Cooking With Gas

by Randy Murray on December 20, 2011

First about cooking, then about writing.

I love to cook. It’s immediate and creative, even when I’m making the simplest meal. And, of course, it’s a time every day that lets me play with fire.

For many years we had a perfectly serviceable electric range. I had to step out to the patio and light the grill if I wanted to cook over an open flame. Then a few years ago we decided to remodel the kitchen, to strip it down to the stud walls and start over. I insisted that the design be built around a big gas range.

It’s a thing of beauty. We love the full kitchen, but I’m nuts about the gas range. I turn those big red dials and flame shoots up. I can control how high, how hot, with infinite control, even jumping down to another burner ring to a setting that lets me control very low simmering heat.

You can’t do that with an electric range. The controls are inexact. You can’t see how hot things are. And it takes time to heat up and cool down. Not with gas. I can sear and boil and fry whenever I want. Or I can simmer, melt, sauté, all with precise control. I had to wait for years to get to this point, but it was worth it. I start every day standing at that big stainless steel range and set the dials just right to make an omelet or warm the oatmeal.

And then, after enjoying the fruits of my labor, I head upstairs to my office, where I write.

Over the years the writing controls have been crude and inexact. Everything had to be just right for me to put words to paper, or I had to be at the last minute for fear and anxiety to force me to write, to carry me to completion. It might take me hours or days to warm up to a subject. I could write and write well, but it was difficult, sometimes frustrating, and always required a great deal of tinkering to keep everything just the way I needed it to keep creating, to keep writing.

Today, all I need is a spark. I can and do write anytime and anywhere. It’s so simple to set myself to a full boil or to calm things down and consider the words carefully. I didn’t discover any special magic technique. I didn’t buy any new tools. I simply kept at the practice of writing until it I gained a measure of control, until I was the one who decides, “now is the time to write.”

Yes, there are still times when I climb out of bed late at night and find my way to my keyboard. There are times when I stare at the blank screen and shake my head. But most days I sit down, make the necessary adjustments, and start writing. It’s something I learned, something I earned.

You can earn it too. Sit down, warm things up. Write. Tomorrow, do it again. Every day, do the same.

And in no time at all, you’ll be cooking with gas.

Copyright © 2011 Randy Murray. All Rights Reserved.

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