This past week I met with my wonderful Writers Group for our twice-monthly meeting. We had life to fill each other in on, pictures to look at, Girl Scout cookies to distribute, and a manuscript to critique. I sat in my chair, watching these extremely talented friends of mine discuss what makes a story work.
A children's novel is such an intricately woven dance of character, setting, story, rhythm, reader's inference, style, imagery, and ultimately author's passion. I marvel constantly about how much work it takes a writer to weave their masterpiece tightly, beautifully, and right.
We've all read novels that we finish, so we can figure out what happened, but really we'd just been skimming by the end because the weaving just wasn't right. And we've all read the novels that had us so enthralled by the flow and imagination that we found ourselves woven right in to the plot. We didn't want it to end. The story worked.
So there I sat, watching the work of a group, and an author stretching to weave the story out of her brain onto paper. Our group is good at pulling on threads. We have been together long enough to grab where needed, twist at just the right time, and recognize when colors need to be toned just a bit differently to tie it all together. We talked, and grabbed, and wove, and worked.
This is writing. This is critiquing. This is art. This is work.
Many years ago, my sister in law gave me sign to hang in my quilt room. It reads, 'When life gives you scraps, make quilts'. Since then, as life has moved on for me, and my quilting time has diminished, I don't get to make as many physical quilts as I used to. Someday I hope to again, but in the meantime, I try to remember to make 'quilts' anyway.
I've always viewed a quilt as a sincere representation of love. Precious time, energy, talents, passion, inspiration, whimsy, hours of thoughts, and personal sacrifice are all wrapped up in a cozy package for someone I love. I hope when they wrap up in it, or tuck it in on their bed, they know how much of me is right there with them.
So when life is giving me scraps - in the form of high stress situations, or downright injustice - I hope I can carefully take those pieces, analyze their pattern and color, and work out a plan. Hopefully, with time and inspiration, I can build something unique and beautiful to carry with me and eventually share with the ones I love. This can be another part of me, of who I am becoming.
The sewing becomes as sweet as the wrapping in.
Writing for children is a passion - along with reading kid's books, writing plays for kids, and teaching kids how to write!