Saturday, November 9, 2013

In Which I Learned A Lesson about Writing from Knitting

Knitting. Yes, I said knitting.

Let me start off by making sure my readers understand the difference between knitting and crocheting, because this might make less sense if it's unclear.

Knitting = two needles
Crocheting = one hook

Both produce profoundly different stitches, and a key thing to note here (which I didn't realize was important until this particular moment) is that knitting takes much, much longer than crocheting.

So I've been crocheting since I was a young child. It's something my mom attempted to teach to me, but I ultimately learned from a book, continuing the long line of women in my family who can crochet. Recently, I decided to try my hand at knitting, because honestly, some things just look better knitted than they do crocheted. A few Youtube videos later, and I'm a knitting machine.

A big reason I took this upon myself to learn is because I found a really pretty variegated yarn at the store. It's mostly black with several strands of color running through it that changes between all the colors of the rainbow. And I knew it would look better knitted. I got to work.

The thing about this yarn is, it's variegated pattern is different from what I'm used to. Usually the yarn will switch between colors often and consistently. Not in this yarn. As I unraveled the yarn from the skein, there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to how the color comes out. For about a quarter of the scarf, the chance went from yellow, to green to blue to purple to red... and then it started to get crazy -- and it seemed to stay red for a while. A long while.

A very long while.

Days later after tons of knitting, I finally pulled on the yarn and a knotted clump broke free out of the skein, and there it was, the golden yellow yarn I had been longing to see. A few rows of stitches later, and I was there. It had been added to my scarf, and already it made it better. And the changes are still slow, but they are happening. There's a rainbow in my scarf.

So what does any of this have to do with writing? I once again tried to delve into NaNoWriMo this year. The jury is still out as to whether I'll attempt to complete it this year. But basically, this is my fourth attempt since my first and only win in 2009. Failed story after failed story. And this year has been tough. It goes around and around that NaNo is nothing more than writing words. After all, you can't fix it until it's written. But it gets hard when you're not inspired and you just want to give up because it feels like everything you write is crap. It's just the same stuff, nothing is changing, and it's becoming uninteresting.

Just like the scarf that won't change colors, until that bright flash of change appears. It becomes necessary to just keep writing just like you just have to keep knitting to get to the end. Keep trudging along in your writing, and the bright flash of brilliance will occur. Inspiration, or a moment where everything clicks. Maybe it will still suck for a lot of it, and the end might still be a struggle, but the end result will be something beautiful, because it'll be something you worked on, you put the effort in, and something you finished.

There's brilliance in there, hidden in the color changes.


  1. Very nice post!

    This weekend, I'm taking a stab at a new draft of something I had to abandon a few weeks ago. My first draft wasn't working and I knew it. Worse -- this is a book under contract. I have to write it!

    Gloom, despair, agony ..

    And then a flash of golden brilliance. One small change in an essential character might make all the difference. Most of the scarf is still red .. I mean, most of the story is still the same. Except for this golden thread of change.

    I hope it makes the difference as I start over from scratch!

    1. Good luck! I hope that your flash of brilliance gets the story told the way you want.

      Unfortunately I realized this morning that I still have several commitments to keep before the end of this month, and I'm not under contract, so NaNo is going on hold. But at least I got some plot holes worked out last night.