My Own Masterchef

“I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and say to myself, ‘Well, that’s not going to happen.'”

Rita Rudner


Why did she turn the damn logo upside-down? She’s only been at this a few weeks, now she’s trying to get all cool with us on the graphics.

Well, really, I thought you’d actually get the reference with the “w.” To the fact that it has something to do with “writing.” So . . .honestly? I didn’t want to dumb you down.

. . .Huh. OK . . .well . . .we’re watching you, now. (Fingers to eyes gesture. A couple times. For emphasis.)

Aaaand scene.

OK. Feeling a little freer with my form, can you tell? Right. A whole bottle of Pinot Grigio will do that, I agree. (First week of school, gimme a break.)

But, really? It had to do with the first (of many) writers’ workshops that I have had the privilege to be a part of.

My parents are headed to the Masterchef cruise soon. My mom, aside from being a huge fan of the show, also happens to be an amazing chef in her own right. She managed to make me eat my veggies as a kid by carefully manipulating them into dishes so I wouldn’t know, which makes her basically a genius. But when my dad suggested that she join some of the challenges they offered to guests on board, she refused: “I just can’t do that with all that pressure and people watching.”

Yeah, writing workshops are kinda like that.

My lunch at Sushi Yaro

There Is More Than One Gordon Ramsey In The World

Yes, there is. The group moderator, was, although slightly more (MORE) disheveled, still had that same intimidating stance. As he should. I mean, I’m coming into this thing new and he is an obviously polished writer, possibly published (where we all want to be, yay! Hearts and stars!) I got the feeling that if I saluted him, or said, ‘Yes, Chef!” though, he might have been more than a little uncomforted. That, and I might have gotten kicked out and lost my $5, all for being a smartass. He was a delicate sort of poet, probably drawing his strength from the beauty of his work. I decided to shut up and let him impart his wisdom. Didn’t want to be the one kicked off Masterchef for thinking I knew more than he did.

There Are Mystery Box Challenges

The prompts give you an idea to start writing. You have freedom within that prompt to write in any form you like, in any way it pertains to that prompt. Although they encourage stream of consciousness writing (and hand cramps), really everyone wants to put their best foot forward, their “Masterchef worthy” writings.

I think that in the Masterchef world I might be the one trying to push out Totino rolls and Spam. I took the prompts literally, writing as I would in a journal. “Collection of Lies”, you say? Well, let me tell you what I know about lies, I have two kids! I proceeded to treat the page as I would a best friend or my mom, scribbling furiously about fights and furies and frustration. Ha! Take that!

When the first person in the room started reading his piece about a barfly named Robert in the year 2035, that’s when it hit me: oh . . .fiction.

Yeah, not quite the elevated dish.

Each Person Excels At Something

So, in Masterchef, there is always the Southern chef, the Pie baker, the Family cook, the Fish Taco guy . . . every person has one specific culinary strength.

In this class, we had:

The Poet- gorgeous musings filled with alliteration, onomatopoeia, and flowery sprinklings that I was sure would give me beautiful dreams that night.

The Shocker-uses plenty of cursing and disturbing dialogue that I was sure would  give me nightmares and make me hate the human race for the rest of my life.

The One-Who-Didn’t-Follow-The-Prompt- she was working on a novel and shared the latest chapter she hadn’t yet finished about frogs and fishing (the prompt was: “Collection of Lies” . . .I’m sure I’m just not smart enough to make the connection).

The Genius- didn’t write a single thing the whole time, claiming “writer’s block,” for which he got murmurings of approval from the group.

Me- Apparently, I have a “very strong, honest voice” . . .making me The Loud Child? I don’t know.


You Lose Confidence, You Lose The Game

You can see it all the time on Masterchef: right before someone gets eliminated, chances are someone has made the comment, “She hasn’t really been on her game, she seems off.”

The endgame in these workshops is not to be the “winner” (unfortunately, there is no $250K prize), and no one gets eliminated. But if you lose confidence: A. Your writing slows to a unimaginative scrawl. B: You lose your audience. C: You lose all self esteem because no one will listen to your unimaginative scrawl, and you will then think to yourself, “well, hell, I suck.”

You Will Learn A Lot And Come Away With A Whole New Perspective

There is always that pensive moment as the eliminated chef folds his apron over his work station and leaves the Masterchef kitchen. Lots of edited cuts of some winning and not-so-winning moments, close-up shots of the chef high-fiving someone or sweating profusely, some quote from Gordon Ramsey one of the chefs’ dishes. . .

Nothing quite that profound, here. This was just a simple workshop, not a nationally broadcast prime-time show.

But, still. I felt a real sense of purpose as I packed up. That I have quite a ways to go is obvious. But this class definitely gave me a new confidence going forward. I want to do better and grow as a writer, and this forum is really going to help me get there.

Not to mention, it keeps me from eating fast food and napping most of the day. Plus, I got a great springboard for my next blog (so stay tuned!). Win for me!

A special thanks to San Diego Writers , Ink. You’ll be seeing more of me than you may like.









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