Bedspreads and Novel Writing: It’s the Little Things

A few weeks ago I got it in my head that I wanted to knit a bedspread. I don’t know why. These notions just sort of show up, and I either wait for them to pass or jump on them. Usually I jump on them and am sorry later as I ask, “What did I get myself into this time?”

So, of course, I’ve jumped in. Again. I’ve given up the quest for self-improvement in favor of self-acceptance, so all I can do is shake my head, smile, and say, “Yep, that’s what I do.”

After some searching, here’s the pattern I settled on. It’s easier than it looks, because I’ll make a lot of little pieces that I then sew together. Of course, making a lot of little pieces can get tedious. I started knitting the little colored strips…80 of them for each of 13 colors. I don’t like doing math, but I can tell you, that’s a lot, and those pieces represent just part of the quilt.

It’s no coincidence that I’m revising a novel at the same time. Without boring you with all the little details, it feels much the same as working on this quilt. There is the whole that is the ultimate goal, which I’m reaching by working on thousands of little, tedious pieces.

I’m reading The Wonder of Aging: A New Approach to Embracing Life After Fifty by Michael Gurian. Based on what I’ve read so far, it would appear that this new approach to quilting, writing, and life is a reflection of my age and current stage of life. I’m okay with taking time to work on the little details. Yes, I’d like to write books faster than I do, but I’m more interested in writing better. Eventually I’ll have enough of those little pieces done to put them together in one of the rings. Eventually I’ll read through a draft and say, yes, this one’s ready to go to the editor, because I’ve done my best.

It seems curious and paradoxical to want to slow down the process. There is so much to write! So much to get done! Sometimes it feels maddening to become more deliberate, more thoughtful, less action-oriented. Yet somehow, I suspect, I will get more done. My drafts may go more slowly, but I will need fewer of them (I hope). In the end, I hope to have a beautiful heirloom quilt and a beautifully written book to share.

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