Forget Contests – Writing Itself as a Competition by Debra H. Goldstein
Joel can’t understand my addiction to cooking shows like Chopped and Top Chef – especially with my well-documented aversion to the kitchen. He is even more confused at the hours of TV watching I do when I acknowledge that I could care less what pan, spice or heat any of the chefs use. I’m impressed with how these cooks take bizarre ingredients and repurpose them into something enticing.
I acknowledge their plates aren’t always perfectly composed or that sometimes the meat is underdone or the ingredients mixed together into something lumpy and unattractive. That doesn’t matter. What counts, as I repeatedly explain to Joel, is the imagination and skills the chefs rely on preparing their dishes.
What I don’t share with Joel is that these shows keep my attention, but not enough that I can’t multi-task while watching them. I also don’t admit that if it was just one chef demonstrating what could be made from a mixture of ingredients, I would change the channel. I love the competitive aspects of Chopped and Top Chef. To win, not only must the cook personally stretch using ingredients that even a professional has never seen before, but they have to produce a project that is better than that of their competitors. Being told to “Please Pack your knives and go” or “You’ve been Chopped,” means the final plate lacked innovation, style, or contained a fatal flaw.
In a way, these shows are like the process of writing. A writer can enter contests or respond to open
This is not a world for those who are unwilling to work. Even the best wordsmiths toil at the craft. But that is the fun of the competitive edge of writing – trying to produce a work that not only is a personal best, but one that stands just a bit ahead of comparable works.
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