I know I must force myself to write bird by bird, just the bits I can see in the headlights before me. But I think, like that car trip, I'm going to need to know where I'm going. I think I haven't finished things in the past because I started wandering from my original story line and got lost. So this week I've been toying with that driving analogy, and I've come to a few conclusions:
- I only need to write the next part, what I can see in front of me.
- Like heading out on a trip, I need to know where I'm going and have some idea of the route I will take so I'll know what the next part is.
- Like a road trip, I won't know--and don't need to know--the exact details of each part of the road before I get there. I will see those as the road unfolds before me if I just keep moving forward.
So, I will need some planning, some sketchy ideas of what my ending will be and at least some of the major scenic viewpoints along the way. But I don't think I actually need to know nearly as much of the story before I start writing as many of my books and classes have led me to believe I need. So, some light planning, a road map with thin and wavering red and blue lines, and I should be good to go, jumping back in with just writing the next bit.
So where does stitching come into all of this? After writing that bit above, I went to wash my lunch dishes. I found myself still mulling over this bird-by-bird, write only what you see in the headlights idea. And then I realized that writing is just like embroidery. No, really, it is.
When I plan an embroidery project, first I have a general idea. "Spring" or "birds" or "autumn leaves." Just like having a story idea. The next thing is to start fiddling with design elements, deciding what I want the final product to look like, what colors I want, what cloth and thread and beads will be used. Then I get the basic design--the outlines of major shapes and some sort of border to give me boundaries--down on cloth. And then I begin stitching. I stitch the big shapes in outline first. Then I start filling in the sections, first the main sections of the design then the smaller bits. Finally, I put in the final details--knots and dimensional stitches and beads--to polish it up and finish it off.
This works for me. I always end up with a finished product I like, although it never looks quite like what I envisioned when I started. Also, somewhere in the early middle stages of an embroidery I start thinking that it's awful. It's never going to work, it's going all wrong, I don't know how to make it into something I want it to be. But I calm myself down and just keep going one stitch at a time, one small section at a time... You get the picture, right? I just can't believe I never saw the analogy before! Stitching and writing, threads and words. It is the same. I can even see a little bit how to create the sketchy outline for writing the way I do for stitching. I can see that this can work for me. I just really can't believe it took me this long.