Thursday, November 19, 2015

Confessions of a Bake Off Watcher

It's been a very busy November with mountains of writing deadlines and plenty of other work and ministry. I feel I've been going at quite a galloping pace! It's not always been easy, especially since I'm continuing to work through some health issues (and just recently finished a round of antibiotics).

In the midst of all this busyness, I've found myself working a lot of very late nights and early mornings. Sometimes those are the best hours right now for writing and thinking, when the house is quiet and I can push through larger sections of work than I can when I'm working in the cracks and crevices of the day. I have discovered that I am becoming more of a morning person all the time -- which just makes me laugh. All those years I dragged out of bed for early commitments, and now I am often awake early and can't get back to sleep. I find my mind is fresher and usually more creative in the morning.

All this work has meant very little down time, especially for reading or any sort of creative writing that isn't immediately work related. When I've needed brain breaks, I've been indulging in bits of episodes of the Great British and Great Irish Bake Offs.

If you haven't caught these shows, they're great fun, especially if you enjoy watching other people bake. I love both the actual baking and the goofiness of the competition. These shows are terrific little opportunities for character studies: it's fun to notice which contestants take themselves and their baking as serious art, which ones bake like it's relaxed therapy, which ones cheerfully deal with mistakes and try to incorporate them into something creative or at least presentable, and which ones completely melt down (like chocolate?) when in crisis. The editing of the shows is intended, of course, to make these bake offs look as competitive and tense as possible, but I find it sort of goofily endearing, especially since they are a lot less over the top about this stuff in the UK than they are on American television.

It's also so much fun to contemplate creativity as you watch them approach their ideas. Some of them have these incredibly cool and creative ideas and can't carry them out at all while others are cautious in their ideas and meticulous in the execution. Some of them are so confident that it borders on cocky and can't get overly deflated even when their stuff falls apart, and some of them are so incredibly insecure that the cameraman tends to focus on their anxious eyes as they work. It's the insecure folks, I'm discovering, who often turn out the best things...and then look delighted and surprised.

The shows are really as much about people and personalities as they are baking, but I'm still learning new baking terms and concepts. I doubt I will ever try many of these things in my own kitchen, but I have found myself thinking a little more creatively about my own baking lately because of it, and I have a feeling I may end up working some of my newfound baking terminology into a story at some point! In fact, I was thinking a murder mystery in a bake off tent just might prove to be an intriguing plot.

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