Writing is Like Boiling an Egg

by Jessica HoffartRecently I realized I had a carton of eggs in my fridge that were going to go bad if I didn’t do something with them. The sell-by date on the side of the carton was already passed by seven days. I considered baking or making an omelet, but in that moment neither sounded ideal. Instead, I decided to boil the eggs so I could have them for breakfast or in a salad for the next couple of days.

So I Googled how to boil an egg, and everyone seemed to know how to do it just right. However, which way would be the best way for me? The recipes were similar, so I picked the most common one and went with it. Fifteen minutes later, after I was all done, the eggs were ready to eat. I picked one and started to peel. This is when things got annoying. Obviously I didn’t boil them correctly because the shell didn’t want to come off without taking most of the egg with it. Each piece was small and came off slowly.

What is my point here? Well after doing this more than six times over the next couple days I got really annoyed and started thinking about the whole process. The problem with boiling eggs is that it seems so simple but they don’t always turn out perfectly.

Somewhere in my mind I drew a connection between the process of boiling and peeling the eggs to the process of writing. I realized that when writing, especially writing poetry, I often have the words or the drive to write something, but it doesn’t come out right. Some of the pieces may work and I have the recipe down, but the overall product is not what I was expecting.

The process of creating and writing is not easy. You have to keep trying different recipes, and see what comes out the way you want it to. For me writing is like cooking. The ingredients are the words, and the chopping the inspiration. You could even say that punctuation is the spice and then the quality of the meal depends on how you arrange those ingredients. Sometimes my poem will be edible, other times I wouldn’t even feed it to the dog, but overall I don’t give up. The following is a poem that I wrote in conjunction with this blog.

I hope you don’t want to feed it to the dogs.

They think it must just flow out
as if it were that easy
sometimes I do breathe words
where it feels like they
from the sky


it is more like bleeding
We have to cut out the thoughts
cut out the voices
Let go

To be a poet
Is to be a cook
Understanding the creative process
is like knowing how to boil an egg


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