Detail of Sandra German quilt, from Sandy's Quilt Complex
Do you ever start writing a story and find it just isn’t going well? Do you then wad it up in disgust and throw it in the trash? Or hit the delete button? There’s hardly a writer alive who wouldn’t admit to that response to frustration, but you may want to think twice before doing it again.
Not long ago I attended a program at the library presented by Sandy German, a local quilter of international renown. As she paraded out one dazzling quilt after another, each more stunning and provocative than the last, she explained how each quilt came about. I began to notice that she often commented, “I never plan my quilts. I just start working, and they grow into what they are supposed to be.” Or something like that.
I finally had to ask, “Do you ever start a project and find it just isn’t going well; that the whole thing was a mistake?”
She paused and smiled her great big Mother Earth smile before she answered, “There are no mistakes, only unfinished projects. I have stacks of boxes full of projects that are still waiting to find their final shapes.”
I understood exactly what she meant. I have several megabytes of story scraps that haven’t yet found their story shape. Now and then I pull one out and stitch it into a larger story. The rest are still waiting for their time. Unfinished writing projects take way less storage space than unfinished quilting projects, especially if they aren’t on paper.
Write now: pull out a story scrap and finish the story. Don’t worry about truth, or what really happened, or what form it should take. Just finish the story. Then, if you still don’t like it, put it back in the unfinished pile — or indulge in the dubious pleasure of ripping it to shreds. At least you finished it.
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal