Wednesday, June 29

Because Even A Messed Up Cake Can Be Fixed

You know that moment in Home Alone when the parents jump out of bed and scream, "We overslept!". That was us Saturday morning, and within about twenty minutes RadioMan was outside setting up tables and chairs and getting the pool ready for bebe's 8th birthday party while I was dragging bebe out of bed (she overslept, too), getting her dressed, and heading out to the party store and the bakery to pick up her cake.

She wanted a 'Frozen' themed cake, complete with ice mountain, and it was beautiful. That's it right over there...oh, you don't see the ice mountain? Well, that's because in her excitement to get the balloons inside (also Frozen), as I was opening my side of the car to get the cake, she opened her side of the car to get the balloons...and...yes, draft happened.

In slow motion, the first balloon slid out her car door and she squealed. I told her to grab the ribbon as the second balloon slid out the window, and she clapped her hands over her mouth. And then, with the cake in one hand, I lunged for the last speck of ribbon which was very insecurely holding to the side of the car door....and my hand and hers collided on the ribbon. The balloons were saved, but Ice Mountain....was not. There was blue and white and green icing smashed to the top of the cake box. The Elsa/Olaf/Anna turney-thing had punctured the plastic of the box top and smooshed down into the cake a bit, too. bebe's eyes welled with tears and she exclaimed, "I ruined it!"

And, while I knew this was a teaching moment about listening and following explicit directions (like coming around to my side of the car instead of opening every door), I also knew this was her birthday party, and really, it was just a cake.

With the help of my mom, we carefully scraped the mashed up icing from the box top and did our best to smooth out the "happy birthday' message on the cake. We rescued the turney-thing from the depths of yellow cake. All that beautiful frosting and yellow cake didn't look like it had looked when we picked it up from the bakery, but the results weren't half bad. We christened the cake Frozen Avalanche because the section of cake where Ice Mountain originally lived kind of looks like an avalanche happened. There are streaks of green where trees might have crashed, and the blue and white icing is all jumbled the way snow looks after it tumbles down a mountain...and there is that wave we couldn't quite fix that should read "Happy Birthday" but instead looks like it got tumbled a little, too.

After we fixed the cake, I realized that is how we need to look at our books. When we send them off to our editors, they are our perfect cakes. The mountain of icing that looks amazing in all that glimmering blue and white and green, but that is actually very fragile. When we get revisions, it can seem as if everything is wrong. Our pristine cake looks like the jumbled mess of icing that I held in my hands while bebe's lower lip wobbled.

The truth is, drafts aren't awful - okay, some spots probably are, but not every single bit - we just have to take our time with the spatula while we're carving out those bad motivational choices and that spotty characterization from the top of the cake box. Because even a messed up cake can be fixed...and if we can fix a cake that is sticky and gooey with icing, we can fix a manuscript no matter how mired in bad motivation or characterization it is.

Over the weekend we celebrated bebe's 8th birthday (I'm not sure how she got to be 8 already, but that is a whole other post) with the family, and a not-quite-right cake.

And it was perfect.

8 comments:

  1. I am SO glad you didn't take advantage of the teaching moment! There are so many of them, but only one 8th birthday. Happy times to all the Knights. I love the post.

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  2. I'm with Liz--so happy you didn't take advantage of the teaching moment on her birthday. Sometimes it's best to take a pass when you see the devastation on their little faces. Great cake/editing analogy! Happy birthday to Bebe! You are a great mom!!

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    1. thanks, Nan! She had a great time - and I agree...birthdays are for celebrating.

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  3. What a great way to take one teaching moment (she'll never forget it, even though you didn't say a word!) and turn it into two new ones: 1) Turn a frown upside down, nothing is ever so bad it can't be improved, and 2) Mommies rock in a crisis!

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    1. aw, thanks, Ava! I agree - we'll always have crazy giggles over the Avalanche cake...and she'll never forget how the avalanche happened... :)

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  4. LOL My daughter remembers her eighth birthday because her hair caught on fire when she leaned down to blow out the candles. It was just a strand and she was alright, but the stench. Eww-boy

    Great analogy and lessons all around.

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    1. gah - that would have freaked bebe out, too!

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