Most of us have hobbies. I spend my extra time either quilting or writing. Much to my surprise, I’ve discovered these two passions are quite similar. Both give me JOY as I methodically work step-by-step to create my projects.
Every quilt starts with a design. Once the pattern is chosen, I select a color scheme of three different colors that enhance each other. Then I determine the finished size of the quilt.
For writing, I buy a new notebook to use for notes and thoughts. The tablet stays with me 24/7 so I can write down ideas as they come to me. I decide on a storyline and the ultimate goal of the main character. I choose a place and time and consider one or two other people to interact with the main character.
If I am making my own design for the quilt, I draw the plans on graph paper. Once I select or draw the pattern, I figure out how much yardage I need for each color.
Before I start the writing phase of a story, I do an abbreviated outline of three to five words per chapter. I begin to research for the story.
Now comes the fun part of the quilt; I shop for the fabric. This step usually takes me a couple of hours at the fabric store. After I choose as many as twelve different materials in the color scheme I’ve decided upon, I lay them on a large table. I move the bolts around and eliminate one at a time until I’m left with the colors I like together. The clerk measures and cuts the proper amount of each fabric. The materials are rinsed, dried, and ironed when I get home. Now I can cut the material into the appropriate size pieces needed for the quilt.
Before I write the story, I develop the characters on Character Profile sheets. I include their age, background, personality, looks, quirks, mannerisms, family, and anything else that is needed to understand the person and make them real to my reader and me. I determine the time and place of the story.
The cut pieces of material for the quilt are pressed and organized before I sew them together to form the design. Music helps the time fly by as I sew the pieces together and watch my creation unfold. Sounds like a simple step, but it takes the longest to see through to fruition.
When I’m ready to begin the writing phase of the current story, I sit at my desk, turn on the computer, and let Josh Groban sing to me through my headset. I check the outline to give me a starting point for the chapter and start creating. I am what the writing world calls a ‘pantster’—I write by the seat of my pants. The limited outline keeps me focused on the conflict or main idea of the chapter. I allow my creativity to take over as the story unfolds through my fingertips. It’s important to me to allow my creativity to flow non-stop, so I never stop to reread or edit until I’ve written the first draft.
When I finish the quilt top, I iron all the seams and press the entire top. I also cut off the hanging threads. At this point, I can lay the quilt piece on the bed and see how it looks.
Once I’ve written my entire manuscript, I do spelling and grammar checks. To help me see if the story flows and where I might have holes, incomplete sentences, or wrong words, I read through the entire document. I fix the spelling and grammar errors and flag potential issues.
The quilt top is pinned to the batting and back piece. This is a tedious task and takes patience and perseverance. I make sure the layers are smooth and taut before I pin the three layers together.
In writing, edits are the most tedious step for me. Although I don’t adjust the storyline, it’s not unusual for me to change a manuscript eight to ten times. This requires reading through the document again and again. After I read from front to back, I also read the story from the last sentence to the first. It’s amazing the flags that rise when reading from the end to the beginning. I also belong to writing groups. We read sections of each other’s work and make suggestions.
The actual quilting of the project is done in one of three ways. Some people send their quilts to a vendor who stitches the three layers together on a longarm quilting system. Quilting on the sewing machine is another option. It’s difficult at times to maneuver the pinned layers on a small machine, but it can be done. My favorite method is hand quilting. Although it may take months to complete, it’s a satisfying experience.
I’ve written the manuscript, and it’s complete. Time to send it to my editor.
The quilt is sewn. After I hem the perimeter, I wash and dry the project. There’s no better feeling than to remove a project from the dryer and feel the puffiness of the quilted areas.
I make the changes to my writing that the editor suggests. Then I’m ready to query agents. My work is done until I receive word from an agent about potential publishing opportunities.
I gift the quilt to someone special or place it on my bed for my enJOYment.
The JOY of writing behind me, I wait to have my book published. Never idle, I work on the next story.
What hobbies bring you JOY? Do you make time for them? I’m a firm believer in having down time from the stresses of life. Each of us was born with unique gifts and talents. I’ve only realized in the last few years that one of my gifts is creativity.
May you discover the unique gift you were born with, my friend, and find time every day to allow that talent to surface. JOY will refresh your spirit, improve your focus, and help you cope with the demands of your life. EnJOY your amazing talents.