love (and that I thought about a lot even while working on my new WIP), but after a year away from it, I can definitely see the places it falls short. I'm planning to do some rewrites on it soon and I'm excited to see how it'll turn out.

    1. Yay on finishing! Congrats!

      And oooh, I feel your pain. May you be able to figure out what it needs and make something awesome of it!

  3. I used to love salads. I used to buy 'em all the time from the salad bar when I worked at Kroger. I kind of have to avoid them most times now with the Crohn's. I still eat one from time to time, but it's usually not much more than a few leaves and some random vegetables, mostly peeled. Though I love young greens because they're easiest to digest. Also love growing my own, but they didn't do very well last year.

    And yeah, we all need others to give us critical feedback. I've learned to keep reminding myself to keep a neutral eye toward positive criticism, keeping in mind that it's not personal and might make for a better book taking everything into consideration. Hey, it got While You Were Away sold.

    Far as my goals go, not doing so great. A lot of life things have sort of all hit around this time, my daughter's tonsils (which are coming out tomorrow), my 43rd (ugh...) birthday in 4 more days, work hassles and the ensuing exhaustion, etc. But I am going to try to put a big dent into this next chapter. It's going to be very action oriented.

    1. Sorry to hear that you can't have that, Daniel. I'm glad you've found a few ways around it.

      I remember giving you feedback on WYWA. I'm so glad it helped turn the story into something that got picked up!

      As for your goals ... believe me, I completely understand because I'm sort of in the same boat. You're doing what you can, and that's most important.

  4. I know just what you mean about the diet restrictions and eating out AND about writing. As I predicted, I have been all over the map this month. Today, I am actually revamping a synopsis so I can start shopping the manuscript I had finished when my agent and I parted ways. I'm still feeling vulnerable and insecure about everything, but I've got to push through or I will never get anywhere. So there it is. I'm off to find the wizard and beg him to give me a chance...or a read.

    Write on, Wipsters!

    1. I'm sorry to hear about you and your agent, Mary Ann. Best of luck with your new projects, and finding another agent!

  5. I'm looking forward to getting on track again and getting down to work today.

  6. Hit the revisions fast and furious this morning. Still at it. Trying to make up for Saturday. I had a SCBWI workshop and didn't get much done. Just did a page check. I've got 31 pages to go for this revision pass. So, looking good!

    Love the spinach salad, Laura. I'm a salad kind of gal, so almost all are appealing to me. I ate gluten-free for about three years a while back for health reasons. I'm back on it, but still to this day, I'm careful how much I eat, and make many of my food choices based on it. Interesting how once being gluten-free and a vegetarian have curved my diet even now.

    Write on, Wipsters! :)

    1. Glad to hear you like the spinach salad, Candilynn. When I get home I'm going to edit this post to add the recipe.

      Happy revising!

  7. I love fresh spinach but resisted it for the longest time. Growing up my mother used to boil the can stuff. My sisters and I used to try to give it to the dogs but even they refused to eat it. Vile stuff. It wasn't until I went to BYU and had a roommate that introduced me to raw spinach. I was in love!

    I've also had times when I resisted changing things in my stories. One huge example had to be in Crossed Out. Originally it was told in dual POVs. And I did it in first and third person. It wasn't until more than a few rejections later and some very good advice that I dropped it back down to one POV. Story worked!

    Happy writing Wipsters.

    1. Yeah, spinach is not good canned, unless you saute it in bacon grease and onion. Even then, it's best to do that fresh. But I have an awesome recipe for Kale in the same thing. An old country staple.

    2. ... ugh, you have my sympathies, Kim. I have never tried it canned and I certainly don't regret it.

      That's cool to hear about Crossed Out!

  8. Oh, how I know what you mean! I had a story in my head. Actually, I had the ending in my head. And it was brilliant! So brilliant that I wrote the story around that ending. My beta readers all liked the story, but every one of them said the same thing: "change the ending." I wanted to scream to the sky in an over dramatic, arm-raised fury, "NOOOOOOO!" I was convinced that they just couldn't see my vision of brilliance.
    Long story short, I did what you did. It took some humbling on my part, but I changed the ending. It was much better received and now, as I'm writing the sequel, I'm loving that I made the change because it opened up a whole new world in the second book.
    So yeah, change is good.
    My wip is coming along quite nicely. Words are getting written and I feel like the end is near (both for my wip and the month).
    But now, if you'll excuse me, I must go eat a spinach salad.

    1. It's amazing what we can do when we give our egos the boot. I totally understand, Stacy. The novel I'm currently shopping is about a princess who escaped an attempt on her life as a child, then growing up in safety and not wanting anything to do with the throne. When I first came up with it, I envisioned her helping out her cousin (the next in line) and killing the man who tried to kill her, but then disappearing into the shadows. Then I realized that no, she actually has to own her heritage and take it back, because running away and hiding would be the cowardly thing to do.

      Enjoy the salad!

  9. I admit, I'm a huge salad lover. Especially spinach and ESPECIALLY if I don't have to make it myself. But, yes, perspective and holding out on making's a tough one for diet and for writing. I am now at the place that I'll hold out on a suggestion from one person if I disagree with it, but if a second person even remotely mentions the same thing, I will make a change. Even if it feels like it will kill me.

    I took yesterday off and spent the day away from my computer, which was nice. Back at it today, launching into a new revision (on my favorite book, so I'm excited!) and I also have a bit of exciting business to deal with. More on that soon...

    1. Yes, Denise, I totally love spinach salads done right! I want to make one with chevre and cranberries one day.

      We all need time off, even during the madness. I pretty much slept all weekend. I'm glad to hear you feel recharged now!

    2. Oh, I do like 'exciting business', Denise! You have us curious now. ;)

  10. I hated salads until I discovered baby kale. ^_^ I'm sort of the opposite when it comes to critique though. Sometimes I'm too quick to make changes without first making sure they're really what's best for the story.

    I have less than 60 pages to go to meet my MM goal which means I'm actually 10 pages ahead. Yay! Thanks for all the help, Wipsters!

    1. I can understand that, too, Angelina. For me it happens when I'm in a groove of "I trust this person knows best so I'll do as they recommend." Which can be both good and bad. Remembering to question everything helps.

  11. I'm a big fan of salads. I made one up tonight out of available ingredients -- a carrot salad, with lots of coarsely grated carrots, diced celery, green onions, slivered almonds, crumbled bacon and shaved parmesan cheese. I concocted a dressing to stir in and thoroughly enjoyed it. :) I also like a spinach and strawberries salad. Actually, I don't think there's a salad I don't like. LOL.

    I really appreciate honest feedback. Sometimes I can tell right away that a suggestion is exactly right, but if I'm hesitant, I'll wait to see if others have problems with the same passage. If they do, that usually says I'd better deal with it whether I want to or not!

    I backtracked with my WIP today, cutting more words than I added, so it wasn't a very profitable day word-wise. But I think it put me on a better track. Then I got playing with my new iPhone. That was a big distraction!

    1. Sounds yummy, Carol!

      Cutting more words than you added may seem like a net loss, but think about what you gained! A leaner, cleaner piece!

  12. That salad looks and sounds delicious! The faring on the blogging end is going well, the writing end had to take a bit of a back seat, but this coming weekend I am going in for some marathon writing. The rest of this week is writing for about an hour or so each day. Just trying to get fresh words on the page...anything on the page to get this story a going!

    1. Best of luck with the writing, Deb! I already know my weekend's going to be a challenge. Trying to figure out how and when I can fit in some writing / check-in time around the convention I'll be at. We shall see. :)

    2. Awesome post!
      Wow! what a month! I finished strong today with a total of 3054 wds for the day (first day to break 3k!) and I have a total of 41,976 for the month. I hit my goal of getting between 30-50k words, so I am really happy!

      Thanks to everyone, from the bloggers to the comments--every little bit helped!
      As today is my birthday, I am signing off and heading out for sushi! I hope to see you all again soon.
      Twitter: @writingkat63

    3. Kathleen, hope you had a happy one! Mine was the 28th. Looks like you did pretty awesome on your goal. Keep it up and charging forward! :D