Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Quirks and Crochet

I want to say every writer has their quirks but how would I really know that. I don't know every writer. So all I can say is that many writers have quirks. Julia Alvarez likes to run after her writing day to work out kinks and get ideas. She also likes to iron in the middle of her writing day when she takes a break. Virginia Woolf wrote standing up until she exhausted herself and her husband made her stop. Her idea was that if her sister could paint standing she could write standing. Woolf also worked in the tub, and sometimes wrote while knitting. Toni Morrison learned to write while cooking and taking care of her kids because she had to. I can't cook in the first place so the last thing I need is to throw writing into the middle of making pancakes or eggs. J. California Cooper only writes when it rains and likes to listen to music too.

Me? I have to have a specific pen or it drives me crazy trying to write with ink that doesn't flow smoothly. Other than that I'm trying new things out. I've written while listening to music but usually I only do that with schoolwork or things that have a specific tone that I can match with my minimal selection of tunes. Lately I've been writing in a specific chair in the living room first thing at 7:30 in the morning, but let's face it, it's getting cold and sitting by that window doesn't do much for me when I would rather live in summer for the rest of my life. I hate the cold. A girl in one of my classes writes in the closet, so yesterday when I woke and couldn't go to the living room because my friend was asleep on my couch, I settled down on two cushions in the closet and began to work freehand on my novel. It was fantastic. I love this closet space. I'm sitting in it right now. I have the door open even though there is a light in here. I really can't explain what it is about this closet but it works.

Other things I might try? I don't know how to knit like Woolf but I do know the very basics of crochet. In fact I was crocheting in this closet before I started writing this. It actually helped me work out some ideas even if I was listening to music at the same time. I remember learning to crochet very young from my grandmother. She crochets everything, blankets, table cloths, and they are all very beautiful with bright colors and elaborate patterns. Funny enough, she never learned to knit either. I love that, I don't know why, but I do.

I was five years old, not yet in kindergarten, sitting in the livingroom with my then best friend Heather. I had a large crochet needle in my hand and a roll of yarn in my lap. I didn't have a clue of what to do. We must have been entertaining company. I say this because I asked my mother to show me how to crochet and she took the needle and yarn in her hands and flew through several stitches (I don't know if they are actually called stitches) then handed it back to me and said "There." She turned back to our guest. "Wait, but how do you do it?" I asked. She took the yarn again, did an inch and handed it back to me. "That's all," She said. "But it's not done," I said. She was called away at that moment and I was left lost not knowing which end of the needle did what. Maybe that's why even today I crochet inside out, that is, according to my mom. I don't care, if it gets done it gets done.

My sister learned faster than me and being four years older it wasn't a surprise. She used to sit with her yarn and needle and crochet the yarn into balls the size of a tennis ball. I can't even imagine how she did it but she did. I think it must have been her favorite thing to crochet because it's the only thing I remember her making: crochet balls. My grandmother would look at her, shake her head and ask "What are you making?" "A ball," my sister replied. "Why?" my grandmother asked. "Because I want to," was all my sister said. I'm sure my grandmother had some retort to that but I only remember her shaking her head some more. Every time she saw my sister curled up on the sofa crocheting a ball she would ask her the same question. "What are you making?" and the whole conversation would start over. Eventually my sister stopped crocheting completely. Maybe she just got tired of my grandmother shaking her head.

I love to crochet but I'm terrible at it. Yet it did get me writing this after nine and a half hours of non-stop class instead of going stupid in front of the television like I usually do on Tuesday nights, so maybe there is something to it.

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