It is a fact of literary life that journal publication is sometimes delayed. So it is with the soon-to-be-revived journal scheduled to publish one of my essays. Both essay and journal are “forthcoming.”

But look over here — cake! There are certainly ways that baking a cake is like writing an essay: both depend on confidence, practice, chemistry and a little bit of magic. Good cakes and good writing both boast fine flavor, enough lift to avoid being dense but enough substance to avoid being too light. Like a writing an excellent essay, cake baking balances tradition and innovation, experiment with combinations and proportions and ideas, but stay within some general bounds dictated by common sense and physical limits. Both are best layered, and feature some contrast. Also, if it flops or collapses or just plain sucks, it’s relatively painless to trash the failed experiment. But here are three ways baking a cake is not like writing an essay:  cake baking is linear, low-stakes, and makes your house smell good.

Cake is a good consolation prize for receiving rejections, a real reward for sitting and writing, and productive procrastination for whiling away the time this writer spends waiting for her work to see print. What can’t cake do?


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