Writing Inspiration From an Unlikely Source
You never know where you will find inspiration for writing.
I love knitting and stitching and sewing and anything to do with textiles or fiber arts. Throughout my young adult years (does that mean I’m now an old adult? apparently so) it was always a toss up as to which way my career would go–towards writing or some sort of designing with textiles. While I’ve always written, I’ve also always done needlework in one form or another. I sold children’s clothing that I designed and sewed for awhile and after that I thought maybe I’d combine my loves and be a craft writer. While that never panned out, I did eventually begin my free-lance career by writing about art.
Gradually, though, writing won out, which leads us to the current day, where mostly all I do is write. Lately, it has been a rare day when my hands have held needles of any kind–though I did sew a button back on my shirt when I was in Nashville.
But lately I’ve realized that I missed knitting and stitching, and that rather than being a distraction to my writing, it’s actually an enhancement. One form of creativity bleeds into and informs another, and actually bolsters your creative muscle. We tend to think in an exclusive, dualistic way–if I do this, than I can’t do that, when in reality the opposite is true. The more kinds of creative projects you allow yourself to pursue, the more creative you will be.
So I decided I needed some inspiration and when I heard that Fiona Ellis was speaking on her knitting muses, I made reservations for the lecture and convinced my friend Leigh to attend.
Fiona was great. She’s a Brit living in Canada, and quite an accomplished designer. She showed us slides of her various inspirations–travel, urban landscapes, nature, museums, the everyday, and so forth. I was totally content, sitting on a couch at the back of the room, next to a woman knitting socks, who was a knitting soul sister because we both admitted that we never finished our projects.
But Fiona really got me thinking when she answered a question about how to get started designing. "Start from where you are and move forward," she advised. "I never sit down thinking this design will the my Sistine chapel."
I love that advice. And also this: "Don’t spend all your time organizing the files on your desk." In other words, get to it. Just do it. "It’s not brain surgery or rocket science. You don’t die from it. People aren’t going to lose their sense of smell (from a botched surgery) if you have to rip your stitches out."
Same thing with writing. Nobody’s going to suffer or die if the words you put on paper the first time aren’t perfect. Or if, shudder, you have to delete them and start over.
One of the other things that Fiona said was about how she convinced herself to go to University, as they say across the pond. She was nearing the age of thirty, and had done her A levels, but gone straight into the working world. When a friend died of brain cancer, she reassessed her life and made a list of all the things that were obstacles to returning to school–and then she dealt with them, one by one.
Isn’t that a great way to approach life? Do you have obstacles in your way to writing? Make a list of them and then deal with them, one by one.