Blog Archive

Friday, October 3, 2008

Thought for the day

I occasionally follow the online writing diary of professional author (ie, published and making money at it) Holly Lisle. She has a lot of free advice for aspiring writers, quite a bit of which applies really well to life in general.

She has a paid course that she is running right now, that comes with little movies and lessons and such, and to tease those of us with no money, she often posts portions of those movies on her writing diary. Currently, she's talking about Middles - that part of the novel where you're past the first love and excitement of the Beginning, not yet at the rush and excitement of the Ending, but slogging through all that stuff in between - that point where sometimes you wonder if you really have any clue what you're doing. What if you're lost?

Here is one of the things she has to say about that:

Getting Lost Is An Art
- when you are lost, you find what you weren't looking for, but needed all the same
- you learn who you are
- you discover adventure
- you become creative because you have to be
- you invent new skills
- you meet entirely new worlds

Well. When you put it that way, it makes you kinda wonder why we're NOT all out there, winging it and hoping everything comes out okay, or even just hoping that something cool comes out in the surrounding mess.

People keep talking about how talented they believe I am. I'm flattered, but I never quite know what to say. Yes, I have a reasonably steady hand, and a reasonably good eye for composition, but all the rest comes down to two factors:
1. Training - I trust my pencil or my paints or my henna to behave in certain ways, just because I've used them enough to get the hang of them; and
2. A willingness to wing it. *grin*

Seriously, I know nothing about wire sculpture. I've never made one, ever. The thing where I keep talking about building a physical representation of my family tree? I have no clue whether it would even work - but I'm willing to give it a shot, because the idea looks so cool, here inside my head.

Mosaics? Dude, I'm using a stepping stone mold from the craft store, and a cookie sheet with modeling clay on it to build the actual design. I can spend for-freakin'-ever on the designs because I'm not working with wet cement until the very end.

I can say something similar about almost everything I've ever done since graduating college, and a few things I did while I was still a student. I get this cool idea in my head and I decide to see if I can make it real. I mostly have no idea what I'm doing, right up until the point where I realize I've done something so many times that I do actually get it.

Lately, I've decided to get lost in embroidery. I so totally suck at this that I'm cracking myself up - I've already sewed the thing into the embroidery hoop because I wasn't paying attention. But I'm using cotton, not silk, on muslin, not linen, and yellow thread instead of actual gold, and I'm making a bookmark instead of the front and back of a medieval almoner's purse. So, you know, who cares if I screw it up?

When you wing it, you learn things. Or, to re-use my favorite travel quote, "if you know where you're going, it's not an adventure!"

And I guess that's my summation of Holly's really nifty thought.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, embroidery! That gets into the project that I hope to have complete by the time my Munchkin graduates from high school.

    It's a baby blanket, with 25 different squares. I bought it along with a book of cute, thoughtful little designs, and about half the floss colors I'll need if I follow the book exactly.

    It'd come along faster if I actually worked on it every month, instead of just once in a while.