Monday, November 13, 2023

Quilters and Writers

I have been immersed in quilting since Wednesday afternoon.  It has been strange to resurface, strange to do other things.  I've gotten my reading responses done for tonight's seminary class.  I've thought about other writing that I haven't been doing, the writing that always slips to the bottom of my to do list when I have a chance to immerse myself in a retreat.

I've also been thinking about poets and quilters, wondering if there are similarities to what I've seen and experienced.  At the risk of talking in huge generalities, let me muse a bit.

--I am a person making it up as I go along.  I'm more in love with the fabric than with the quilting process.  I create quilts because it gives me a reason to collect fabric, but then I have to do something with it.  Once I might have thought about making a living with this art--even more reason to collect fabrics!  But now, I'm happy to be in my own corner of the world.

The same is true of writing.  Once I wanted to make a living with my writing, and if it should happen, I won't complain.  But I want to do the writing I want to do, not what is likely to sell in the wider world.

--This week-end, I've watched many quilters working from kits.  Not only do the kits come with instructions and pictures, but they also come with pre-cut fabric.  There are designers out there that not only design the finished quilt, but they also design the fabrics.

I look at the pictures that come with the kit, and I think, no, I'd do it this way.  Nope, that color choice is all wrong.

In the writing world, the kit might represent an MFA program or a literary journal--that hope that there's one way to do things, that we can unlock that one way if we go to the right school and get the right publications.

--I've thought about how much I get done on my quilts, if I can go on a retreat where I have space to spread out, where I can leave things spread out, where others are doing the food prep/cooking/clean up for me, where I arrive at the Faith center at 6:30 a.m., and I could stay until late at night.

The benefit of an MFA program or residency could be having this kind of time to devote to one's writing craft.

--In both worlds, some of us are enamored of rules to the point that we don't even realize how much we are in love with rules.  We think of them not as rules but as TRUTH.  For example, I think about how quilters will tell us that we must quilt so often per square inch so that the quilt holds together, but that's simply not true.  We talk about whether or not we must wash the fabric first, and which way to iron.  But maybe we don't have to wash the fabric first or iron.

There are so many similar approaches to rules in the writing world, and even more if one wants to be a writer who publishes in traditional ways--so many that I won't even attempt to name them.

--Quilters and Writers would make a great name for a bookstore/cafe/pub.  But it's also shorthand for many creative folks, and the ways that one type often looks down on another type.  Is it art or is it craft?  In the end, I think it doesn't matter.  If the activity feeds your soul, it's good enough.

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