On Essays (and Cookies)

On Essays (and Cookies)

Good writing is sort of like a cookie. And there are two types of cookies: plain and chunky.

Plain cookies can be good. But the best cookies are chunky.

It’s more challenging to make a plain cookie. Maybe plain is the wrong word. Maybe I’m thinking of something uniform, lacking inclusions. Imagine a ginger bread cookie; it has no chunks. Ginger bread cookies can be good.

However.

The best chunky cookies are better than the best plain cookies. They have all the charm of a plain cookie. —Appropriate softness, moisture, texture, flavor, etc.. And they have inclusions—chunks.

Chunks are a part of the cookie. But they are differentiated pieces. Nearly all chunks are good on their own. (I can’t think of one that isn’t.) —Chocolate chips, M&M’s, macadamia nuts, white chocolate, pecans, fudge… A good chunky cookie is part good base-cookie and part good-chunk.

That enough. I figure you get my point by now.

Good writing is good throughout. Consistently good. The best writing is consistently good but contains identifiable nuggets that you can take away. Quotable bits that are good on their own but work better as a part of something larger.

[…]

An oatmeal cookie is lumpy and has too much texture. They are horrible. And they are a metaphor for bad character and judgement.

[…]

Okay, that’s all a crock of shit. My favorite cookies are called Liebe Kuchen and they are a “plain cookie” with a glazed shell. And they totally break my metaphor. But I was trying to illustrate a point.

Good writing has bits that are exceptional quotable all on their own and become more meaningful when they are a part of somethign larger.

[…]

A croissant is a metaphor for something…what? I’m not sure. But I know it’s a metaphor. We’ll get there someday.

Whatever. I suspect my point was made.