Bad Jerky


A friend gave me about five pounds of venison after his family came through our garden and gleaned some tomatoes, peppers and cukes.  His three girls cleaned the blueberries right off the bushes and everyone had a great time.  Now, the meat had been in his freezer for nearly a year and the expiration date was looming.  Not having the resources to do much with it, he gave the meat to me and I immediately made plans for some stew and jerky.

The stew, made with a package of beef stew mix and forty minutes in the pressure cooker came out great.  Not the best stew in the world, but it was easy to make and quite filling.  The jerky was another story.

I checked out recipes and videos on the best way to make it and I tried to duplicate them but the first batch came out like charcoal briquettes.  Dry, brittle, charred bits of meat that belong in a slasher film.  Sure I ate a few pieces, and with barbeque sauce I could choke down a few more but I knew the batch was bad.  A second try yielded better results and the third one came darned close to the kind you get from the guy at work who goes hunting.

When I started cooking it I suspected the first batch would be bad.  I also knew that the following ones would get better.  I now have the confident that the next hunk of deer I get can be transformed into half-decent jerky.

When I begin to write a story, I always think the first version is going to be perfect.  When I post it to my alpha readers I expect praises and adulation for my genius.  They tell me the truth (and thank God they tell me the truth) I see my flaws and I can fix them.  The second draft is always better than the first and the third one is palatable for public consumption.

Real writers are rewriters.  We take an idea, a scene and we tell it three different ways until it works, until it is an image in the readers mind.  Readers no longer see words on paper but fall into the page and see the story like a movie.  That is when we know the recipe is right.  But sometimes that means starting out with bad jerky.