| Julia Child's first TV Show, The French Chef|
She made beef Bourguignon
February 11, 1963
My daughter and I chose to make beef Bourguignon, step by step copying Julia's every move on the show.
The family's first comment after tasting the meal that took five hours to make? Yum!
During the show, Julia casually taught skills as she worked in real time, which allowed her to share secrets while the food cooked. One of the many skills she told the "sevantless American cook" was: "You must have conviction."
At the time the show aired, Americans searched for convenience. Mealtime, although a necessity, encroached on the day. Hamburger helper and other similar foods became the staple. Few women had time or a desire to complete the steps necessary for dishes like beef Bourguignon.
Julia's challenge: prove to the American cooks that big projects can be broken down into doable steps.
In her show, Julia taught what portions of the recipe could be done the night before and placed in the "icebox" until needed. She lured American cooks into making their family's meal from scratch by tasting, making mistakes, speaking as one who understands, and showing a magnificent product.
Time and priorities. Both are key issues to making a fabulous meal like beef Bourguignon.
Any of this sounding familiar to your writing?
Julia wanted to show the American cook not only how to do the job, but that they COULD make something complicated, tasty, and rewarding.
In another episode, Julia flicked a skillet containing an egg mixture. Most of the matter flipped as she intended but some flew out of the pan and onto the stove surface. "No one sees you in the kitchen." She scooped the spilled mixture from the stove and blended it with the other egg in the skillet. Her swift hand smoothed and pressed the wayward pieces as though they never left the skillet. The final presentation of the egg dish proved the work of a master could be made by any cook.
I wanted to let these comments about Julia's skills flow before making points, allowing you the first opportunity to apply what can benefit your work the most.
Now it is time for both of us to share. I will give you a few points that popped in my head then you add your thoughts in the comments.
1. When spaced appropriately throughout our day, there is time to write. Each person and every day is different. Sometimes there isn't a block of time to write. Use every available minute to write. One hundred words here and there add up.
2. Scenes can be written in a different order. As a scene pops in your mind write it down while it is fresh. Save it in the icebox until needed. Yes, it may need to be modified later because it doesn't completely match the timeline of the story. That's all right. At least it's there, not gone to that place where all unwritten brilliant ideas, keys, and missing socks disappear. Black hole scenes can not be retrieved.
3. Decide to get something done. Distractions rob our time, making us feel like the off task project is necessary when it isn't. Prioritize. Run from commercial break distractions, they will suck you in and steal your time. Stay true to your conviction.
4. While learning, play by the rules. Yes, seasoned authors have broken writing rules. But, those same authors first focused on the basics, became masters then found where a broken rule could add flavor. A novice breaking a rule adds bitterness.
The dictionary defines conviction as: a fixed or firm belief. Skipping no steps. No short cuts. When we write our stories with conviction, a natural result will be an accurate story.
Professional writers/authors own a fixed or firm belief in their reason for being a writer, their skills, and their product. They each have formulated a system that works as smoothly as hopping on a bicycle. Most importantly: they write everyday.
For one day, my daughter and I had the conviction we could make beef bourguignon. And we did it, just like Julia said we could. After tasting the meal, my daughter hunted through Julia's shows, looking for another meal to make with Julia.
How about you? Help us learn from points you gleamed?
Mary has moved to Michigan with her husband, closer to her three college kids. She misses the mountains of Montana, but loves seeing family more often. She writes contemporary and romance Christian fiction and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids.