Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Art? Craft? Both?

This is from October of 2014. It's about writing--which you understand by now is bound to happen. It was a lovely and loving time and I enjoyed finding it. I hope you enjoy reading it.

I grew up loving quilts. I have ones that were made by my great grandmother, my
grandmother, and my Aunt Nellie. They’re old and beautiful, with tiny stitches and scraps of memories scattered over them like the leaves that are rustling through my yard these days. While I treasure the quilts and the memories, making quilts wasn’t something I ever truly thought I’d do. For one simple reason.
They are art.

I am a writer. I’ve had nine books published and am still at it. There is little that I love more than writing, but it’s a craft to me, not an art. Some writers are artists, and I writhe with envy when I read their books, but I am not. This is okay with me. I just write.

But then I had grandchildren—they are seven of the things I love more than writing. When I got ready to retire, I was afraid—for one wild, crazy instant—that I would be bored, so I thought why not go ahead and make a quilt for each grandchild? Not fancy like the old ones I have that would require anything artistic of me, but simpler patterns. After all, I liked to sew. How hard could it be?
It could be hard. And it was. Especially since I haven’t had a single minute of boredom since I retired—there hasn’t been time. Five of those nine books have been published in the three and a half years since retirement, six of the seven quilts are made, and I’ve never had so much fun in my entire life.
Quilts tend to consume the person who’s making them. I started out with a 6-inch by 24-inch ruler, a rotary cutter, a cutting mat, and enough fabric for the quilt I was making. I now have many rulers, many cutters, a mat that completely covers my cutting table, and enough fabric to cover a small country.
Years ago, I wrote a book called The Debutante’s Second Chance, a Silhouette Special Edition. In it, the heroine made a quilt. It was incidental. When I wrote A Soft Place to Fall, the heroine opened a quilt shop, and it wasn’t incidental at all. In my newest book, Back to McGuffey’s, Kate is a lover of quilts. In my work-in-progress, Arlie has a quilt room many of us would cheerfully die for. Quilting and writing have over time become inextricably intertwined.
I’m working on Number Seven on my grandkids’ quilts. It’s still a craft to me; I can’t do anything without a pattern and need help choosing fabric every single time. Likewise, I’m working on my Number Ten book and I’m still a craftsman, not an artist. And it’s still okay with me.

What I love, and what maybe is a little artistic, is what is alike in books and quilts. They both have stories to tell, they’ll both be around for children and grandchildren, they both contain beloved memories within their construction. Not big memories, perhaps, like wedding days or births or even bittersweet goodbyes, but ones that lie gentle in the pockets behind their owners’ hearts. When the quilts are used or the books read, the memories slip out and create magic.

And there it is. Whether writers and/or sewists are artists or craftsmen, we have the opportunity to create magic. Aren’t we the lucky ones?

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