Bear Burgers = Finishing A Novel

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

     I had bear sausage for breakfast the other day and bear burgers for dinner, compliments of a daughter who migrated to Alaska over a decade ago to seek adventure in the wild and in the classrooms of the Valdez school system. She's embraced the lifestyle. She seldom eats domestic meat. There's no need. She, her husband, son and daughter bring in all the salmon, halibut, shrimp, moose, caribou and bear they could ever consume.
    You might wonder where this is all leading and what bear burgers have to do with writing? Well hold onto your stuffed Smokey the Bear toys, I'm getting there.
      While standing at the stove cooking up the bear sausages, I was contemplating the novel I'd just finished. As I flipped sausages, the smell wafting through the house, my mind wandered back three years earlier when I thought my novel was finished once before and I wondered, was it really finished this time around?
     Time got away from me while I was cooking, my mind on the novel not on what I was flipping. So imagine my surprise when I looked down at what I thought might be overcooked, near burnt burgers to see the meat still red, as red as can be, fresh out of the package red, raw meat red.
     Were my eyes deceiving me? I looked at the clock and back at the pan, surely they'd been cooking long enough, but had they? They didn't look done. How was I to know?
     Okay, now I think you can guess my point.
     Three years ago, I thought my novel was finished, would have sworn it was, but it wasn't, no where near. I didn't know it then. Fortunately for me, an agent liked the premise and took the time to tell me exactly where improvements were needed. I could have chalked her comments up as only one agent's opinion, but I didn't. I am serious about my writing and I want it to be the best it can be, so I listened.
     Now, three years later, it's done, at least ready, really ready for submission. How do I know? I know because during the last three years while revising, I've also been honing my novel writing skills, listening and discussing pieces parts of the manuscript as I've gone along, added and enhanced and cut multiple passages and scenes and words and pages I was in love with. I know because when I re-read it, I'm no longer stopping to make changes along the way. It's ready to submit and I'm excited.
     Now back to the almost burnt bear sausages. They were done, they just didn't look done. Apparently, unlike domestic meat, bear meat does not brown when cooked. How did they taste? Well, let's just say they'll take some getting used to. I didn't dislike them I just didn't love them. Bear burgers served with all the typical hamburger trimmings was tastier to me than the breakfast sausages. Will I have them again? Probably. My daughter is still in Alaska living and loving the lifestyle and sharing the bounty.
     What are you markers for knowing when your manuscript is complete? I'd love to hear from you.



Georgia said...

Terrific analogy, Sandra. I have found myself able to step into the shoes of my main character after walking alongside her for five years. I think my writing has improved because of my closer perspective. It is a journey.

Sandra Warren said...

Thanks Georgia! It's wonderful when our characters become our friends.

I look forward to meeting yours in your novel when it's done.

Thank you for responding.

Carol Baldwin said...

Great analogy. I'm not sure what I can serve up for an analogy of my own--because I know my WIP is not done yet. Still cooking, still flipping it around, still brewing…hmmm, maybe that's my analogy. I'm brewing beer/making fine wine--that's taking time to age!

Linda A. said...

I watched a lot of Alaska survival stories on the History Channel while my husband and I were in Durham. Reading this post, I've learned things I didn't know about bear meat and how it's like making sure a manuscript is ready to submit. Fun! Thank you!

Sandra Warren said...


You're analogy sounds like more fun, at least if you're sipping brew while your story is aging. Wine is my preference and it's definitely better with age.
Keep working on that story. I look forward to reading it when it comes out.

Thanks for your comment.

Sandra Warren said...


Alaska is an amazing place. I count myself lucky to be able to experience it from the inside.

I didn't know that bear meat doesn't change color when it cooks until I was cooking it. I wasn't sure it was done. :-)

We had bear hot dogs (yep, red inside)and moose brats the other night with neighbors. We're turning them all on to wild game. Ha!

Life is an adventure!

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Hi! I’m Sandra Warren, a writer with very eclectic writing tastes. I’ve been fortunate to have publications in multiple genres including children’s, gifted education, parenting, how to, poetry, journal, educational activity guides and biography as well as audio and video production. I'm a city gal recently transplanted to the mountains of NC where glorious mountain vistas inspire latest renderings.

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