Monday, March 29, 2010

Craft(ing) Versus Writing

I know lots of people expecting babies in the imminent future, so I've been working on this pile of baby shoes. They're from this tutorial at baremaked. Very simple, very easy and a bit miraculous the way they come together. I have no idea how people come up with these things, because I've already finished four shoes and I'm not altogether sure how it works. It just does.

Anyway, the outside is this super-cute Japanese print of The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids (thanks to our Storytelling efforts, I now know what the heck is going on there) that I bought last Thanksgiving. I only know that one baby is for sure (as sure as anyone can be about these things) a boy, but why can't girls wear adorable powder-blue shoes, hmm?

Right next to my sewing table, above my "writing table" (a.k.a. old telephone table), I have posted this list, "10 Methods to Find More Time to Write." The first item on the list: "Prioritize your time. If writing habitually ends up at the bottom of your priorities list, you can hardly expect to accomplish much."

Sitting there, sliding tiny elastics through tiny casings one night after work last week, I wondered about this. Should I have been spending this precious quiet hour, between lights out in the kids' room and lights out in mine, writing, instead of turning teeny tiny shoes right side out with a chopstick?

Why do I choose to spend my quiet moments crafting (yes I have finally broken down and turned that blasted noun into a verb...I never thought it could happen to me) instead of writing? My skill level is not, and never will be, above "intermediate," so it's not like I'm churning out one-of-a-kind object d'art that the world would suffer without. After thinking it over for some time, these are the reasons my hands more often find their way to handwork than computer work in my downtime:

--I spend eight hours a day, five days a week staring into a computer screen. My eyes get tired. My wrists ache. The last thing I want to do when I get home is go anywhere near a computer.

--I spend all day working with words--one day last week I had open in various windows five documents on one topic, ranging from 60-odd to 900-odd pages; I read them all and gleaned enough information to write, oh say, a paragraph in my own document--when I get home I want to work with something I can touch: color, texture, cutting and putting together, a final product that is real and solid. It's less of a right-brain/left-brain thing than a language-centers/tactile-centers thing.

--It's cheap. I cut all four pairs of shoes from one fat quarter, and even though it was a pricey fat quarter, it comes down to less than $1.50 per pair, if you count the thread and elastic (which I already had; the flannel I used in the lining was destined for a dumpster and given to me free).

--It feels good to give a handmade gift (even if it is obscenely cheap), and nice that the labor was sweatshop-free.

--It gives me control. I imagine what I want, and then I make it to my specifications, limited only by my tools and skill level. I like being in charge.

--I love beautiful things, and if I can surround myself with beautiful things I made myself, so much the better (especially since I can't afford beautiful things that other people have made).

I guess this means that I have prioritized my time, and writing, unfortunately, does not rise to the top. Right now it hovers around the 5 a.m. timeframe (I can face the computer before I've been at it for eight hours). I am taking another writing class this summer, which I'm very excited about (the advanced version of Mother Words), and for a while, at least, I'll rearrange my priorities so that writing sits in the place of honor.


  1. I'm very impressed with your crafting. Girl Scouts has eaten most of my writing time this year.

  2. I like to think my knitting and quilting and cooking replenish my creative well, so when I return to writing I'm refreshed. Plus, I think it's important to create with both the mind and the hand, and that I'm a better writer because I'm creative elsewhere in my life.

  3. Oh dear 5:00 AM. That sounds like very committed writing. PLUS full time work, 3 children, submitting to magazines, a blog and a zine! Holy moly girl, sounds like you are squeezing some serious creativity out of the day. Good for you!

  4. I echo waht 6512 and growing says. Perspective, perspective. You DO an amazing amount of things. An impressive amount of things. Really.

    Now I just need to write you a real thank you for my wonderful cute bag! I love the mix of materals & great ribbon. THANK YOU!

  5. LSM--If it's not one thing, it's another, isn't it? You do fantastic things with your girl scouts.

    Rachel--Good point, and I like that, "refill my well."

    6512--I have to admit that 5 a.m. does not happen every day (or even close to it!), but I guess on the days it does, I am committed!

    Sara--You're welcome! Glad you liked the bag. Wish I could have given it to you in person!!

  6. Maybe the crafting is the balance you need to do the other stuff you do. I don't think it is necessarily a problem with prioritizing. You need to use different parts of the brain to stimulate other parts. It adds to the richness even if you are not writing about crafting. There is something there that will emerge in your writing even if in a very abstract way. It changes the way you look at the world and creating and living with handmade items has a profound impact on who we are and how we connect with the rest of the world.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...