Textiles, Text, Weaving the World
In weaving class yesterday I went to the back of my loom and tried to squint at the previous weeks work. I was worried that my hitherto "intuitive" yarn choosing might be lacking a connection with the previous yarn pulling and this could jar or fail. As you weave the piece rolls up upon itself and you can only look at sections.
My teacher paused as I was doing this and I found myself explaining that when I work on something long, very long, like a novel, it usually takes years. And there are many pages behind me as I move forward and sometimes I get afraid, very afraid, that I have moved into uncharted, incoherent, random territory.
"What do you do then?" she asked.
"I go on," I said. "Somehow, and this is the whoo-whoo stuff no one really wants to hear, it works."
She looked at me, at the weaving and tapped her chest and said, "Because it's you, and you are choosing. Also, you are following a pattern."
Well, this is true. I am following a pattern called Honeycomb and it repeats. Endlessly. The same thing is true of writing a novel. Your characters appear, they talk, they have bad times, they get happier, they lose things, the circle is endless, like life but there is a pattern because really, nothing is random.
However, there are no guarantees that the pink will work well with the green as it fades into blue but these are my colors, the shades I see as I fall asleep at night, the memories I have of sunsets and risings and my childhood in New Jersey, the sunset setting in our kitchen window before everything became terrible and I was just a happy little girl who loved her parents.
Writing and weaving share other traits. Dressing the loom is challenging, the selection of warp threads, the measuring and the preparation require that other side of the brain, the right side which I normally allow to happily slumber unless it's time to bake something complicated or write an invoice. I used to welcome balancing my checkbook because it forced me to add and subtract. However, it rarely balanced, sometimes there was more, sometimes less. I lived in that gray area which has been eliminated by online checking. My weaving teacher is a genius in that she knew immediately I was a student who would zone out on the bits that focused on numbers (how wide, how long, how many ends per inch?). She told me to work intuitively and I was deeply relieved.
When I start a novel I begin to live in the world of my character and see things through her eyes. I imagine how she might react to good news, stress, who her family is and what they want from her. I usually put her under pressure yet I try and maintain an overall goal of happiness. She has a dark side and a good sense of humor. These are her colors-dark blue, teal, purple, lighter blue, streaks of pink and green. The path I place her on isn't smooth or straight but we are together and we do our best.
So, how does it all work? Well, sometimes it doesn't. I have a stack of unpublished, rejected novels and while each has their pleasing parts, everything working well together, somehow the choice of pattern or color or the way things match and clash just doesn't work. However, when it does work it isn't about structure or planning. It's a matter of knowing, hoping, daring, believing and taking a risk, adding that fuchsia or deep purple, continuing into the unknown because there is that promise of beauty.