Go Slow to Go Fast

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1 Book rec on writing

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My nephew Donny and I were making Sally’s* shortbread cookies. They’re called short because of the amount of butter used. The more butter or fat, the more crumbly, tender, and just-plain-old-yummy the cookie.

Donny plugged in the hand mixer to cream the butter and sugar then put the speed on high, moving it around fast, bits spitting onto the counter.

“Whoa! Slow,” I said. “Let’s keep it in the bowl. You have to go slow to go fast.”

He looked at me. “Slow to be fast?”

“Yes!” I said. It’s a concept I told him about, kind of like the carpenter’s proverb to measure twice and cut once. “Take your time and move slowly, starting at low speed and moving up.” We rolled the dough and he tossed it, molding and playing with it. Getting the consistency right.

He reminded me of a child making mud pies and I laughed. Dough stuck to the rolling pin and we used more flour to dust the boards. But, the cookies tasted good when they came out of the oven.

Warm and buttery. Crisp and crumbly.

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Shortbread newbies

Like You Don’t Know How

In my reading I came across a story about a jazz guitarist who was working with Miles Davis. The guitarist said Davis advised him how to play a certain song, “Play it like you don’t know how to play the guitar.” And he admits that he had no idea what Davis meant, but he proceeded to play the piece better than he ever imagined he could.

The authors of the book, Good Prose – the Art of Nonfiction, explain that there is something else at work. Don’t concentrate on technique. Do give yourself up to the song. At some point you have to trust yourself, as a guitarist, as a writer or baker, as whatever.

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These feel related, the idea of going slow and trusting yourself to the process. I’m making cookies for Easter this weekend, a white chocolate macadamia nut. Haven’t made the recipe before, but will make it like I don’t know how, going slow and planning for it to be good.

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FOOTNOTES

*Go slow to go fast. Origins perhaps from German proverb: Go slow now, go fast later. The founder of the Roman Empire, Augustus, used the Latin phrase, Festina lente: Make haste, slowly. Why Going Slow Will Make You Go Faster (Maudal & Fossen, Dec 2017)

*Good Prose, the Art of Nonfiction: Stories and advice from a lifetime of writing and editing. Tracy Kidder and Richard Todd. (Random House, 2013) Rating: 3.91, 1376 ratings, 261 reviews. I picked this up at the library and skimmed the introduction and went directly to chapters of interest, then found myself reading more and more.

*Sally’s Cookie Addiction cookbookShortbread online recipe I use her cookbook for the cookies and they may be different than those online. The photos are great with easy-to-read hints and recipes.

*Sally’s Baking Addiction online recipe for White Chocolate Macadamia Nut

Apr 8, 2023

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About the Author

Mylinh Shattan is a writer who has lived on three continents, served in the Army, worked in corporate America, and taught in college. She loves adventures, in the world and in the mind. Literature is relevant and learning is a lifelong pursuit, so you might as well have a bit of fun along the way.

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