Friday, July 26, 2013

A Designer of Words

A friend of mine, Mary Wollesen, designs quilts. I mean, these are not your typical quilts made to throw over a bed, although she has some lovely ones doing just that. The below quilt Mary named 'Rainy Days and Sundays' looks perfectly at home on someone's bed. However, most of Mary's creations are one-of-a-kind treasures, made to hang on walls or drape over sofas or chairs. They are gorgeous works of art. People spend hours admiring, appreciating, and snuggling in them. It's so win-win.

A couple of days ago I was a writer lost in Mary's field, out searching for fabrics. Mary's always got a new project going and I wanted to rip apart a threadbare dress, use it as a pattern, and make a new one from it. So we lunched and zipped in and out of stores, talking about the creative process while sifting through stacks of cloth. Oddly enough,  the quilting and writing businesses have a lot of similarities. For instance: You need to first come up with an idea for the fabric/story. Then you need to pattern/plot it, followed by pinning/hanging it together, and finally, you need to have the skill, talent, and tenacity to get in there and make it whole.

We also discussed the different daily approaches like: how comfortable is your work area (or just how long can you lean over fabric cutting it out or banging out words on a keyboard before your back freezes up)? How do you find time to get the work done with constant interruptions, such as life, love, and laundry? How do you get yourself to produce when you don't feel like it? How can you love doing something, when it is such a pain in the butt much of the time? Hmmmm. No answer to the last question.

So it comes to pass that all us artistic types are a little nutty. It's just not writers. I was worried there for a spell.

But doing what we do not only makes us happy, it makes us experts in our fields. I mean, here I was in a quandary as to whether or not I could find fabric and feel better about the dress I adored being worn out, filled with holes, and faded to a mere shell of its former self. And along came Mary to help me coordinate two patterned fabrics I never would have thought of using together and voilĂ ! Kismet. She is a person who has mastered the centuries old art form of combining separate fabrics in such a way that makes your jaw drop. And glory hallelujah, she gave me the benefit of her expertise. I am now happily taking apart my well-worn dress seam by seam, looking forward to using it as a pattern for something new and exciting.

So here's my hope: One of the days, Mary is going to need help with a poem, letter, memoir, or short story, and I will be there. Because I am an expert on the written word.  I know from experience that if you put this word here, that phrase there -- combined with a lot of hard work and a little luck -- you create something exciting and moving; something people will want to read.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go do the laundry.