You Can’t Ever Tell


My book is due today. I’m still writing it. After all, it’s Sunday. My editor is home doing the New York Times crossword and eating croissants. (I don’t really know that. I just imagine that’s what editors do on Sundays. Then they take a walk in Central Park with their little dog, buy a fruit glace, and reread Madame Bovary. Or something. I don’t really know. I just know they’re not at the office waiting for my book file to arrive in their email box.) So I will finish my book by the end of the day and email the file to my editor before midnight so the email is dated June 1st and I will still officially make my deadline. Nothing like pushing things till the last minute.

Then I will get up tomorrow and hit the garden like a hoein’ fool.

Or not. But I may start unpacking some of the many boxes sitting around here and finish settling into the house. And decide whether I want to learn to make soap or candles first. And go outside once an hour, lift my face to the sky, and shout, FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST, THANK GOD ALMIGHTY, I’M FREE AT LAST.

I’m also actually teaching an online writing workshop that starts today, too, but I hope they are also doing the New York Times crossword and walking their dog in Central Park because I don’t have enough brain cells for that. (And if you are signed up for my class and you’re reading this, I’m just kidding. I’m so prepared. I’ll be right there.)

In the meantime, the last days and hours of finishing a book are exhausting and mind-numbing. Yesterday, after I tore some hair out, whimpered, stared at the ceiling in despair crying, GOD, WHY ME, then wrote 10 pages (because, you know, the book, She Is Not Done), I decided since I was being Superwoman and all, I’d make dinner. For the past four days, my kids have been eating turkey sandwiches and chili after I took a day off last week to cook a massive amount of help-yourself food in preparation for these final harrowing days. The turkey’s almost gone and the chili is history, and everyone is tired of turkey and chili anyway. So I went for something simple, something easy, something my depleted brain cells could handle–spaghetti sauce from a jar (hey, it’s not more turkey sandwiches or chili) and one of my dear old friend recipes, French bread. I made the dough. It was all fixed, nice ball of prepared dough, ready to go into the oiled bowl to rise. I was feeling quite proud, in my suicidal I-have-24-hours-to-finish-this-book way.

Then my little depleted brain noticed the package of yeast sitting on the counter. You know, the package of yeast that was supposed to go into the dough. Like, at the beginning. I had a completely mixed, kneaded, prepared ball of dough ready to set in the bowl to rise. And there was no yeast in it. That is the brain power of a writer in the final throes of a book. (Thank God I used spaghetti sauce from a jar or no telling what would have happened to that.)

Desperately, I grabbed the package of yeast, cut it open, dumped it on the ball of dough, and started kneading. And flipping out and asking myself if I’d gone insane. The yeast looked grainy in the dough. Not mixing in. Not gonna happen and it was ridiculous anyway. You can’t add yeast when the dough is already made. Disaster. Stupid. This dinner was supposed to be simple, easy! I can’t make another ball of dough! I can’t, I can’t!

So I stuck the bowl on top of the toaster and made another ball of dough because of course I can despite feeling quite frustrated and tired and suicidal. (The final hours of finishing a book are Very Dramatic.) The second ball of dough rose quite nicely, in spite of the fact that I rushed the dough in my frustration and didn’t add enough flour, and I stuck it in the oven. I took it out, set it on a baking rack to cool, and decided it was time to throw out that crappy ball of dough that hadn’t risen because I’d tried to put the yeast in it after the fact. Just as I was about to throw it out, I realized, well, it had risen a little bit….. In its pathetic, this-is-so-not-right way.

And I could see the yeast, not grainy anymore, but activated, bits of sort of pebbling on the outside of the loaf, which meant the bits that had gotten inside were probably okay, too. And I HATE TO WASTE STUFF. And I’d gone this far…. So I kneaded it for a bit, shaped up a loaf, and….

I stuck it in the oven.

Here are my two loaves of bread. Neither loaf is anything to write home about, but can you tell which loaf is the one I screwed up, the one that no way in the world should have actually ended up making a legitimate loaf of bread, and which is the second properly made loaf (albeit, not with enough flour so the dough was sticking to my hands as I shaped the loaf)?

The one on the right is the loaf from the dough I screwed up. Yes, now we know, you can add the yeast AFTER the fact. I don’t recommend it, but…. I sliced it and it was just fine, tasted fine, looked fine. In fact, looked better than the second loaf I made in my near-sobbing drama.

As Georgia says, “You can’t ever tell.”

Georgia would also tell you to never throw anything out, but that is another story and should absolutely include pictures of the inside of her barn.


  1. Kathryn says:

    Good morning! I have learned something else from you today. I always pictured you in author mode as wafting around the house in a delicious pegnoir, very Loretta Young, stopping now and then to slap out a chapter or six. Then, out to the porch for pie. Who knew? The best of days to you, and may the last bits come together as nicely as that bread!

  2. Heidi says:

    I’ll keep you in my prayers today for a great finish on your book – How would one get into an online writing class. Just for curiosity sake… 🙂 the bread dont look bad at all – 🙂

  3. Jyl says:

    Instead of seeing pictures of Georgia’s barn I would like to go prowl through it…I bet there are all kinds of treasures to be found! The bread actually looks good! And I hope you survive the day, with your book and all…heck, I hope I survive the day.

  4. Ann from Montana says:

    Hope today goes well! or at least goes…

  5. Carolyn says:

    It’s nice to know that there are people out there who are just people like everyone else. The bread looks great … both loaves in fact. As long as they were made with love, who cares what they look like. I would have eaten them. Good luck with getting the book done and hoping you get some time to rest. xxoo

  6. Becky says:

    I hope you made extra spaghetti to go with the extra bread!
    Good luck with the book and online class! :yes:

  7. Mental P Mama says:

    Good luck! I can smell that bread…. :shimmy:

  8. rebecca says:

    Awwwwwww! You can do it! {{{{hugs}}}}

  9. annbb says:

    I’m just impressed as all get out that you – or anyone – can sit down and write 10 pages, let alone a whole book!


    it may look disgusting in the pics but it tastes and smells deliciouse :shimmy: :friday:

  11. Carolyn says:

    Good for you Princess! I thought it looked good enough to eat myself. My poor oven is on its last legs, so I can’t bake anything right now. I would have LOVED to have the loaf your Mom didn’t think came out right. xxoo

  12. Susan says:

    Best wishes for meeting the deadline. I am sooo impressed with the ten page day and making bread to go with supper that same day.

  13. Suzanne McMinn says:

    Update: I finished!

    Now I’d better go email it to my editor before I forget. Because I could so totally forget to do that…..

  14. maryann says:

    I’m sure the bread tasted find. Although you have destroyed my image of you, see I figured you would be something like my DH and be talking into a mic and recording everything to let a minion (like me) to either type it out or have a computer program to do the typing for you. That was the only way I could figure out how you would have all the time to do the things that you do plus write your books.

  15. Suzanne McMinn says:

    LOL, if ONLY I had some minions!!!!

  16. Susan says:

    Woo Hoo! Congratulations on finishing your book, Suzanne! :shimmy: I was laughing the whole time I read your tale of woe. That is exactly what happens to my mom. She says that is what happens when your brain is so full of information. :yes:

  17. Sarah in Sanford says:

    You Can’t Ever Tell is so true about so many things in life.


    I know I’m not going to be your minion

    I WANT DINNER :hungry: :hungry: :hungry:


    :bananadance: :bananadance: :elephant: :guitar: :rockon: :hellokitty: :treehugger: :shocked: :chicken: :heart: 😆

  20. Tori Lennox says:

    Man, Georgia must be related to my grandmother. She never threw anything out either!

  21. Ann from Montana says:

    It’s funny..I have a full life, lots of things to do, lots on my list that I didn’t get done yet this weekend…but I have been checking back – several times – hoping to see the “it’s done” message…

    Well, Glad it is done – hope by now it is also emailed off! And also that Princess has had her dinner! Fun to hear from her by the way…

    Have a wonderful evening and tomorrow doing whatever it is that you decide to do!

  22. Becky says:

    Suzanne, didn’t you post about Princess making Grandmother Bread? Maybe, next time she can help poor overloaded Mom and make the bread for ya! :mrgreen:
    I’m sure she could use the practice.

  23. Suzanne McMinn says:

    See? She’s so contrary! She refuses to be my minion!

  24. Kathryn says:

    I think it is against the law to minionize your child until they are 15 and months away from driving. Congratulations on finishing that book!

  25. Karen says:

    :shimmy: :thumbsup: You’re the only one I can imagine that can finish a book and make 2 loaves of bread at the same time! You go girl! :clap:

  26. catslady says:

    Big congratulations on finishing! You truly amaze me. Even on an easy day I can’t imagine making homemade bread lol. And hello, Princess. I hope your learning all this nifty stuff from your mom :mrgreen:

  27. Egghead says:

    Woot! Finish line. Now on to eat that lovely bread. Oh and work on making princess into your minion. There’s something said for being the momma momma.

  28. Sasha White says:

    I suggest learn candles first. That’s the way I did it. LOL I learned how to make candles, then soap and bath salts, and fun bath bombs, y’know the ones that fizz when you drop them in. :yes:

  29. Amy Addison says:

    I’m so glad the dough worked! Georgia’s right, you never can tell.

    FYI, In the event you ever forget the yeast again, let the dough rest for about ten minutes, pinch off 1-1/2 to 2″ balls of dough, roll them out in a flat circle and cook them in a lightly oiled fry pan until done. Depending on the thickness, these will either be tortillas or flat bread. Baker’s choice.

    I’d want to learn how to make soap first. Not a big candle fan.

  30. Amy Addison says:

    Oh, just read the updated comment: YAY ON FINISHING!

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