I would like to preface this post with an apology: I'm sorry that I've been so talky-talky and not crafty-crafty these past few weeks! Much like a typical, predictable human being, I do believe that I've been using the end of year/beginning of year markers as a time of reflection. And while I have, in fact, been "making" things, I've been holding out on you, dear readers, because I've got some other shit on the front burners and I have a hankering to sort it all out. And so, I choose to use this wee little platform to foist my thoughts upon you (er...I mean, share with you). Don't you feel lucky?
I'll begin by telling you that I have been reading The World According to Garp. I have an obsessive tendency to finish every book I start--even books I hate--which was how I found myself reading all of A.S. Byatt's Possession as well as John Irving's most recent book, Until I Find You, in which I am almost positive he had no editor (or a very scared editor--someone who felt too intimidated to turn on the track changes and just have at the manuscript).
It was funny that I hated that book so much, because I loved John Irving's earlier book, A Prayer for Owen Meany. Have you read this book? You should really read this book. I read Owen Meany slowly--very slowly. It was the first book I had ever read where I simply did not want it to end, where I loved opening up the book and being in Owen's world for just a few pages each day. I was 19 when I read it, so who knows how I would feel about it now. But I am certain about this: the best part about Owen Meany is that it had a great ending. Oh, how I delight in a great ending! It has to be one that you didn't see coming. It should be fairly equal parts unhappy and happy. It should be insightful, and complex, and rich. The composition should be unfussy. It should sting your eyes a bit. It should have that airport feeling, of departures and too little oxygen. Since Until I Find You was a total let-down and Owen Meany was one of the most satisfying books I've ever read, I thought I would give John Irving a tie-breaker.
The World According to Garp was actually written before Owen Meany. I have 53 pages left to read and I have no idea how it's going to end. Or what the book is about really. But I like it. Much like Owen Meany, it's about the characters. Unlike Owen Meany, I don't particularly like the world that the characters are living in. But I do appreciate this: that the main character, Garp, is a writer, and that every step of the way, he struggles with his imagination, and goes long stretches of time--years, even--without writing.
I can relate to Garp's struggle.
I read a passage earlier this week, spoken by Helen, Garp's frustrated wife: "You should do your own work, Garp. Just your own work. You used to say politics were stupid, and they meant nothing to you. You were right. They are stupid, they do mean nothing. You're doing this because it's easier than sitting down and making something up, from scratch. And you know it. You're building bookshelves all over the house, and finishing floors, and fucking around in the garden, for Christ's sake. Did I marry a handyman? Did I ever expect you to be a crusader? You should be writing the books and letting other people make the shelves." And then at the end of her speech: "That's the kind of thing people do who can't write."
Oh Helen, how right you are. Friends, it has come to my attention that for the last several years (or maybe even the last decade), I have been literally fucking around in the garden. From playing in bands to starting an Etsy business, I have done plenty of things that I enjoy (and I am extremely glad to have had those experiences), but I have not hunkered down and sunk my teeth into that activity for which I feel the most passion. I need to be writing.
Not to say that there is anything wrong with knitting, crafting, cooking, baking, or fucking around in the gardening. In fact, I think the reason I haven't been writing all of these years is because I was not sure of my topic. What do I have to say? I'm no expert. Who cares about my feelings? That's what a journal is for! This blog--this blessedly wonderful acre of land in the vast woods of ye olde internet--it is mine all mine, and it has become the topic that I was looking for all along. How did I not see this? For the past year and a half, I honestly thought I was honing my skills as a crafter, but the truth of the matter is this: I'm only a so-so crafter. I'm no great designer. I'm no artiste. And I have no interest in becoming a bag-making entrepreneur.
But I sure do like to write about it.
Perhaps my most wonderful discovery is that none of it has been wasted time. The hours and hours and the intense energy that I have poured into creating items for my Etsy shop or working in my garden--this has proved to me that I have the time and I possess a great amount focus. So why not put it toward the thing that I find the most exciting. And perhaps the most terrifying.
And so, the year begins with a slight cosmic shift. The blog is still called Knit Yourself Pretty. And it is still about making your life feel pretty through the act of making things--whether the project turns out nice or not. The posts will still contain pretty photos. I will still make things; some of those things will be ugly. But I may be saying it all a little differently from here on out. After all, I'm a writer first, crafter second. Now I know.