05 May 2010

What's your Cheesecake?

In my family, when we have a party - and we have a fair few, between birthdays, graduations, showers, holidays, and the odd Pig Roast - it's a pot-luck affair. Everyone in my family has something that they are asked to bring to every gathering, because it's what they do best. My aunt's potato salad. My step-mother's coleslaw. My brother-in-law's ribs. A veritable feast of deliciousness (leading to the expansion of waistlines).

For me, it's cheesecake. I am always asked to make a cheesecake, because supposedly it's one of the best ever tasted. I've had good and bad ones, but usually the best are when I use five blocks of real cream cheese and a tub of sour cream. I have a stand mixer that I use to pulverize the cream cheese, making sure it's smooth before I add the rest of the ingredients. Baking it without it cracking has become an art form. I've taken a good thing and learned how to make it better, and people ALWAYS ask for it.

It's a lot like writing.

By that I mean that every writer has their own strength. For me it's YA fantasy. I've tried writing picture books, short stories, and realistic tween and YA books, really I have. They all fall flat as a bad souffle. I just don't get it and can't seem to wrap my head around how to write it . Kind of like my aunt's potato salad--I can get close, but there's always something missing. But I have become a master of cheesecake. Relatively speaking. There's always something new to learn about writing. And cheesecake. (can you tell I like cheesecake?)

Does that mean I stop trying to make new dishes or write outside of my comfort zone? Of course not. Like cooking, I can try out new recipes and see what happens. No one has to eat the burnt sweet potato pie or read the terrible poetry I try to put down. I'll always learn something. But YA and tween fantasy is like my cheesecake: I've been making it for years, so now I play around with it and feel confident in the results.

What's your cheesecake?

Christine Norris
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