So, remember back at the beginning of the month, how everyone was saying “Oh, look, it’s Groundhog's Day. Did you know that the groundhog’s predictions are wrong more often than right?” But THEN, this year, the groundhog said six more weeks of winter—and lo and behold, it’s been nothing but snow, and snow piles, and snow days, and rock salt shortages (at least where I live—your mileage may vary).
And that got me thinking about writing “superstitions,” by which I mean those little rituals and habits we develop and writers, which are 100% guaranteed to work the way we need them to (again, your mileage may vary). And I’m not talking about reasonable, sensible stuff that fits under the broad category of having a good work ethic. I’m talking about the entirely EVEN MORE sensible practices which involve developing YOUR VERY OWN deeply rooted superstitions.
I have heard tell of a writers’ group in Oregon that possessed a magic plastic tiara, which, if worn during the submission process, practically guaranteed a positive response.
And Barnes and Noble used to sell a magic concoction known as “Writers’ Chai” in their bookstores that, once drunk, guaranteed a productive work session.
And then there are “Writer’s Block Cure Cupcakes,” that I just invented last week, which are to be made and eaten to cure writer’s block. They are chocolate, which is important—and they are very easy to make, which is important if you are me.
Here is the recipe.
1. DON’T USE AN ELECTRIC MIXER. The electricity will somehow mess up the magic part—or maybe it’s just that I’m usually too lazy to get my mixer out of its cupboard.
2. Put 1 cup sugar in a large bowl.
3. Put 1 cup flour in a large bowl.
4. Add 1 teaspoon baking powder
5. Add ½ teaspoon baking soda
6. Add ¾ teaspoon salt. For extra good luck, put the salt in the bowl by pouring over your left shoulder.
7. Add ½ cup cocoa powder
8. Stir with spoon of your choice (although you will be happier if you don’t choose a teeny-tiny spoon).
9. Turn on the oven, set to 350.
9. Turn on the oven, set to 350.
10. Get a measuring up for liquids and put….
11. …½ cup buttermilk in it (if you don’t have buttermilk, you can make it by taking regular milk, adding 1 ½ teaspoons of vinegar to it, and letting it sit for 5 minutes. Or you can just use regular milk.)
12. ¼ cup oil
13. 2 tablespoons vanilla
14. 2 eggs
15. Stir all these liquids together.
16. Then add the stirred liquids to the stirred powdered and stir until everything is mixed into a big gloopy-looking mess of chocolate.
17. Then get 1 cup of piping hot/boiling coffee and pour into the big gloopy mess. Stir and stir some more until everything is mixed together. The batter will be thin.
18. Even if you hate coffee (like I do), don’t skip this step. You can’t taste the coffee in the cupcakes—it just somehow makes the chocolate taste more chocolately through some kind of magic I do not understand.
19. You can use instant coffee if you want. The cupcakes don’t care.
20. Or if you really don’t feel like making coffee, add a ½ teaspoon espresso powder to recipe. Put it in right after the salt, and add it by pouring it over your right shoulder.
21. Put paper liners in a cupcake pan, or if you don’t have paper liners, grease and flour a cupcake pan. This should make about 12 cupcakes.
22. Pour batter into the cupcake pan.
23. Bake for 15-17 or so minutes. Put a toothpick in the middle of a cupcake to check for doneness. When the toothpick comes back clean, take cupcakes out of oven.
24. Turn off oven (which I only mention because usually forget this part)
25. Eat a cupcake right then if you must.
26. Let the cupcakes cool, put them in something airtight, and then put them in the fridge. Writer’s Block Cure Cupcakes, like revenge and winter itself, are best served cold.
27. If you want frosting, you are on your own. I understand it is easy to make and that there are many fine recipes, but making it involves getting the mixer out, and that isn’t happening.
28. If you do make frosting, I recommend eating it off a spoon and leaving the cupcakes plain. Frosting on spoons is highly acclaimed and rightfully so. And plain cupcakes are perhaps even more delicious than frosted ones.
29. Now go write.