And I often buy ingredients I'm wholly unfamiliar with, just to see what happens. I love the feeling of circling a bag of live crab in my kitchen, thinking, "Now I got you home. What am I gonna do with you?"
The other night, I was cooking something or another, and I had a minor insight. I hadn't even considered cracking a cookbook. It wasn't that I had mastered the recipe. I actually wasn't using a recipe. I was just ... cooking. I knew what I had on hand, and I had a pretty good idea where I wanted to end up. I was looking for a lemon sage sherry cream sauce over pork with caramelized onions. Or something like that.
I'm not saying I'm the world's best cook. I'm not even the best cook in my family. My sister and my aunt, for instance, could roll me up and smoke me any day of the week. And any professional chef is operating in a totally different league.
Last night, I was thinking more about this rewrite I'm working on. With writing, I'm big on process, on cookbooks and outlines. But lately, I've noticed I'm using them less and less. I still do my detailed outlines, and I still fill notebooks with world notes and plot tricks. But when I'm actually writing, I find myself only rarely turning to my own notes.
"You know your world well enough," my wife said, as we were walking and talking about it. "Why don't you just trust your characters once they're inside it? Let them make decisions. Trust them."
It's like cooking without a recipe.