During the past two weeks, I have made no progress whatsoever on my novel, so yesterday I decided to celebrate Mother’s day by quilting and continuing to ignore the whole book project. I began cutting and stitching fabric I had pulled a few weeks ago for a new project, but after I had it all cut and sewn a bit, it was awful . . . ugly even. After quilting for fifteen years, I know that I always get to the “I hate this hideous quilt” stage at some point during construction. When I first started quilting, I would stop working and set the project aside. Now, knowing that this stage is normal, I sometimes I set the piece aside, but more often I just power through it, knowing that my planning will pay off, and the quilt will ultimately shine.
Yesterday, when I hit this stage with my quilt I had a huge “well . . . duh you idiot” moment, as I was struck with an epiphany about my creative process. This is exactly where I am with my novel. I have this great idea that at one point I really liked. It’s all plotted. I’ve written a few scenes, but for the past few weeks, I haven’t written a word because I’ve been at the “this book is awful and I hate it” stage. There are two major reasons I’ve told myself this: one, I can’t think of name for my main character, and two, a large part of the setting is historical and set in the west (both of which I love), but I do not want to write a “western” – ick! Can I write historical western fiction and have it not be a western? I think that’s another post.
I have to say this discovery made me sigh with relief. If I get to this stage for every single quilt I’ve ever made (and I’ve made a lot) but end up loving it after I force myself to keep working on it, then clearly this is normal for me during my creative process. So these past few weeks that I’ve set my novel aside to read, quilt, write a short story, and write blog entries haven’t been wasted. They are obviously part of how I work. I just had to figure out that my creative process applies whether I’m sewing or writing. I feel much better about my novel project now . . . and I also feel ready to start writing again, knowing that I just need to power through this. It will all shine in the end.