Mise en Place

Cooks know there’s something called a mise en place: You read the recipe, if there is one, and assemble your tools and ingredients. It’s a way of cooking, a preparation of sorts before you begin the actual process. On my one visit to Paris, I bought a small cookbook and worked hard at translating to make some of the recipes. This took time, effort, and the right place to prepare.

The same thing is true for writing. The writer’s mise en place is in fact a place. In this blog we three authors have declared our writing space, shared our desks, and relayed our ‘spots’ that draw us to the page. A private office is wonderful, but it isn’t essential. Jackie loves coffee houses, and Diana thrives in her private corners loaded with books where some of her best writing begins at 3 a.m.

Like a chef/cook, I set out measuring cups, spoons, and ingredients needed for a certain dish or dessert, have veggies cut or diced, or my tangerine KitchenAid in place with the correct beaters, and whipping cream poured and chocolate slowing melting, and create in whatever ordered sequence necessary to get the end result.   

I correlate this same method with writing. As in cooking, I feel the urge for a certain taste, a meal of flavors to form into a beautiful plate of food, and know that I am going to prepare this just so. As in writing, the urge leads in the same way to that particular desk or chair instead of a kitchen counter and cookbooks. There needs only to be a tacit understanding that this is my creative retreat. It should be my “creation space,” so when I go to that special table or corner or armchair, my body knows, even before my mind does, that I am about to write. I have my ingredients; pencils to grab, colored pens to write, and a notebook ready to open beside my laptop. They are always measured and ‘in place’. 

I love that rush, the alacrity that sets in suddenly, and the moments following to take chase, and then give pace to the outcome. Memorable meals do take time and so does writing. Each has its place, and both give great enjoyment. Do you have a place where you can think, where you can dream, and explore? Experience le plaisir!   

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