Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Knitting = Writing

I've been doing some rewriting recently ,at the same I've been working on some knitting projects and I realized as I ripped out my knitting for the third time in as many days, how similar it is to the writing process.

Both begin with a plan: an outline for my novel and a pattern for my hat.

Both usually go off the rails at some point and need to be pulled back in -but each one gets easier the more often you do it. The very first time I began a major rewrite, I was terrified I wasn't going to make it better but only worse. Same with knitting. I was afraid to pull it apart, afraid I would never get it together again. And in both cases, I survived the trauma to do it again. And again. And now, I don't even blink when I have to do either one.

Both require you to progress gradually. I've knit many of the same items over and over again: scarves and leg warmers in different colors and textures but they're still the same thing. And as with books, I've wanted to try different things, different projects, different yarns. But I can't move forward until I've done enough so that these feel like second nature to me, so I don't have to return to my instruction guide and figure out what a slipped stitch is or what it means to pass over yarn.

Similarly, with writing, I've been aching to branch out into other types of stories, with different characters and dialogue and situations - those, perhaps, that my previous books wouldn't have broached. But to get there, I had to go through what I did. I had to write a couple of crappy books in first person before I understood how to write in that POV. I had to attempt some other ways of writing, read more material by other people, before I could take the risk - albeit a confident one - and try something new. Short stories helped.

Eventually, both my writing and knitting projects must go somewhere else, to someone else, for approval - to be read or worn. Unless I want a pile of scarves on my floor - or a dozen manuscripts under my bed - I have to let them go. I've gotten to be a good judge of my writing and my knitting so I am pretty confident that whoever is getting what I'm sending will like it. But every once in a while, I'm surprised - in both good and bad ways.