square chocolate chip cookies


My Gramma used to make square chocolate chip cookies. They were her signature fare. No matter how many changes life brought my way, I could always count on that covered dish of cookies waiting for me on her kitchen table.

I remember lifting the lid many a time, peeking in and trying not be too obvious about choosing the one that had the most chips.  There they were, nestled together—golden-brown, sweet-smelling and tender—bending slightly, each with a corner or two thrown over the back of another.  And they were always square.

Most cookies are round.  But not my Gramma’s. When she scooped up cookie dough she didn’t just use a little spoon.  No, she reached for a big spoon and pulled up big globs of dough and smiled as she dropped them onto the scratched-up cookie sheets she’d used for years.  It didn’t occur to her to fuss and fret over the way they spread out and overtook the pan, melting into each other’s sides.

That’s the way she took to cooking everything.  I loved standing on a chair so I could watch her scooping up heaps of soft, white flour using an old chipped cup. She would never have given serious thought to spooning it into a measuring cup and leveling it off with a knife.  Some of the best food I’ve ever eaten owed its goodness to a pinch of this and a little shake of that stirred together under a keen eye that could sense when things looked just right.

When I look at how I approach life—particularly writing— these days, it seems I’ve left that inner sense behind.  That knowing of when it’s just right, when it’s pleasing to the ear. Maybe I’ve been spending too much time looking to others who seem to have it all figured out.  As I compare my square cookies to their perfectly round ones—served up on fine china, no less—I feel like what I have to offer falls miserably short.

And so, I agonize and over-think every sentence as minutes turn to hours, and I come to the end of the day with little to show for my struggle.  Little more than a gut pulled up tight under my ribs and a half-written piece with the life and light wrung completely out of it.

I think it’s time to get back to writing the way I used to—the way Gramma cooked.
She didn’t seem bound by the rules of a neatly coiffed Betty Crocker or concerned with emulating the gourmet creations of Julia Child.  Gramma had something special inside that trusted a quick taste kissed off the tip of her finger with a sweet, little mmm-mmpt.

Square cookies, anyone?


Liked “Square Chocolate Chip Cookies?”

You may enjoy this quick, but fun read–

“Of Plates and Silver Spiders”


19 Comments Add yours

  1. L.L. Barkat says:

    Love the squares. Okay, love chocolate chip cookies in any shape! 🙂

    1. Me too.
      ‘Enjoyed your blogpost today.
      Thanks for stopping in!

  2. Shannon says:

    Wonderfully said! I think I’ve reached a similar conclusion about parenting… at some point I stopped trusting my intuition and began studying what “all the other parents” do. When that happened, I found myself feeling a great deal more stress and enjoying my kids – and life in general – a lot less. I’m slowly relearning what I knew a while ago, when my oldest was a baby and before parenting became a public endeavor for me: that I’m the only one who knows exactly how to be *my* kids’ mom. And since you’re the only one who can tell your story, it is guaranteed to turn out just right, no matter how you do it.

    1. I hear you on the parenting front! Amazing how competitive it has become. The happiest kids I know are the ones with real people for parents who aren’t trying to be anyone else…or outdo anyone else. Keep on being you!

  3. Beautifully written, Mari. I love the picture you painted for me. It reminded me of the cornbread my grandmother made for me anytime I visited her. The good kind with bacon grease! Anyway, I also love the analogy here. Isn’t it amazing how much we compare ourselves with others. It’s human nature, and I’ve seen it with writers (myself included) a great deal. I’m starting edits on my current MS, and I’m going to say here what I will tell myself every day – We can’t compare ourselves to others. We must learn from those who seem to have it all figured out, but then trust in our own inner voice. Something tells me that those who seem to have it all figured out go through the same inner struggle, or at least did at some point.

    Have a great weekend!

    1. Heather, ‘Glad to share this story with you. Gramma’s are great, esp. ones who don’t forget the little things…like bacon grease in corn bread! Comparison…it sure opens the door to fear and self-doubt, doesn’t it.

      I love the Internet, the way it has opened the way for me to read what other people are learning…and get to know other writers. But, for a couple of weeks I’d been reading other people’s blogs and feeling like I would never write the way they do. I was journaling about this self-doubt stuff and it helped me to see that my insecurity was not only fueled by fear, but also envy, in disguise. This post came as I was emerging with a desire to give that up and enjoy being me while truly appreciating what God’s doing in other writers’ lives.

      I enjoyed your surfing post. It was a lovely reminder to be patient and to embrace working where we are while keeping that desire to go further alive.

  4. Oh, girl. You just stick to your square-cookie writing style, OK? There are lots of folks out there doing circles. Stick to those squares. Love it.

    So, so nice. It’s a pleasure to meet you, ma’am.

    1. Hi Jennifer, Good to hear from you! Thanks for your encouragement, it means a lot to me.

  5. Linda says:

    Mari, I’m a little late coming to this, but so glad I did. I needed this reminder. Isn’t it funny that I’ve blogged about this same thing, but still forget? When I first came to your blog, I was enthralled with your voice. Don’t change it for anyone. It’s original, it’s passionate, it’s inspiring. It’s your beautiful soul in words.

    1. Linda, I appreciate your visits–whether early, late or anywhere in between! Ah yes, it would be terribly boring if we gave up who are to strive to sound like someone else. It’d be as ridiculous as answering my phone trying to sound like Oprah or Bono or some other million dollar voice! So next post, you can count on another story in no other voice than the one God is unfurling in me.

      Thank you for your affirmation and encouragement around every corner of this artist’s journey.

  6. Anita says:

    Yes!! Square cookies, square writing…it all sounds good! I’m just about to jump into a three page paper and that was the perfect thing to read before I begin. Thank you SweetMariMari! Thanks too for your comment over at Mud and Coffee. Excellent writing there, too. I appreciate you giving your testimony of His touch.

    1. Anita, I’m happy you stopped in! (I think of your Twitter wisdom every time I look at my shower curtain hanging there like an awkward kid in high-water pants…it hasn’t made it to the towel bar by the sink yet!) I was happy to find your blog through your “touching” show of sympathy =). ‘Hope your paper is coming along nicely! Love the way your heart shines through in your writing.

  7. nAncY says:

    sounds like you learned a lot while watching your grandma.

    1. Hi nAncY, So glad you found your way over from Twitter. I enjoy following you…We seem share a love for the beauty of words–and painting pictures in a poetic way.

      You might enjoy the first mention of Gramma on my blog…and the pictures painted there. It’s the one called “of plates and silver spiders.” Link: http://tinyurl.com/ykmwora

      Thanks for coming by, nAncY.

  8. Kelsey says:

    Nicely said! I will take a square cookie please!

    1. Help yourself…and take a few extra for the kiddos! ‘Enjoyed your blog (loved the broken crayons post)…I’m happy you stopped in, Kelsey!

  9. Teri says:

    Mari-My friend Amy Stoller told me about your blog a while ago. I’m a writer also and I’ve been going through a serious funk. This post was so encouraging to me. I’ve often lost my own voice in my writing because I’m too worried about how someone else might write or edit my work. Thanks for reminding us writers to stick with the voice God has given us. He will fine tune us in His own time. Also, this blog is bursting with graciousness. From the follow-up you give to each comment, to your own writing. Keep it up!

    1. Teri, I’m really glad you stopped by. You may be in a funk, but you still identify yourself as a writer. That’s a good sign! What an honor it is to carry this title as we’ve been given an uncommon gift.

      I’ll be praying that you’ll find that this challenging time is actually holy unrest that God is using to lead you into a new place. [Isaiah 43:19] Sometimes we see struggle as failure, when really it’s actually the process by which God transforms us into what He longs us to be.

      You may find “afraid to let go” and “out of the basement” encouraging, too. For only you can tell your stories, Teri, only you!

      1. To find them…just click on “overcoming fear” in the tag cloud

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