An essay I read this morning has stunned me.
It was a sizeable piece by Sarah Minor, called What Quilting and Embroidery Can Teach Us About Narrative Form It caught my eye because not only does the craft of writing interest me, but I’m also a fibre crafter. I dabble in cross stitch and am a long-time knitter. So needless to say, I read the essay with high hopes. I’m ashamed to say that I don’t remember most of the piece, but one concept rocked me so much, I had to put down my breakfast and re-read the passage. Minor wrote,
“This centre could be the most significant or challenging moment in an essay. From there, the process of “piecing” a text, rather than writing it in a straight line, could free the writer from concerns about repetition, foundations, and chronology. “
These two lines made me stop because I’m in the middle of my novel and for many months I’ve been unsure how to proceed. I knew where I wanted to end up, you would think it would be an easy thing to get to the end. But no, I was stumped. And didn’t write a word for six months, not counting grocery lists. I couldn’t see how to write the middle because I was looking at the work in a chronological fashion.
Now, that’s a little odd for me, because some of my best work (in my opinion) has not been written that way. The work I’m proudest of has come to me in snippets of scenes, or conversations between characters, or moments of intense stress and conflict. I write them down, in chunks, and then thread them all together. Rarely has writing in a chronological way ever worked for me.
So why then was I trying to write ‘Infinite Worlds’ in, for me, an un-natural format?
I have no idea.
But it has mired me for six months.
So to read Sarah Minor’s words of wisdom this morning was a lightbulb moment. I read the passage twice before literally leaving my chair with coffee in hand. I went to the window, dog close behind, and stared out at the grey sky. The clouds provided no further wisdom, but it was clear I needed to return to what moved my writing. Not so much write what I know, but write in a way that worked for me.
So that’s the plan.
Now if I could only get to the bottom of Chancellor Roberts…