Bread and Cupcakes

13 April 2018

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

I’m allergic to dairy. It’s one of the many allergies that sent me to Vegas. In Lincoln City, restaurants didn’t understand that no dairy meant no butter, no milk products, no cheese. The restaurants would often scrap off the offending item if they accidentally mixed it into my food, not caring about cross-contamination. Between that and my perfume allergy, I was no longer able to eat in any restaurant in the city by December.

So Vegas has been wonderful. When I say “allergy,” a restaurant here snaps to. They get it, because the competition for customers is so severe that everyone lives and dies by their Yelp reviews. One allergy screw-up and a restaurant is out of business. It’s been absolute heaven for me—except for bread.

I can’t find good dairy-free bread anywhere. I find some in grocery stores, but that bread is…mediocre at best.

So today, I was at my new haunt, the vegan bakery that supplies vegan desserts to half the restaurants in the city, and has fueled my sweet tooth since I moved here. I asked the owner if they made bread. They did not, although, she told me, every restaurant they do business with will buy dairy-free and gluten-free breads if they would provide it.

“You should!” I said with great enthusiasm.

“Oh, we can’t,” she said, looking tired. “We’re already doing too much as it is. We simply can’t take on any more.”

I get it. I really do.

Her bakery is so good that her clients want more. Not just more of what she already makes but more items. There’s a market, and they know she would fulfill that market with integrity, and it would add to the restaurants’ bottom line.

But she can’t.

Because they’re moderating growth.

It’s sensible. It really is. If you’re good at what you do, you will end up with more work than you can do.

When Dean and I started Pulphouse Publishing a hundred years ago, and people asked us for more of this and more of that, we worked hard to supply it. We hired more people, rearranged the business half a dozen times, and grew and grew and grew.

The problem with that was that the money didn’t grow and grow and grow with it. Accounts receivable grew, because our clients had 90 days to pay us, and often took 120 before we got too pissy.

The fact that the money didn’t arrive for nearly four months meant we were always running behind. It was a treadmill at top speed. It felt like we were going somewhere, but if we stopped moving, we would careen backwards and hit the wall.

. . . .

Writers get into this same situation. I’m in it right now. I’m getting settled from the move. I can finally see what life here in Vegas will be like. I know how Lincoln City will continue to factor in, and I know where I’ll be when. It no longer feels chaotic.

I’m still organizing my writing, revisiting deadlines and figuring out what I can do with my entire research library in boxes. And as I’ve been doing this, and I’m realizing just how much better I’m feeling, which is bringing hours back into the day, projects have reared their abandoned heads and asked, What about me? You haven’t thought of me for years.

I’m interested. I really am. I want to revive the old projects, do the work that fans are writing me and asking for, get a few projects done before any film/TV starts shooting (three possible at the moment), and explore some new ideas that have come up in the last year.

. . . .

A very real factor is time. There’s the time it will take me to write something, the time it will take me to rebuild my knowledge of a world I haven’t written in for a while, the time it’ll take to research something I want to write about.

But the bigger factor is the treadmill. I’m feeling better now. We’re having to look at the overall schedule for all of the businesses, given the changes my health has caused, so this is the perfect time to redo all of our plans.

If we’re going to add anything—if I’m going to add anything—the time is now. Just like this is the perfect time to delete something as well.

But we have to be really cautious. Because the biggest mistake we can make—as a business and I can make as a writer—is to work at the very edge of my productivity. Not the bottom edge, but the top edge, where every waking moment is spent on words or a deadline or something for the business.

. . . .

The quality won’t necessarily go down (although it might), but enjoyment will and there’s no reason to do this profession if it’s not fun.

That look on the bakery owner’s face was cautionary for me as I’m slowly returning to the land of the living. That frustration combined with the knowledge that taking the slower road, doing less and keeping the business alive, was the better choice—that look. I’ve experienced it.

But I’ve also fallen backwards off a treadmill (metaphorically and in real life), and it’s not something I want to do again.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like the thoughts Kris shares, you can show your appreciation by checking out her books.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch, The Business of Writing

3 Comments to “Bread and Cupcakes”

  1. Sounds like someone else should start the bakery; the market is already there. But they are wise not to attempt biting off what they can’t chew.

  2. The comments on KKR’s article mention some kosher brands she should look at too.

  3. Kris, Don’t forget matzo, challa, and pita. No dairy!

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