There’s a blanket on my bed I made seven years ago. When I started it, I didn’t really know what it was going to wind up looking like. I experimented with different colors and made a plan–the results of which I was very pleased. It was fun to watch the blanket come together, and I can still see that learning/growing part of myself tangled in its threads.
When you’re learning to do something and you have passion for the subject, you breathe life into your work. Put a few years into something, and you risk losing touch with that creative spark–that is–if you don’t make an effort to approach what you are doing from a new angle and keep an open mind.
Case in point, I decided to put together another granny square blanket. Having completed the first blanket, I thought it would be a snap. I planned it all ahead of time–picking the yarn and drawing a diagram. There was no room left for experimentation, and though this blanket I’m piecing together now isn’t ugly…it’s not alive. Perhaps I should’ve ditched the granny squares or blankets altogether and made–I don’t know–a wicked awesome hat with one of those giant pom-poms to smack me in the face when I walked down the street. That, although dumb, would’ve been more exciting.
The same principle applies to writing. Writers each have their own “process,” but if the book I’m writing now is any indication, that process needs to be flexible. It would be nice to be able to plan everything out ahead of time, but I’m sure that is seldom the case with even the most seasoned authors. I go through a long developing stage before I sit down to actually draft, but even then I find myself changing, changing, changing.
“Wouldn’t it be better if…”
“This part isn’t working…”
“Oh, I know. I’ll…”
“Cat! Get off the keyboard!”
Every new book is a new baby, and it’s our job as writers to give that baby what it needs. My current baby would rather set fire to my scene cards than use them. She coos when I begin writing off track into something completely different and, incidentally, better. Hmm.
Michelle Joyce Bond
P.S. My apologies for the second bad, cliché, book-is-a-baby metaphor. Can’t help myself. 🙂
By the way writers, how is your book baby coming along? Is he/she being fussy or is everything coming together as planned?