I’ve been reintroduced to a wonderful group of women here on Canada’s East Coast that meet every Wednesday morning for some tea/coffee and crafting. During this wonderful two and a half hours, we snack on cake, fruit, cheese, the occasional chocolate, and wile away the rest of the time with whatever project we bring with us. Some of us knit, some do paper embroidery, and others rug hook or quilt. Since I am not a crafty person – my mom tried to get me to be a knitter, but squares kept coming out as triangles – I discovered cross-stitch is something I can actually accomplish with confidence. And it’s been wonderful getting back into the hobby (having given it up while out west).
This week, as I pulled out the hobby one night, I realized that cross-stitch compared to writing has some advantages. So let’s begin:
1. The Husband does not look at you strangely for stitching little tiny X’s on cloth in order to make a picture. Scribbling on paper to create fiction – a much different story altogether.
2. No thought involved what so ever. Follow the pattern, stitch away, and picture complete. Writing- I didn’t get a pattern, did you?
3. No blinking cursor! That’s right – no blank screen, no empty page waiting to be filled with words made up by me. Oh yeah, there’s a blank canvas, but after the first stitch (finding a starting point is a bit of a headache), you’re on your way.
4. Success every time. I have yet to screw up a project and have to either start over or completely abandon. Talk about a confidence booster!
5. I can pick it up at anytime and go. No re-reading to figure out where I thought I was going. No fishing through notes to figure out where I was going. I just go – quick check of the pattern, thread the needle, and presto, on my way.
6. No one asks me about my plans. Or what I’m working on at the present moment.
7. I don’t have to explain to people the process of getting published – that there’s more to getting a book on the shelf than just writing a novel and sending it away for binding. The only process I need to explain, for the uninitiated, is the idea of taking a thread from one corner of a tiny square and then crossing over the other corner, thus making an X over and over again until a picture emerges.
8. NO EDITING! ‘Nuff said.
9. NO QUERYING! What I do with a finished product is up to me. I don’t have to get it ready to send out on submission. I don’t have to cut out a tiny corner and send it away to see if anyone wants to see more. And…
10. NO REJECTION! No one’s going to come back and say "Thanks, but it’s just not what we’re looking for at this time."
But, I hear you say, in any war there are two sides. And you’re right. So here’s the points writing has over cross-stitch:
2. Brain exercise. Some days I think my brain will explode as I try and find the perfect word or edit a sentence for more impact, more punch. Writing stretches the mental muscle, works both the right and left side, and places you in a realm of constant learning and growing.
3. A blinking cursor – a blank page – just waiting to be filled with metaphors, similes, colorful characters, excitement. The challenge awaits!
4. Success. Sometimes in a wonderful turn of phrase. Perhaps in a snippet that others found compelling, thoughtful, beautiful. Always in a first draft completed.
5. I can write anywhere. There’s always a notebook handy and there’s always a story to jot down. Pages of notes that remind me of the wonderful characters who desperately want their story told. Previous chapters that make me smile, fuel my creativity, beg for continuance. In as little as 5 minutes, I can write a sentence, an idea or the start of a poem. In the car, on the bus, in a waiting room.
6. I love talking about my plans. My writing. My hopes. My dreams. My characters.
7. I love explaining the process of publication so that the next time that person picks up a book, she’ll know the author’s heart and soul is found between the covers. And that getting that book into her hands took a great deal of determination, persistence, blood, sweat, and (most likely) tears.
8. EDITING! Yeah, I love to edit. Finding the right word. Creating a better story. If you’re going to write, you’re going to edit – may as well love it!
9. QUERYING! OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but you sure do learn how to sell – and condense. Not to mention great lessons in writing business letters and resumes. High school and university graduates should be made to query!
10. REJECTION! If you can handle the heat, then stay in the kitchen. After the submission process there isn’t anything in life you can’t handle.
So, People of Blogland, which side are you going to take today? Do you have a hobby that could go to war with your writing time? Have I missed a point or two on either side? And for fun – besides writing, what is a hobby you enjoy doing?