On June 27, 2012 | 5 Comments | books, fiction, women, writing | Tags: , , , ,

“You’ve made a mobius,” hubby said.

“Is that a good thing?” I asked. Honestly, every now and then he speaks a foreign language to me. If we’re in a room full of other computer programmers, it takes less than five minutes for me to flee in panic.

As much as we share in common, he’s a math guy, and I can barely balance my checkbook. Still, I was curious, and I like to learn. What the heck is a mobius, and why do I care?

So, here’s the answer to the first part. Take a long strip of paper, give it a little half twist, and then connect the ends. When you draw a line on it starting at one of the seams, you somehow end up on the other side of the paper. This toy then creates amusement for math-type people with too much time on their hands as they explore all the implications.

So, how did I make a mobius and not know it? As you know, I decided to restart my knitting life with an absurdely complex project, a skirt. Turns out that I got my skirt in a bunch instead of my panties. I made a twist in the stitches somehow, and the skirt took on a lovely shape except for the part in the back where the knitted fabric turned over on itself, leaving a twist that would expose my unbunched panties. The only solution was to rip it out and start again.

I sought help from my knitting books. Turns out that knitters know what a mobius is. Who knew? Sometimes they make them on purpose, in fact. I found instructions on how to make them. I did not, however, find the words to tell me how to not make one.

Online, though, other knitters like me have wailed and gnashed their teeth, and nice, polite knitting ladies set them straight on what went wrong and how to fix it. Nice to know I’m not alone, anyway! Isn’t it great to type “unintentional knitting mobius” into Google and actually get some hits?

Of course, I’m all about metaphor, so you know I’m looking for the Deeper Message in all of this. Yes, I know. The message is to take a knitting class. Still, I felt like there was another Life Lesson to be had. Based on the mess I made, it couldn’t be good.

A few days later, I knew exactly what I needed to know, or rather, admit, to myself. My novel in progress, Blood and Loam, is still a mess. Set in 1970 in the Midwest, it explores a lot of big themes: war, post-traumatic stress, the changing roles of women (and some resulting confusion), and even the beginnings of the agricultural changes that now affect how we eat. Yes, I’m writing about corn and trying to be entertaining at the same time. You see my dilemma.

Anyway, like the skirt, the story unravels at the beginning. I had to face facts: I was going to have to do a lot more heavy lifting to get this book done right.

Worse, between the construction noise and other interruptions, I wasn’t getting the focused brain time to fix the problem.

By Friday, I was ready to throw the whole thing out. Well, maybe “things” as in plural — the skirt and the novel. However, I am nothing if not stubborn. Hubby says I should say I’m tenacious. Tomato, to-mah-to. Anyway, I don’t give up. The skirt looks too pretty in the picture (will I look as thin and have the model’s great hair when I’m done, too?), and I think that Blood and Loam is worth the struggle. I think it just requires from me, like the skirt, a greater level of skill than I currently have. The only way to get to that level of skill is to keep working at it.

And so I took a deep breath and cast on new stitches. Then I sat down with a hard copy of the manuscript and started to read through it again, making notes. What if I introduced the villain later? What if the creepy triangle showed up later to pack a bigger “Ewww!!!” punch? What if I rearranged some chapters? What if I added a scene in the first chapter? Little by little, something better started to take shape. Hubby took a long bike ride and left me alone in the quiet on a Sunday, no construction workers around, to break the book into pieces and to start reconstructing it.

A funny thing happens when I solve one problem. I get ideas to solve other problems, too. I’ve never felt that Blood and Loam works as a second novel because of some controversies in it. I “saw” the book that will come second…and the one that will come third. I had a pattern to follow. Yes, I’ve had a pattern to follow with the darn skirt, and you see where that got me, but having a plan makes me feel better, at least. I started writing, writing, and writing, and I’m finding my way.

Perhaps unraveling is a good thing. The new skirt will get done, eventually. Blood and Loam will become the story it’s meant to be. It all suddenly makes sense, and the Universe is set right again.

As for the math, though, I’d prefer to leave that to the experts. I hope I never see another mobius again.

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