Answer the two questions at the end. baking a cake by natalie

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Answer the two questions at the end.

Baking a cake

by Natalie Goldberg

when you bake a cake, you have ingredients: sugar, flour, butter, baking soda, eggs, milk. You put them in a bowl and mix them up, but this does not make it cake. This makes goop. You have to put them in the oven and add heat or energy to transform it into cake, and the cake looks nothing like it’s original ingredients. It’s a lot like parents unable to claim the hippie kids as their own in the 60s. Milk and eggs look at their pound cake and say, “ not ours.” Not egg, not milk, but PhD daughter of refugee parents-a foreigner in her own home.

In a sense this is what writing is like. You have all these ingredients, the details of your life, by just to list them is not enough. “I was born in Brooklyn. I have a mother and a father. I am female.”You must add the heat and energy of your heart. This is not just any father; this is your father. The character who smoked cigars and put too much ketchup on his steak. The one you loved and hated. You can mix the ingredients in a bowl; they have no life. You must become one with the details in love or hate; they become an extension of your body. Nabokov says, ” Caress the divine details.” He doesn’t say, ” Jostle them in place or banged them around.” Caress them, touch them tenderly. Care about what is around you. Let your whole body touched the river you are writing about, so if you call it yellow or stupid or slow, all of you is feeling it. This should be no separate you when you are deeply engaged. Katagiri Roshi said:” when you do zazen. [Sitting meditation], you should be gone. So zazen does zazen. Not Steve or Barbara does zazen.” This is also how you should be when you write: writing does writing. You disappeared: you are simply recording the thoughts that are streaming through you.

The cake is baking in the oven. All that heat goes into the baking of that cake. Then heat is not distracted, thinking,” oh, I wanted it to be a chocolate cake, not a pound cake.” You don’t think as you write,” oh, I don’t like my life, I should have been born in Illinois.” You don’t think. You accept what is and put down its truth. Katagiri Roshi has said:” literature will tell you what life is, but it won’t tell you how to get out of it.”

Ovens can be very cantankerous sometimes, and you might have to learn ways to turn your heat on. Timing your writing and pressure and helps to heat things up and blast through the internal censor. Also, keep in your hand moving and not stopping at to the heat, so a beautiful cake may rise out of the mixture of the daily details. If you find yourself checking the clock too much as you write, say to yourself you’re going to keep writing onto three (or four or five) pages, both sides, I filled or until the cake is a baked, however long that takes. And you are never sure once the heat begins whether you will get a devil’s food or an angel for cake. There are no guarantees; don’t worry. They’re both good to eat.

There are people who try to use heat only, without ingredients, to make a cake. The heat is cozy and feels good, but when you’re done, there’s not much there for anyone else to eat. That’s usually extract writing; we get a sense there is great warmth there, but we have nothing to bite into. If you use details, you become better skilled at conveying your ecstasy or sorrow. So while you fly around in the heat of the oven, bring in the batter in the pan so we know exactly what you’re feeling states like, so we may be a goal met of them:” oh, is a pound cake, a brownie, a light lemon soufflé.” That is what her feelings feel like. Not” there was great, it was great!” Yes, it was great, but how great? Give us the flavor. In other words, use details. They are the basic unit of writing.

And in using them, you are not only baking cakes and buzzing around the oven. In writing with detail, you are turning to face the world. It is a deeply political at, because you are not yet staying in the heat of your own emotions. You are offering up some good solid bread for the hungry.

Summarize what you think Goldberg is trying to say with this article.


How might you apply some of Goldberg’s advice to the essay you’re working on now? Be specific.

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