"With so much reading ahead of you, the temptation might be to speed up. But in fact it's essential to slow down and read every word . . . Every page was once a blank page, just as every word that appears on it now was not always there, but instead reflects the final result of countless large and small deliberations."
Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer
Flour and water, if mixed together and left alone, will grow. The mixture gorges on the air, quietly expanding as you sleep. It outgrows its container, spilling over the edge - too much starter, hungry starter, enough starter to feed a city on bread alone.
I sometimes knead dough to avoid writing. Words, unlike bread starter, resist growth. They defy form. Left unattended, words spoil. When I bake, I follow a sequence of precise measurements. When I write, I whack the air, blindfolded, until happy shrieks confirm that I have hit the pinata (and, I pray, not a child).
To borrow from Justice Stewart, we avoid words with the excuse, "I know it when I see it." I have many wishes for the new year, but most of all, I wish for a year of better words.