Hello, dearest Reader. I feel like I’ve fallen far off the grid, and yet it’s only been a week and several hours since my last post. The real difference is I haven’t visited any of my friends’ blogs. I’ve been busy, which is quite fitting since today is Labor Day in the US.
I still have the baby blanket to knit, but at least I’ve completed the sweater and cap. I have my doubts about this pattern, though, and it’s the second time I’ve knitted it. I used to knit sweaters a lot, adult sweaters for friends, me, and my husband. The baby things have only come about in the last 14 years, since my nephews started having children. Then a good friend gained a granddaughter and coworkers started having babies. For a long while I was knitting baby blankets, occasionally throwing in a sweater or socks or a dress. The thing is … I hate sewing the pieces together, especially when the stitch pattern is anything other than stockinette stitch. I recall only one time in my knitting life when I sewed up the seams of a cardigan so well they were almost invisible. (And when I say “sew,” I mean taking several inches of the yarn and a large blunt needle and weaving the seams closed.)
Knitting is much like writing for me. I love the process. I love seeing the pattern unfold through my fingers as much as I enjoy seeing a story take shape on a page. I love the feel of soft wool against my skin as much as I love the intimacy I develop with my characters. But I don’t love having to put the pieces together as much as I don’t love having to revise and rewrite. The problem is self-doubt.
Whenever I knit for someone else, I’m more critical of my work than when knitting for myself. I will rip out a finished sleeve and start over if I find a mistake. Even when I’m convinced I’ve done the best I could, I still find “defects” in my knitting: a slight gap where I twisted a stitch one way instead of the other; a telltale seam along the back of the hat. It’s the same when I think of other people reading my writing: Melissa’s breakdown is too melodramatic; the setting too vague, too Anywhere, USA. Typos and grammar can be fixed by an editor. Poor revision cannot (well, not unless I’m willing to spend $$$$$$$$$$).
So it goes.
Shortly, things will be even busier. I’ve managed to register for two free online courses: (1) Modern & Contemporary American Poetry offered by the University of Pennsylvania; and (2) How Writers Write Fiction with the University of Iowa, the same folks who offered the poetry course I took a few months ago. The poetry course will start on Sept 12 and the fiction course on Sept 24. And I still have my day job.
Am I insane? Is there a padded cell in my near future? I keep taking things to the limit. Cue The Eagles.