THE CAULDRON, or The Importance Of Carefully Selecting Thine Soup Pot

Before you start cooking, you get everything ready. You get out your ingredients, and check through them all carefully: making sure you are fully prepared for this nutritious endeavor!

Yet, very crucial to all of this is what you cook in. By jove, you wouldn’t fix stew in a pot that had yet to be cleaned from the last batch of chili you had made, would you? Well, I seriously hope you wouldn’t. Cause that would taste weird. All depending on the kind of stew, of course. Not to mention the kind of chili.

So please, enter with me into the storage room. The storage room, you ask? Whyever for? To select our pot! But a storage room? Don’t you just keep them under the stove? Well. I suggested that to Alphonse, but he promptly laughed me to scorn for thinking I could keep all the story cauldrons under a teeny weeny little stove top in a equally teeny weeny cabinet. Yeah. He was right of course. Not enough room. So. Behind the stove is the storage room. And to there we now adjourn from the kitchen.

Here, upon racks, hang row after row of cauldrons and pans. Glittering and shining, dark and well worn. Small and large. Stainless steel and cast iron, side by side. Here rest every possible thing you could ever desire to create a masterful soup, as far as the vessel in which the dish we shall prepare goes.

But why does it matter? Well. How are you planning on telling your story? What methods do you plan on using? What WORLD will you use to convey your tale?

You see, writing isn’t so simple as to sit down and just begin spinning your tale.

And neither can you prepare just some soup in just SOME random pan. For one, size is a key factor. Not to mention, some burn faster than others, and some even give a different taste to the food (cast iron skillets, for instance, come first to mind).

So. Will you choose the Black Cauldron in which to prepare your soup? (made VERY famous by Lloyd Alexander.) Or something different? Perhaps a simple stainless steel pan will suffice. Not small, yet not large. After all, if this is a story that is in the next town over, maybe you don’t need a large pot in which to boil up a whole entire new world.

Then again, maybe you need a pressure cooker in which to compile all the things of this real world into a form that the human mind can accept and understand, and not be horrified by the brutality of truth.

So. Choose carefully what pan you will cook with. Each story TYPE can be told in ANY world. But each STORY only belongs to one, and that, my friends, is why you must consider the pots and pans before you, and look at them with diligence and care.

Now, before someone goes and accuses me of not considering Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, or Choices, by L.E.R. Jenkins, or the Door Within, by W.T. Batson, or any other such novel, in which more than one world is involved. Well. Allow me a moment to shed the uses of the Story Soup analogy, and say straight forward of what I speak. I do not speak of worlds, such as Narnia and Earth, Alleble, and the Lands Beyond, etc. I speak of the STORY WORLD. If you will… the *genre*.

So. Consider — your story — the options. Weigh carefully. And choose with wisdom thine soup pot.

THE BLACK CAULDRON, or The Great Pot Of Various Ingredients That Shall Become Story Soup

Your first reaction, will, most likely, be that of incredulous surprise. Indeed. However, please do not simply turn away, but do read on.

First, I must say that I received this concept from a friend… Well. More specifically. That friend’s typo. And it has stuck in my head. And so. I shamelessly shall continue down the path this typo has taken me. Thank you, friend! *hugs friend* (you can remain anonymous or not. Your choice. 😉 )

Now. Let us begin!

Shall we create a masterpiece together? Will you join me and create some delicious morsel with which to appease the appetite of the mind? For if you wish to feed the imagination, the soup must be a great one.

Into the kitchen we go, bravely we shall face it; one of the deadliest battlefields known to mankind. For here we create sustenance for this, our mortal frame. It is a cold world, and so, without much thought, we know what we desire. Soup. Yes, indeed, soup. For soup soothes, and soup warms. And there are so many different kinds of soup, each able to reflect your mood, your personality, able to warm your aching bones as you curl in front of the fireplace, and soothe your weary body. This… this is soup my friends. And I dare not attempt to further describe it, as I verily know I could never begin to do this luxurious food justice.

But before I begin, what am I speaking of? What, pray tell, is this Black Cauldron, this thing, this Great Pot Of Various Ingredients That Shall Become Story Soup? What is this so called “Story Soup”?

It is, very simply, just that. A story. A book. A movie. A poem. Soup, if you will, for the soul. Chicken and noodles may indeed feed our physical forms, but it is words and ideas that feed our souls. Our passions.

Now to begin. We are in the kitchen. Do you have an assistant? I do. His name happens to be Alphonse. He is very good with spices, and always knows just what needs to be added, or what needs to be taken out. (Yes INDEED we have special soup; for we can remove ingredients even after they have been added!) Alphonse’s official title is usually “Inner Editor” but today, he is “Inner le Chef”. He places on his lofty white hat, and we are ready. First things first. We need a pot. Yes. A pot. A cauldron. A pan, I say! Shall we cook soup without something in which to hold it? Verily, t’would be a messy meal.

Carefully, with much deliberation, we choose our pot. A nice big one. Who knows how many we might be cooking for, after all. And we must be prepared for however many guests arrive.

It is clean, of course, but we wash the pot before beginning anyway. It mustn’t just be clean. But spotless. Not even a watermark. Alphonse always amuses himself by making faces at his own portrait in the bottom of the pot.

Now we have our pot on the stove. It is time to choose what kind of soup we will be making!

What is first? Eh? Well. We shall begin with our broth! Shall it be watery? Thick? Creamy? Tomato based? There are many options. But this is a simple soup we are making this time. Simple, yet great. Alphonse hands me the chicken broth, and I pour it in.

And then on to ingredients. Carrots are chopped, and chicken prepared. Celery, noodles, spices brought down from the cabinet. Alphonse makes a face as I chop up an onion. The smell makes him cry, but he doesn’t say a word. He knows those tears are important.

With care we put in each ingredient, stirring our soup. Salt, pepper. Garlic. One by one each thing we have prepared makes its way into the pot.

It doesn’t take long for the soup to be done. We taste it every few moments. We add some ingredients. We even take some out. But at last, the soup is done.

This is just the beginning. Do you wish to know what I mean by all this? Do you want to know what comes next after we finish our pot? Perhaps I mislead you, for we are far from done with our soup. For this is just the start.

The secrets of the soup are many. Shall we look at them together?