Wednesday, June 29
Because Even A Messed Up Cake Can Be Fixed
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.