No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness. -Aristotle

You should never doubt what nobody is sure of. -Willy Wonka

In the end, we all become stories. -Margaret Atwood

It might be possible that the world itself is without meaning. -Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"

Sunday, March 21, 2010

One Thing

I can only do one thing effectively. Some say if you want to get good at writing, sewing, gardening, furniture making, upholstery, running, cooking, baking, hair styling, dog grooming, or even raising kids, you need to focus on that one thing and pretty much forsake all others. Others say the diversity of other interests either fuels or provides a necessary diversion to that one thing.

For me, the first is true – in order to excel at one thing that one thing needs to be my main focus.

I wanted to write a book because I’ve read so many excellent ones and I wanted to be that person. The truth is, I’m not a book writer, I’m a scene writer. I write great scenes but to carry enough of them through to the end of a novel is exhausting. Ideas announce themselves randomly and my life does not allow me to stop what I’m doing to write them down and when I can, I lose the intensity of the feeling and my excitement is lost.

The one thing I want to do and love to do involves fabric and thread. I love constructing cloth dolls, sewing their clothing, sewing clothes for babies and toddlers, making small quilts and quilted things and gifts from fabric. That is my main love. If I don’t have a needle in my hand daily, after the second day I get irritable or sad. I need to see the result of what I am doing. I need to watch those seams become a skirt and those paws become fingers and that blank face become a character. My fiction is three-dimensional. I know right away whether it is good or not, whether I need to rip out a seam or throw out a body and start over. I need to know that right away as I’ve discovered I have no patience or desire for future acknowledgement, I need to know now.

I am a writer, not a novelist. I’ve reread my journals enough to know that I can’t force my feet into someone else’s shoes because only mine fit. I happen to like my shoes, they are comfortable and serve me well. I might like your shoes but they won’t benefit me as much as they do you.

The premise is the same – be true to yourself. Don’t run away from who you are and don’t try to wear someone else’s shoes. They may look attractive but they are only going to pinch your feet and give you blisters, or make your feet smelly or be way too big. Why would you want that?

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