Friday, December 16, 2011

Where I Explain How Sewing is Like Writing...and How it's Not

by Cheri Chesley

This week is the only week I've had a chance to work on the dolls I wanted to make for my girls for Christmas. So, EVERYTHING else has been put on hold. I mean, literally. Last night we had canned food for dinner. Even though I have to put the project away before they come home, it takes so much out of me that I'm basically exhausted for the rest of the night.

I think, as writers, we all have or have had a project that consumes us. A friend of mine has been writing a book secretly and it has her so sucked in she doesn't even take food breaks. She's almost done, writing at that feverish pace.

Sewing these dolls has taught me about writing. Because I basically liken everything else in my life to my writing aspirations.

One--there is a pattern, and it's most helpful to stick to it.

Two--there will be times when you will likely feel in over your head, and definitely feel out of your depth. You may even HATE the project while working on it.

Three--You will make mistakes, and you will not be able to gloss over them. You will have to fix them. **Case in point, sewing the legs on backward. Even though they were double stitched and involved an impossible contortionistic maneuver to even sew in the first place, you will HAVE to fix that or the baby's rear end will be where the belly should be, and it looks so wrong.

Now, here's where writing and sewing differ:

One--With sewing, you should fix the problems as you come across them. You don't want to finish the project in a "first draft" phase just to take it apart and fix it later. **Case in point, I was NOT about to stuff those dolls and then try to fix the backward legs.

Two--Patterns are great for sewing. Structure is essential for writing. I can't follow the pattern of Harry Potter or Twilight in my writing and expect that level of success. With sewing, the pattern they give me in the package will only help me if I use it.

Three--It's a sewing machine, for crying out loud, not a keyboard. The sewing machine will likely give you more impulses to curse than the keyboard. Maybe. **Case in point, when I sit down to my keyboard and type, words show up on the screen. When I sit down at the sewing machine to sew, sometimes there was as much backtracking as progress. Ugh. And I won't tell you how many times the stupid fabric snagged.

Finally, I will close with this similarity: both sewing dolls for my daughters and writing books are labors of love. And, oddly, I am experiencing a similar issue with handing my girls their dolls that I have when I send my books out into the world. They won't always treat them with care. They won't look after them or appreciate them as much as I would hope. I know not everyone who reads one of my books is going to love it. I'm just hoping, considering how much of my own near literal blood went into these dolls, my girls will at least appreciate the sentiment.

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