” In a pickle” – To be in a pickle is to find oneself in a difficult position. It seems that in 1611, Shakespeare was the first to use the actual phrase “in a pickle” in The Tempest, although the references to “ill pickles” and “this pickle” can be traced back to the 1500s or even earlier. Some of the info I read said the word pickle first referred to the spices or concoctions that did the pickling instead of to the vegetables such as cucumbers that were pickled.
So now you know more than you probably ever wanted to know about the origin of “in a pickle.” But I enjoy finding out why we say the things we do. Plus when you’re a writer of historical fiction, you need to make sure you don’t use a phrase that wasn’t in common usage at the time of your story. Used to be the answers were harder to find, but now the internet pops up dozens of answers to the origin of “in a pickle.” Today your problem is knowing which internet site or information to believe. That can put you in a pickle.
I’m thinking about pickles because I made some pickles last weekend. Well, I finished up making the pickles. These are 21 day pickles. It never fails that when I first put my cucumbers in the brine to begin the 3 week process that the end time comes when I’m extra busy and don’t have time for pickles. That’s the way it was this weekend with my granddaughters visiting and then me having to go stay with Mom after they went home. So these pickles are 22 or maybe 23 day pickles. But they taste fine. I just boiled the vinegar pickling solution to pour over them a couple of extra times.
Pickles aren’t the only thing I think I’ll have plenty of time for when I set out to make them. Books can be that way too. I’m in a give-my-storytelling-brain-a-break time right now. But I’m going to have to jump into research and writing again very soon. First I’ll have to work through the galleys of Words Spoken True and I’ll be sure to have editorial fixes for The Gifted. Then I’ll be looking forward to that deadline for my next story that is months away, but the older I get the more I realize how fast those months spin by.
I am not a writer who can push out a story in a few weeks. I know writer friends who are able to do that. They can write a book over a long weekend or in a couple of weeks. My brain doesn’t seem to work that way. I have to let my creative well fill and sometimes the story seeps in very slow. Of course my friends have been letting their story seep into their minds before they begin the actual writing process. But I have to dip my story out of the well and then let the story water seep back in. Very rarely do the scenes rush in at least until the last few chapters.
So generally – because I have an obviously inflated opinion of how quickly that well will fill – I end up in a pickle and find myself wanting to add a few more months to my deadline.
This last deadline was a rough one since I’ve been having to sit with Mom and don’t have that alone time my creative thinking needs. My sister was sympathizing with me and said, “That sounds like work.” And writing is work, but it’s work I love doing even when I get myself in a deadline pickle.
Have you ever gotten yourself in a pickle? Thanks for reading.