Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cupcakes and Creativity

Dressed as Julie in Julie and Julia with
Kathy Patrick of the Pulpwood Queens!
I'd like to talk about cupcakes for a while. Rather, cupcakes and writing and how the two go together.

See, there's this place in town where all they sell are cupcakes. I was there today. One cupcake cost me more than three dollars. A three dollar cupcake! Do I need to say more? I split it with a knife into three sections and shared it between my two kids and myself. I had a bit less than a dollar's worth. That was one hefty cupcake.

Seeing as that one was three dollars, it was pretty much out of the question to order 20 cupcakes for my daughter's class tomorrow. She's turning 8 years old over spring break next week, so we're celebrating early with cupcakes in her class. Last year as I was traveling with birthday cupcakes to her class, someone rear-ended my car and the cupcakes went flying, so I'm a little nervous about tomorrow, but that's neither here nor there.

So about these cupcakes...and about my daughter. She cares about people. She likes to please people, but she's not so much interested in pleasing the masses, per se. She's more interested in pleasing those whom she cares about. My daughter told me she wanted cupcakes with no eggs in them since a boy in class is allergic to eggs, which is why we were in this three-dollar-cupcake shop in the first place. Apparently, they make some without eggs. However, the cost is prohibitive.

So while the kids were in the dentist's office, I ran over to the grocery store and bought a cake mix, icing, and applesauce. On the Internet, I read that you could replace the eggs with applesauce and a little vinegar, and something else. The something else is what I couldn't remember because the Internet was down tonight. So I made the cupcakes with oil instead of butter and applesauce with a dash of vinegar instead of eggs. Sounds awful, doesn't it? I was worried. My mother, the baker in the family, said, "How are they going to rise without eggs?" I SO don't know. I write books. I paint pictures. But I don't bake much.

I poured the batter into the cupcake thingies and stuck two pans in the oven. Every few minutes, I checked to see if anything was happening. They rose, ever so slightly, barely a blip, but I saw them. I noticed. After twenty minutes, I pulled them out and saw that they were chocolaty and semi-firm. I let them cool. Later my daughter and I piped on whipped white icing out of a plastic bag, and my daughter insisted on not icing one of them so her other friend who doesn't like icing could have one. Great. An eggless cupcake with no icing. Delicious.

I made two dozen, so the four of us at home could each try one tonight and send in the 20 we needed for school tomorrow. I wrote a note to the teacher assuring her I did not put eggs in the cupcakes (as if she wouldn't notice), and then we tasted. I held my breath. And bit.

Scrumptious, melt-in your mouth, chocolaty goodness, rich, heavenly...yum. Almost like molten chocolate cake. I was very pleased and figure I'll be winning mom-of-the-week around my daughter's class tomorrow. What a surprise. Can't wait to tell my own mother.

So what do these cupcakes have to do with writing, you ask? This is a writing blog after all. Well, I'll tell you.

My daughter did not set out to please the entire second grade with these cupcakes, not even the majority. There were one or two people who had special needs, and she simply wanted to please them. This made her happy. This also made her (read me) take a risk. I have never baked a cupcake without eggs, never even heard of it. Even my mother, the baker, doubted it. But my daughter and I tried something new. Everyone knows a cupcake is made from mix, eggs, butter, and water (unless you're a by-scratch person), but we put it together with oil and applesauce and vinegar, and guess what? Maybe it's not a cupcake for the masses, but sometimes baking--or writing--for an audience of one is more important. And more memorable.

I try to write for an audience of one, for my father in heaven, and when I do, there are no set rules about what order to put things in, no set ingredient list, no mass of people clamoring for eggs and rising batter. Writing for an audience of one means sometimes you'll create an unexpected delicacy, an original idea, a decadent combination that a certain audience will find perfectly palatable.

I love taking risks with my writing. I love doing something I've never done before, something that may not even be doable. I like to write for an audience of one. It makes me happy. And if it flops, at least I got to spend time with my father in the kitchen and lick the batter off the wooden spoon.

Nicole Seitz is the author and cover illustrator of The Inheritance of Beauty, Saving Cicadas, A Hundred Years of Happiness, Trouble the Water, and The Spirit of Sweetgrass. The Inheritance of Beauty is a Books-a-Million Faithpoint Book Club Selection for May 2011. Nicole teaches art at a local private school in the Charleston, SC area, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is currently editing her sixth novel. http://www.nicoleseitz.com/


Sun Singer said...

I never knew one could make a cup cake without an egg, but then I never knew there was a place where a cup cake might cost $3.

Always learning. . .

Jennifer Richardson said...

Oh, this just dipped down from heaven and whooshed into that man-pleasing place in my heart
and squeezed balm all over it.
Soothed away some fear.
I love how that works.
Thanks for this nourishing
bit of wonder.

Shellie Tomlinson said...

As a writer who loves to write for an audience of One, this is one of my favorite posts to ever grace this blog. Thanks for the unique perspective, Nicole! Bake on, or write on, or maybe RIGHT ON, girl! :)

Jessica Kahle said...

I love this! Wow what an awesome perspective. I, too, love to write for that same audience of One. It's nice to know, like you said, that if it flops, it wasn't necessarily a waste. Such insight. I really loved reading this.

Susan Cushman said...

Such a fun read, Nicole. I've been struggling with our theme of how nature affects our writing, and your post reminded me that the theme is OPTIONAL. No telling what I'm going to write about now:-) But probably not baking.

escorts madrid said...

Thanks so much for your post, pretty helpful material.

Anonymous said...

i am 11 and i have a cupcake buisness so this was help