Monday, July 22, 2013


It’s a rainy afternoon---a rarity  here in Phoenix---and I decide to celebrate by making a batch of my friend Denise’s “Soft Gingerbread.”  It’s a recipe I have made many many times, always with complete success.  As I read over the recipe I glance at the cautionary note I jotted down many years ago:  ‘It looks as though it will overflow while baking but it won’t.”
I assemble my ingredients and think about the first time I made this recipe.  During that initial trial, I watched through the glass window of the oven door as the batter quickly rose higher…and higher…and higher.  “The pan’s too small!  It’s going to overflow!” I muttered to myself.  “The texture will be ruined!”  I agonized:  Should I snatch the batter out of the oven, quickly divide it into two pans, and return it to the oven?  Or should I allow it to overflow? Either choice would lead to failure, I was convinced. 
Today, as I slide the pan (which as usual is filled perilously close to the top) into the oven, I realize that in spite of my written reminder comment, and in spite of my many successes with this recipe in the past, I am once again afraid that the batter will overflow
I clean up the kitchen, and glance nervously every few minutes through the glass window of the oven door.  And I ponder the parallels between baking gingerbread, and creating a picture book.  Having written and/or illustrated around 100 titles, I should surely know exactly how to go about it, and what to expect.  Except that sometimes I don't.  I can still arrive at the place where I am sure that a word/line/page/spread/project I am working on is not going to work out.  And I can be tempted to grab in a panic at what seems the only solution:  interrupt its gestation; scrape it into a different-sized genre; hastily stir in a new medium; get out the power-eraser . . . 
I take a deep breath.  I re-read my recipe and my cautionary note, and decide not to open the oven door mid-bake.  I will have faith.  And if my current work seems, at this moment, headed for a similar disaster? I remind myself once again:  This process has worked before.  I will not sabotage it.  I will have faith.  
I will also have a generous square of warm gingerbread.


  1. you are a very fine baker of books and of gingerbread. save me a slice of each, please.

  2. Great post Wendy. Maybe since I've baked (written) before, even though never with this many ingredients (words),somehow the recipe (novel) will turn out! Just need a pinch of faith. Thanks.

  3. Great post Wendy. Maybe even though I've never baked (written) using so many ingredients (words) this recipe (novel) might turn out after all. Just needs a pinch of faith.

  4. Doubt is one of the greatest problems we face in all aspects of life...but it's also what keeps us on our toes. Thanks for sharing your baking story.

  5. Doubt is a powerful thing as you have proven. And I think it prevents us from doing things we know the answers too but also keeps us on our toes. Thanks for sharing

  6. I love it! Having faith is, indeed, sometimes a challenge, when it looks for certain as though the pan is too small or the words/images just won't work. I'm glad you chose not to open the oven! Now please enjoy a slice for me, as well! :-)

  7. I love the comparison between baking and creating books, Wendy. The scent of your gingerbread wafts across the miles to me.