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A Writing How To: How To Clean Your Oven

This is a blog about writing. If you’re a new arrival you may need that pointed out to you after this post and if you’re a current fan you may need reassurance you’re still at the same place. But, like I said, this is a writing blog and as such I’m going to talk today about something extremely important: How to Clean an Oven.

See, I moved recently and, like many, when I moved I had to make sure my apartment was clean or the management company would bleed me dry in fees and charges. Therefore, one of the things I had to clean was my oven. I’m sure many of you have had to do this chore. It’s a standard moving chore. And it’s a pain. I’ve done it every time I move and every time I vow that I’m going to try and clean my oven once a week, or once a month maybe, so that when I have to clean the damned thing for moving it won’t be such a pain. I invariably fail to keep this particular vow.

This time my oven was very bad. I’d had an accident with a frozen pizza a month or so before that hadn’t been cleaned up properly so it was caked and burnt everywhere. The fine mottled blue finish of my oven’s interior could not be seen in any but the most remote and protected of places on the door.

It was a mess.

Now nearly everyone cleans an oven the same way: Oven cleaner, a scrub brush or Brillo pad, maybe gloves and a mask, and an economy sized tub of elbow grease.grease

<Photo by: ibosocial.com>

Cleaning an oven this way can take forever. It is one of the worst chores involved in moving.

This time, when I moved, I tried a different approach. I figured ‘what the hell’ I was moving anyway. I still used the oven cleaner. I emptied a full can of it into my oven, covering every surface in thick, heavy, and noxious foam. And then, I walked my dog.

We took a nice long walk around the neighborhood, giving the oven cleaner almost a full hour to work. When I got back I slipped on goggles, gloves, and a face mask for the fumes. When I was sufficiently armored I attacked. Not with a Brillo pad, or even steel wool as I had done in the past. Instead I struck out with a heavy metal putty knife.

I was careful not to put too much strength behind it. I didn’t want to scratch the finish, but I let the sharp edge and the heavy metal do the work for me, scraping away at untold horrors of caked on oven crap. It took me about twenty minutes to removed the build-up from my oven, which left me only with the extremely tough to remove baked on grease stains. Since it had worked so well the first time I tried the same tactic. I covered it with oven cleaner and went on another walk with my dog. This second walk was more for me. The fumes from the oven cleaner were particularly potent in a small and unventilated area like my oven.

This time when I got back I re-armored, but instead of taking up my putty knife once more I tightened a wire brush into my cordless drill and went to town. Stiff bristles whirling at untold miles per hour do a hell of a great job in breaking up and cleaning off baked on grease and grime. The final finish of my oven was a final polish of the cracks with the aforementioned Brillo pad and I was done. Total work time was less than an hour and my oven looked great. I’ve never had an easier time of cleaning one.


<Photo courtesy of clarketooling.co.uk>

Now. I can hear most of you saying something along the lines of: “That’s great, Ty. Glad you were able to get that done. What the hell does any of that have to do with writing?”

Quite a lot actually. (And I don’t appreciate your tone.)

One thing all writers have in common, no matter what we write, is that we all have to deal with everyday situations. The chores of writing, if you will. Our characters eat, sleep, walk, maybe drive, etc, all the time. It is just something that happens in the world. On top of that, not every single scene can be something breathtaking. There are guaranteed downtimes and we need to find a way to deal with them.

Our job as storytellers is to find new ways of dealing with ordinary situations. We can either sit with a bucket of elbow grease five miles wide and tell our readers the same things they’ve heard every other time they’ve picked up a book, or we can grab a drill and a dog and maybe show them something different.

Now different isn’t always going to work. Some times there are really good reasons why something is done the same way time and again, but you’ll never know until you try.