"Scared, but inspired."
I just sent a recipe to a friend.
It’s about as simple as a recipe gets. The basics: combine flour, water and pineapple juice. Let it sit.
And that was her reply: “Scared, but inspired.”
Yes, she’s scared. But why is this so daunting?
I get it. I’ve been there.
A little backstory…
Lockdown has been productive.
Being forced to spend time inside has forced a realization of some simple pleasures.
Like so many other folks during this bizarre time in history, my friend has rediscovered the actual joy of cooking.
This friend also suffers from some actual, medical issues related to gluten.
(Yes, she actually knows what gluten is. She’s not a victim of pop-culture anti-wheat fashion. She has not stopped trying to “Save the whales” in an effort to “Free the gluten!”)
She and I were talking about how, for some people like her, organic flour and actual wild-yeast sourdough bread can be indulged without medical challenge. She wants to try baking wild-yeast bread.
So I offered to send her a recipe sourdough starter.
And it is insanely simple.
It requires flour, water and pineapple juice. You let it sit for a few days. Periodically, you add more water and flour.
It also scares the crap out of people.
Look at me. It took me years between first seeing the recipe and actually trying it.
And I have a theory about why this is such a daunting undertaking.
The process is so simple and the result so lovely, it seems like dark magic.
To make such minimalism and austerity come alive in the joy of fresh bread, we feel we need to know some secret, some kind of voodoo, that we must possess some finger of God to make these things work.
I suspect that part of the problem is we know too much about too many things.
An uneducated peasant who can make bread from flour and simple liquids doesn’t know much at all.
Why the hell is there pineapple juice?
Yeast thrive in an acidic environment. Hence, pineapple juice makes them happy.
But once you know this, you start to wonder what else you don’t know.
And the unknown looms large.
You wonder, Can I do this dark magic that delivers the staff of life from mundane materials?
As a result of all this wondering and thinking, people screw it up all the time.
Writing advertising is the same way. It's a simple task that people screw it up all the time.
With advertising writing, it’s often so hard to see the simple, straight line between the basic business and the best message.
Writing, writing, writing.
And what happens is nothing, nothing nothing.
As failed taxidermist cum famous journalist Gene Fowler once said, “Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
But it’s just not that hard to write.
Well, maybe that's harder.
But still, if you let it happen, it’s just the right words on paper.
As the famous New York Evening Sun columnist (and second husband of Kurt Vonnegut’s first wife) Don Marquis once wrote, “I never think when I write. Nobody can do two things at the same time and do them well.”
Which might explain my friend’s response.
“Scared, but inspired.”
Think too much about it, and it seems impossible.
Stop thinking about it, and it becomes attainable.
So much in life seems to work out better when thinking steps out of the way of acting.
And in the case of sourdough starter, it’s as simple as anything can get.
Yeast are just fungi. Give them the right food, and they do all the hard work.
All you have to do is stop thinking and get out of their way.
And as the unknown copywriter and award-winning third husband of renowned novelist The Fabulous Honey Parker once said...
Bread happens. If you let it.
Your Lean, Mean Creative Director in Park City
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Blaine Parker is prone to ranting about any and all things related to brand. In many ways, he is a professional curmudgeon. While there is no known vaccine for this, the condition is also not contagious. Unless you choose it to be so.