by Sandie Bricker
I never really noticed it before. I mean, I knew I was emotionally invested in my characters. The first hints came when I was typing away on a scene, and balling my eyes out at the same time. Thank GOD I started writing comedies ... except of course for those times when I laughed so hard I gave myself the hiccups. But I digress.
A while back, my best girlfriend came for a visit. With several states between us (she’s in Ohio and I’m in Florida), when we do get to visit we try to keep the time as close to “real life” as we can. Instead of the typical touristy stuff, we watch movies and cook meals together and chase the dog around the house while making funny noises at her. It’s not always pretty, but it IS always a good time. So we were getting ready to watch something I’d taped on the DVR recently when Marian noticed a couple of dozen listings for the same two shows: Amazing Wedding Cakes and Cake Boss.
You see, I’ve recently been contracted by Abingdon Press to write a second novel for them: a comedy called Always the Baker, Never the Bride. The premise: an award-winning baker of pastries and wedding cakes who is also diabetic … so she never gets to indulge in her own masterpieces. Part of my research has been watching these great reality shows I found about bakeries that make extravagant specialty cakes. I now know more about this very dangerous confection than is reasonably safe. Jillian Michaels (the really mean trainer from The Biggest Loser) would surely smack me down if she knew.
“Can I watch a few of them with you?” Marian asked me when I defended the evidence on my DVR.
"It's research!" I was quick to point out, and I was so excited that she was interested in that research that together we watched several hours of cake television. Talk about your Must-See TV!
Oh, and we saw lots of cakes, too. Cakes with butter cream icing and cakes with fondant. Cakes with raspberry filling, and decadent (what I like to call) chocolate coma cakes. Big cakes, little cakes, and everything-in-between cakes. Tiered cakes and sheet cakes and topsy turvy stacked cakes. If a person could gain weight from staring at caloric television, Marian and I would have easily gained 25 pounds each by the time we were through! In the second hour, we dug into the Weight Watchers lemon cake snacks in the kitchen. The next day, we talked about our dream desserts and ended up going to the grocery store and buying individual slices of birthday cake out of the bakery display. So much better than having a whole one in the house, right?
I work with a guy named Alan. Alan LOVES to eat, and of course he never gains an ounce which is just completely WRONG ... but again, I digress. On the days when someone is celebrating a birthday in our office, Alan lights up like a 5-year-old on Christmas the moment the e-mail comes around announcing "cake on the 2nd floor!" There really is something about CAKE, isn't there?
Two weeks after she went home, Marian called to tell me she couldn’t stop thinking about my story, and how horrible it would be to make your living as a baker and never get to enjoy your creations! (Translation: Like me, she was still thinking about CAKE!) In fact, to celebrate the fact that she was not diabetic and could indulge whenever she wanted, she made a cake of her own. And I had to admit to her that I had too. It was a Weight Watchers recipe … but it was a cake just the same!
This got me to thinking … as writers, we really are under the influence of our characters, aren’t we? I don’t know about you, but I’m a very emotional girl. When I read a book or watch a movie, I really get into it. I even cry at the sappiest of television commercials, which means it takes less than 30 seconds for me to relate with the people in them. 30 SECONDS!
The upside, of course, is that being an emotional WRITER has propelled me into a world where I draw emotional READERS toward my books. They tell me all the time that while reading my books they laughed, they cried, sometimes they did both at the same time! And without fail, when I read one of those letters or emails, I feel triumphant … I’m happy to “tap the sap” in them, as one of my friends loves to say.
The downside, however … I really can’t stop thinking about CAKE! This book is due in November. All prayers for my strength and willpower gratefully accepted.