Yesterday I had a cheese sandwich—the BEST cheese sandwich I've ever had in my entire life. Not grilled cheese, mind you. I was at this fancy deli with all these pretty cheeses, and if you didn't know I'm kind of a cheese fan. Like, as a teen my friends called me Cheesegoddess, since I haven't met a cheese I didn't like.
So I ask the lady how big their cheese platter was, because I really just wanted to experience some of that beautiful cheese. She said it wasn't really a meal, but she could make me a special cheese sandwich that wasn't on the menu.
I am a fan on things not on the menu. They make me feel all cool and rebellious.
So I got my special sandwich—provolone, smoked gouda, and white cheddar, with lettuce, tomato and a little balsamic vinegar and olive oil for good measure. It was amazing. It sounds so simple, but the smoky gouda and the sharp cheddar cutting across that sweet balsamic? Genius. And the lettuce and tomato lightened what would otherwise be a rich set of cheeses. The combination was simple and yet perfect. So perfect that I went out late last night to buy the ingredients, just so I could have it again today.
It probably sounds weird, but this sandwich taught me something. Or rather, it reminded me that great things do not have to be complex. Great food is often simple and pure, and this is the same for many arts. Yes, I'm so relating this cheese sandwich to writing. Yes, this sandwich SPOKE TO ME. I really, REALLY like cheese. Deal with it.
Sometimes I try to make writing so much harder than it is. Sometimes I dig for the most complex solution when that perfect, simple cheese sandwich answer is right there in front of me. But the more I write, the more I discover that the simplest solution is most oftentimes the best. Stories don't have to have a million ingredients to be GOOD.
Don't get me wrong, I love me those fancy sandwiches with three different meats and two cheeses and veggies and grilled onions and french fries and avocado all rolled into one glorious handheld food masterpiece. BUT. That doesn't mean something simple is any less amazing or satisfying.
I think at times I get so focused on what my writing doesn't have—no onion rings! no Russian dressing! no pastrami!—that I forget just how perfectly well that balsamic and smoked gouda go together. And it's not so much about how many ingredients I have, but how I put them together that counts.