Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Banana Bread and Writing, by Michele Weber Hurwitz

Among the variety of coping mechanisms people turned to during our shelter-in-place time, apparently, banana bread had a moment. I read that this delicious, dense loaf-bread soared in popularity over the spring months because prep is quick and easy, it's hard to mess up, and it finds a purpose for those mushy blackened bananas hanging out on the kitchen counter.

I've never been known for my culinary skills but there's one thing I can make, and it's banana bread! I've used the same recipe for over 20 years, given to me by a librarian friend (of course). There's something comforting, homey, and addicting about banana bread (can you eat just one slice?) -- and, I've always thought -- it's the perfect analogy for writing.

Take those bananas, for example. Sort of like characters that need time to ripen before they're fully present on the page. And when the peel is removed, it's like getting under a character's skin, finding out what's below the surface, discovering traits that give the character more flavor.

Flour, sugar, eggs, baking soda, melted butter, salt.

Flour feels like the setting; it's the foundation -- what holds the banana bread together. I think sugar is the heart and sweetness of the story, or perhaps the theme. Eggs seem like the plot -- the runny yellow liquid seeps into every corner of the bowl and helps the other ingredients blend. Baking soda is the conflict, because without it, a story is flat. Melted butter adds smoothness and flow. And salt, the surprise twist!

My recipe calls for a handful of chocolate chips sprinkled into the batter, which I always add, because I love a happy ending.

Stir well, pour into a greased loaf pan, and bake. The bread and the words. Happy eating, and happy writing.

Michele Weber Hurwitz is the author of five middle grade novels. Her newest, Hello from Renn Lake, published in May from Random House/Wendy Lamb Books. Find her online at micheleweberhurwitz.com.