Today is the birthday of John Steinbeck, one of my favorites, who said: "The writer must believe that what he is doing is the most important thing in the world. And he must hold to this illusion even when he knows it is not true."
As a writer, I know this is true. But I'm not acting like it. If it's the most important thing in the world, then why am I not sitting down and tippy-tapping out delightful words for eight hours a day?
(As aside -- wouldn't the world be a much lovelier place if everyone believed that the work that they do -- whether for salary or not -- is the most important thing in the world?)
Stuff gets in the way. Some days, the work I get paid for seems to be the most important thing in the world. Some days, it's finishing a quilt or a pair of socks. (!) And some days, the most important things in the world to me are sitting on the couch watching TV with Clay or baking a German Chocolate birthday cake. Some days, I don't think I am cut out for this writing thing.
And writing can be discouraging. Our book, Escaped With Honor, is now in the substantive edit process. What this means is that everything we have worked so hard on for the last year and a half -- every paragraph, sentence and word -- has been picked apart and reshaped by a kind but persnickety editor. I had my first good cry in months (not counting Silver Linings Playbook) when I saw our first edited chapter.
(When I taught English 101/102 at Akron U., we were asked not to use red pen in grading essays, as it was discouraging and looked as if we had bled all over our students' work. I never before realized how true that was.)
I said some not-very-nice words.
And then, I re-read the chapter with the edits. Shit. It was so much better.
Since my goal is getting a book into Chuck's hands ASAP, I'm drying my tears and waiting on the next chapters. His book might not be the most important thing in the world to everyone, but it is to him. And right now, that makes it the most important thing in the world to me, too.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
This was a fun little quilt I made for a friend's charity auction. Unfortunately, I was a little tardy getting it to him (they had a catalog of auction items already made up) -- I could save it for him for next year, but I think I will gift this one, and make him another. As long as I don't forget and wait until the last minute!
I saw this rubric (rubric? That's probably not the right term -- what is the right term?) on another quilter's blog, and thought it was a great idea.
Pattern: Well, that's a good question. Jenny, from the Missouri Star Quilt Company calls it "The Amazing Jelly Roll Quilt Pattern by 3 Dudes," as the technique was shared with her from the guys at 3 Dudes. It's a fun construction with jelly rolls strips; I had watched her video on the Jelly Roll Race quilt, and then watched the video for this pattern. (You should watch her videos -- she is a lot of fun to watch.)
But I think I might call it "Paris Wife", since that's what I listened to while working on it. (More on The Paris Wife in the March Book Report post.)
Finished Size: 48'x48"
Fabrics: Moda Cherry On Top jelly roll, some random white sashing and backing I found on my workroom shelves. Binding was made from some random pink cotton.
Pieced and quilted by: me
Dates: Started and completed in February, 2013.
Here is one of the blocks, looking a little pink around the edges -- my quilt photography isn't getting much better, but I think my machine quilting is improving. A little bit.
And the back, with a strip of leftovers:
It does look better in the sun, but I somehow didn't even notice that big shadow until I downloaded the pictures. So, in addition to a machine quilting class, I think I need a photography class as well.
Sewing injury. For the first time in my life, I sewed through my finger. Actually, through my fingernail.
I was trying to maneuver the fabric through the machine at a junction of several seams, and it wasn't cooperating, so I pushed a little harder. I was so shocked, I forgot to curse.
It's fine -- it really didn't hurt very long at all. In fact, I'm sort of proud of this battle scar -- I won over both the quilt and the machine!
Monday, February 4, 2013
While I was working on my auction projects, I listened to The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. (yes, I did once think that listening to books was "cheating", but I was wrong: listening A) lets you do two things at once, B) gives you a different perspective on the novel through the emphasis of the reader and C) clears up any pronunciation problems you might have just reading. You know what I mean -- since no one ever said the word at my house growing up, I thought "penis" rhymed with "tennis." Now the question is, what books were I reading that had that word in them? A dirty little western romance passed around on the school bus and The Happy Hooker when I babysat the neighbor kids. Their mom was so cool.)
In the same tradition as The Girl with the Pearl Earring and The Girl in Hyacinth Blue, this book focuses on the ballet girls familiar from Edgar Degas paintings and sculpture. It's the story of the three van Goethem sisters who, after their father dies and their mother turns her sorrows to the absinthe bottle, survive however they can -- as ballet girls at the Paris Opera, modeling, working in the wash house and prostitution. It's rough, but a great story based on historical fact -- I love that, and so respect the authors who put so much time and effort into creating just the right world for their story. Plus, I love the chichi French accents of the readers (despite the fact that one of the readers also read the fiendish Amy Elliot Dunn sections of Gone Girl. Shiver.)
I am still working my way through The End of Your Life Bookclub, and toward that end, finished Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner. It's a lovely story about the long-lasting friendship between two couples. It's also the story about survival in the world of academia -- having married into a professor's family, all the publish/perish references and heartaches attached were familiar and true.
Up next, I'm going to work on another quilt and listen to The Aviator's Wife -- I'm a little anxious about this one, since I am a huge fan of Anne Morrow Lindbergh and Gift of the Sea. But I need to remember it's just a novel, right? And I am going to read Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund. Rather, I am going to TRY to read Ahab's Wife -- even though I tried again recently, I am not a Moby Dick fan, and as you know, I am not a fan of 822-page novels. Atlas Shrugged. Whatever.
PS Last month was the 200th Anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, which calls for a re-read, as if a call were necessary. But I've been thinking lately that Downton Abbey fans should read Sense and Sensiblility -- the legalities associated with the inheritance of a British estate are addressed in that book, and I know that is something we Americans have a little trouble understanding about DA.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Baby Jesus, done in the same manner, and wrapped with strips of Warm and Natural batting:
And here is this year's quilt. It's baby/little kid sized, about 40'x40", made with a bundle of fabric from Fabricworm, plus some of the Heather Bailey fabric I had left from Olivia's car seat cover. You might notice that there is one block in each color that has a strip of different fabric. Not exactly a design feature -- I measured poorly. But I think it came out cute, anyway.
Sharyn's Quilt Box in North Vernon.