Writing Soup

close up of a chicken soup in a bowl

“Soup” is one of my favorite words in the English language. It’s such a pleasant word. When you think of soup, it’s comforting. However, the actual meaning of ‘soup’ is pretty cut and dry. This is the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of soup: 

“a liquid dish, typically made by boiling meat, fish, or vegetables, etc., in stock or water” OR “a substance or mixture perceived to resemble soup in appearance or consistency”

For me, soup is often a mix of leftovers that don’t quite make a meal on their own. Of course, you can make a soup with ingredients chosen on purpose. But, when I make soup, I’ve found that my favorite soups are those with things that don’t seem to go together, made palatable by spices. For me, a soup is whatever you can throw in a pot with water and spices and see how it turns out.

I often see my journal writing and essay drafts as soups of a sort. The digital medium of a word processor is the broth. My random thoughts, half-baked ideas, and fragmented concepts all sort of just spill out into the pot as the meat. Sometimes, the result is great, tasty, and delicious. But, too often, I find I’m dumping it out and choosing a different course.

Of course, it’s also possible to create a soup with seemingly random ingredients and prep it in such a way to make it a solid dish worthy of serving to strangers. Maybe not everything will fit, and bits will just sort of float to the surface, needing to be plucked out. Perhaps, you may use some or all of these bits in a different soup. When it comes to my writing soups, I often do save more than a few bits, many of which probably belong in the compost pile.

But, rarely do I deliver posts that are true comfort food, like tomato soup or chicken noodle soup. Even the most basic soups can become very complicated dishes depending on who prepares them. Much of my writing ends up being needlessly complex, and not in a way that makes them solid complements to salad, either. In recent years, I’ve been trying to streamline my writing to make my recipes more easily understood.

Actually, I don’t have writing recipes! I kind of just make things up as I go along, just like with my soups!

So, it’s really OK if you sit down and write something, then end up with a weird concoction with fishbones and random uncooked bits floating atop it. That’s gonna happen sometimes. Honestly, just like with real cooking, you can learn a lot from failures. That’s how you grow as a cook and a writer. Both are arts, after all.

Sometimes, your soup is gonna be a stinker. But, you never know when you’ll cook up a soup worthy of international accolades. You just got to keep the back burner on and never give up on your art.

~ Amelia Desertsong

Amelia Desertsong is a former content marketing specialist turned essayist and creative nonfiction author. She writes articles on many niche hobbies and obscure curiosities, pretty much whatever tickles her fancy.

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