I never start small. A few years ago the allure of mixing colours and shapes and my sewing skills drew me to make a quilt. For our king size bed. Do you know how big that is?
Big. Very big. Especially when it came to the precise cutting of each tiny piece of fabric and then sewing them together with exact seam allowances so that when you put the squares all together they actually fit.
Kind of like crafting a novel.
I started big there, too. Oh, I had written all my life–cookbooks, family memoirs for my kids, loving letters on special occasions, and even a few short stories. But novels were my reading passion, the form I knew the most about, and so I started writing about Loyalists caught in the American Revolution.
I should have learned from my quilt-making, assembling all the pieces first, and made an outline, gradually filling it in until I knew exactly where the project was headed and could envision the finished book. I planned each quilt square, figured how many of each type I would need, and sewed them up. Then I laid them out on the floor and planned just how they would fit together best. I had a vision and I worked to make it come true. With my first novel, I researched the period, established the history timeline, came up with characters and basically started writing.
Bad. Very bad. And yet the writing was not bad. In places it was pretty good. But the plot lacked organization.
With my quilt I planned all the layers: quilt top which took the most time and effort, the type of batting to give it warmth, and the underside. Not for me a plain white backing. I wanted depth and colour. Sound like a good book?
Have you ever tried to rip out the tiny stitches of a quilt? To look at a hundred and forty-four squares you sewed together on the wrong side? Well, don’t. Now I know why so many people abandon their first novel and just start again on a new project, putting all their new knowledge to work on something fresh and exciting.
For me, just as I ended up with a lovely finished project with my quilt, I will get my book straightened out and be able to put up a lovely picture of it here. For now, here’s what I have.
What lessons have you learned on your writing journey? Or your life journey? Kindly leave a comment and join in the discussion.