There’s no other place to put this, well, maybe within a journal entry, but somehow setting down words where no one else will see them seems…. Too still. Maybe some other writer or creative soul could use to read this post, or if nothing else, I need to state these sensations in a form more visible than a dust-covered, narrow-lined notebook. Sometimes these notions are too big for small mediums.
Two years ago I started what I assumed was going to be nothing more than a short story about a guy who…. Who changed, but then novels are usually about alterations, whether character-based or locale diversions or whatever the author feels needs to addressed. Blithely I began unspooling a single skein of fictional yarn, taking breaks here and there to revise. To my slight surprise, a novel emerged, then that novel turned several corners, and now I have nearly 119 chapters piled in a document, but a word count doesn’t begin to indicate all that has been considered within the prose. And only now, two years since waking to the dream that initiated this tale, I need to take some deep breaths, allowing what this story means to me.
Yesterday I inserted a chapter about Seth Gordon, a character vital to the tale, but also a soul not well illustrated. At times I’ve wondered why I hadn’t fully formed him; was I being lazy or…. Now I allow that while Seth’s background was firmly documented, who he was needed to remain concealed, for who he was was indeed fleeting. As the rest of the book unfolds, Seth will too, but that’s not the only reason for this post. Every book I’ve written has purpose, most of those drafts for the sheer practice of writing. Maybe at the time I thought publication was the goal, but now I know better. Those previous tales were to prepare for the task of this saga, which is indeed still about a man who changes. But not simply Eric Snyder; it’s about his wife Lynne, their friends Sam and Renee Ahern, their pastor Marek Jagucki. Also Eric’s art dealer Stanford Taylor, his lover Laurie Abrams, and of course Seth. I’ve placed these people against the backdrop of the early 1960s, but events of twenty years previous are deeply entwined within the narrative, unplanned in this book’s beginning stages. Yet as any writer knows, often the story takes its own turns, and best for the author to allow that freedom, even if said freedom takes a very circuitous path.
So much still remains to be written, but I’m not frightened. I am however awed by the privilege to tell this tale. Maybe that’s what I most wish to denote, and why I have to set it here, the appreciation, the joy. Perhaps that’s what another artist needs to read, to slog through the difficult moments. For two years I’ve been faffing around with this novel, dude…. But art can’t be rushed, nor can the process be taken for granted. I will never again have the pleasure of crafting this particular tale, even if at times I do wish it was already long in the can.
Lately I’ve been struggling with a quilt top, often longing for its completion. After the initial thrill, I grew sick and tired of sewing all these little pieces of fabric into small blocks, a pattern of my own choosing, for quilts aren’t quite like novels; they don’t sew themselves the way words fall from able fingertips. But at times quilts are unwieldy as books, or this one was. And I say was because in a matter of hours on Wednesday I finished the top, fashioned the back, cut the batting, sandwiched that sucker, then basted it as my beloved Giants battled against the Reds. (We’re pretty much out of post-season contention, but suddenly playing like we’re in the World Series.) Yesterday I started the actual quilting, and now I stare at that piece of work, which has been a real piece’a work. All my fretting of the last month is literally sewn together in a bright array of autumnal hues. Colour matters to me, whether in fabrics or Eric’s paintings. And today, after revising yesterday’s writing, then adding that to the mix, I just needed to give myself a few moments to ponder exactly what I’m setting down for posterity. It’s far more than one man’s road to self-discovery; The Hawk delves far deeper than anything I’ve ever written before.
Right now it’s much like the quilt, half basted and waiting for my time. And in time, The Hawk will be like other published books and finished quilts, just another dead soldier. But I never planned for soldiers to matter in this novel, I never dreamed of how vast of a scope I would explore. And who I am to even bring these subjects and characters to the surface? I’m a Californian born after the events of this novel take place, just a wife, mother, grandmother, sport fanatic, seamstress, etc, etc, etc…. Yet, for whatever reason, I’m also a writer, with a pretty active imagination. And most importantly, I am open to direction, be it for colours or words or blog entries. Maybe that’s the most vital aspect of this project, simply being available. I don’t mean writing at all hours, or sewing during them either. Like I said, this has taken two years of working in fits and starts. But now I have settled upon a routine, and even when that is altered, at least a framework exists to guide in this book’s completion.
Writing is indeed a privilege; it’s a gift, a treasure, but not always easy. At times it’s draining due to subject matter or words that sneak away or in how easily they tumble. But on this day, I need to note how precious is this rare blessing. I always wanted to write, but never did I fathom the truths that would blend with the fiction. And every day, whether I’m editing or writing or even quilting, the blessing continues in the mere joy already accumulated, as well as what lingers on the horizon. Within the novel, important adventures await all those mentioned above, vital turning points that I’ve been pondering for months. How did I get so lucky to craft this saga, but luck has nothing to do with it.
Yet, sometimes I still can’t believe this is me, yammering on once again about the writing. It’s like marveling about my grandchildren, it’s inhaling another breath, grateful for my life. I just wanted to say how thankful I am for this opportunity, in albeit my usual long-winded fashion. But being mindful is a good thing too. One of these days this part of the process will be done. And when that day comes, oh my goodness!
In the meantime, back to work I go….
Last night, with my hubby’s assistance, I got the over the bedroom closet door wall hanging hung. It’s been finished for probably a week, but time is a precious commodity, or maybe we’re just old and lazy. I’ll note the former, and give thanks that project is finally where it’s supposed to be.
He took pictures, in his somewhat imaginative, wonky style, while I laid on the bed, admiring that improv piece. I was tired last night, having spent much of my day with Little Miss and her mum, then enjoying a long Skype chat with The Burrito and his mother. While gazing at the primary-hued quilt on the wall, I considered how blessed is my life, an abundance of riches, from family to fabrics. And, of course, words.
The Hawk is moving right along; the first three days back, I felt sluggish, creeping along with 2,500 word chapters, which is nothing to be sneezed at, yet certainly a little slow out of the gate. On Wednesday, ideas were bubbling, and I managed 3,800 words. Yesterday was an off day; I don’t write every day, finding in the last few years that I am more creative if I go three or four days on, a day (or sometimes two) off. I’ll write this morning, probably as soon as I wrap up this post. And when I wrap up this post, I’ll also step away from the blog, for a while.
I’m not sure how long, maybe a month, a week, a couple of years. So much has happened this year, jeez! Or maybe a lot happens all the time, but sometimes it feels like more. Or perhaps aging makes me less competent to handle the big moments. Two grandchildren were born, my father died, I started piecing fabric however I pleased. And again, I’m plugging away on a story that is bigger than the word count, which isn’t small at all. The Hawk is about art and grace, love and war, life and death, clarity and madness. It’s also the sort of book that is leading me to places unknown, like the forest in which Marek finds escape, or the skies where Eric falls to Earth, or the pies Lynne bakes as if her eyes were closed. The writing of this novel has become a journey unto itself, and I’m so thankful to again be on this road.
This road is call the new normal, and it encompasses new faces, while one has been left behind. I feel I’ve blogged about all I can on family and fabrics and fiction. Right now, a curtain needs to be drawn, while I step behind the veil, allowing the mystery some room.
Two days into the return to writing; it’s a different sort of task. The biggest change was yesterday, when I was nearly finished, then my youngest Skyped; The Burrito was especially charming, but I wasn’t quite done! My husband took over the conversation, yet I could hear them, even with the door closed.
Nothing like trying to concentrate on plot when the most adorable little chap is babbling. When I felt the scene was complete, I rushed to where that trio was chatting, catching a bright smile, that could and did take me away from the words.
That’s going to be a new concept within my life as an author. Grandkids seem to take precedence.
They certainly do with the quilting, but that’s easy to pick up, then set aside. But now as I’m back to the early 1960s, within a realm filled with hawks, art, and grace, I’ll have to learn to balance paragraphs with descendants. But some sort of tightrope walking will be achieved, because two days of writing have felt like coming home. Yet a new element has been introduced, that of how this novel has broken itself into manageable chunks. And in beginning yet another, I have to wonder if the next 60,000 (or so) words will handily mete themselves into yet another part. Part Six, as yes, I’m counting, but maybe Part Six will be shorter, or lengthier, than the previous parts.
That of course remains to be seen. For now, I’m ever so pleased to be back in the authorial saddle, as it were. In fact, I wish I could excerpt a little of yesterday’s work, but to do so would present a spoiler, and that wouldn’t be fair to those who await Part Three. But I will say that the flow seems unhindered, if not a wee bit truncated; chapters are averaging around 2500 words. But that’s fine, no need to rush into some 5K behemoths right off the bat. It’s enough to juggle grandkids within the work.
But the work has commenced, and thanks be to God for that! Plus the Giants swept the Diamondbacks, hehehe. Now if we can just take the series with San Diego, and maybe those Dodgers lose a couple, this writer would be over the moon. In the meantime, there is a wall hanging to bind, laundry on the line, and more plot over which to ruminate. Ah plot; just shake, write, repeat. There’s truly not much more to it than that, when the timing is appropriate. Again thank the lord it’s finally time….
Yesterday at the post office I saw the Maya Angelou stamp sign, and while the quote isn’t from the poet, it rang so true for me. Especially I can apply it to writing, and it’s most applicable with the WIP. Six chapters remain to revise of The Hawk, and then…. Then I will dive back into telling this tale, one word at a time.
But not because what I’m creating is the answer to the world’s problems. At the end of the day, it’s simply a story, regardless of scope or themes. But it’s a yarn I feel compelled to spin, if for no other reason than I have been enabled with the gift to put one sentence down followed by others, crafting paragraphs into scenes into said chapters. And in about two days’ time, I’ll add another, stepping back into a creative realm invisible to the naked eye.
Writing is nothing like quilting in that aspect. I could pepper this post with shot after shot of the wall hanging of the moment, but one suffices; yesterday I sewed this monster into one long strip, chose fabrics for the back, sewed those together, cut batting, basted the whole thing, even started quilting diagonally with some rather loud yellow thread. Much more quilting remains, but it’s now held tight not by pins but polyester string. The binding is prepared, and within a few days this project will be on my bedroom wall over the closet, case closed.
Yet The Hawk has no set timeline for completion, thanks be to God that I’m nearly back to writing it even! Over lunch with a friend, I extolled my excitement for the commencement of that activity, because while revisions are necessary, if only to reacquaint myself with all I had added to this tale, editing doesn’t hold a candle to the thrill of indeed enlarging that fictional universe. How much bigger it’s going to get is unknown, and I don’t even want to ponder that aspect.
It will be as lengthy as is required. Ultimately, the requirement is for me to sing this song as best as I can. And that is what I need to embrace, the simple singing of the song. For how many years did I want to write, oh jeez! Decades, to be honest. And for most of this past decade, I’ve been writing, again thanks to God. How often do we get to realize our dreams, and accept those blessings without strings attached, no one grading our efforts, but merely the moment to sing whatever song stirs within our hearts and souls?
I like to sing, maybe that’s why the quote hit me, there in an innocuous post office, not the sort of place where deep truths are known to land. But I was there sending books to my nieces; books are wondrous gifts, and The Hawk is the same, if only to me. Maybe dreams aren’t realized because we dreamers don’t understand how important is the follow-through. All the rough drafts I’ve tucked away are just as meaningful as the saga I’m currently sorting, for they have led me to this spot in the writing. These quirky wall hangings are practice for future projects, every step along the way building to the ultimate culmination of….
A song to be sung. La la la, humming along for no other reason than to hum. But that sound resonates further than what I can hear. Closing my eyes, I give away that tune, that tale, those pieces of fabric, and allow the magic to continue. The magic of life is a most precarious and precious work. Who I am to presume more than the blessings within my hands, but if those treasures aren’t released….
La la la, here they are! Now back to the singing, sewing, um, and the laundry….
Actually, this is the story of one completed wall hanging and another wall hanging quilt top nearly finished. But it is the fifteenth of July, mid-summer in full swing. And I’ve been a busy sewing bee the last few days, finally feeling to have taken control of one unwieldy project while putting the final touches on a piece that has captivated me since the beginning.
Funny how something with innocuous beginnings can pluck the heartstrings. This white, tone on tone yellow and teal project will rest on the wall in our computer/Janome area of the house, where I can divert my attention to how well this all came together.
Quilted in white on the diagonal, I’m not sure if it’s the hues with which I’m most pleased or the overall aesthetic appearance, but something calls to me in this little project. Maybe it’s the size, or how summer will always be reflected, although summer in California already feels like a never-ending season.
But summer hearkens to honeysuckle, a vine of my childhood which now grows in my backyard. Honeysuckle reminds me of my father, who a year ago was looking forward to his big party. I will cherish the memories of that day as long as I live.
However, sometimes life takes left turns in Albuquerque. The piece, or shall I say pieces, affixed to the quilt wall have been more of a headache than I dreamed. I’d wanted to turn these colours into floating squares, but the more I worked with them, the less I liked them.
Fortunately I took a Burrito time-out. Returning to the grotto, I played around with some scraps, my youngest daughter in need of coasters. I decided to use a few red, yellow, and blue pieces, but they were too small. So I hacked off some from the squares on the quilt wall, because by then a drastic step was necessary.
It was the best thing I could have done, although I have no clue as to how this block will be employed. Far too big for a coaster or even a rug-mug, too small for a place mat, and I’m basically out of scraps to enlarge it. I’ll stare at it for a bit, and see what evolves.
Next is sewing the new wall hanging-in-process together, then going through the whole quilting rigmarole. Other fabrics are piling, not to mention chapters in need of attention. Ten remain for The Hawk, then I can begin writing, oh dear lord! I’ve been pining for that day, but in the meantime two wall hangings had to be sorted. And now, basically, they have been, with a bonus square thrown in for good measure. Measure by measure is how this life is lived. “For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Luke 6.38 is the above verse in entirety. Quilts tops and books, all in their own good time….