The other night I made a curry. In the best tradition of curry-making I just chucked everything in that I could find, complete with hard-boiled egg. I always find a hard-boiled egg really adds that certain something to a good curry. That, and peanuts.
I ate it, and it was good. But it was better the next night. It’s always better the next night. Stews, curries, anything that needs to settle and marinade and become complex. Wines, beers, christmas cake, they all improve for being left to mature.
So in response to the (frequent) questions I’m asked on how to write, I’d say leave it overnight. Never, ever dash something off and then hand it over. If you leave it, preferably printed, on your desk, and come back to it the next day, I guarantee you will see ways in which to improve it. You might spot howlers (I’ve worked for a multimedia hardware company that once produced thousands of flyers with ‘mutlimedia’ in the title – before my time there I should add). You might spot some grammatical errors. But more likely than not, you’ll come to it with a fresh mind and, almost like a different person editing what you’ve written, you’ll get a much clearer idea of how your argument flows and where it’s heading.
I’m noticing this with blog postings in particular. It’s a real discipline. I write, then post, then see that I need to edit. So I edit, then edit some more, then edit again, all the time very aware that the technology might be grabbing and disseminating what I really don’t want to be grabbed and disseminated because it’s not right.
There lies the rub. Can we really blog and be writers? Is thinking exactly the same thing as writing? Do hard boiled eggs and peanuts really belong in a curry?