I turned down all my New Year’s Eve offers so that I could fiddle with S.’s sewing machine and get started on my quilt. It’s terrible. I mean, whew, doggie, terrible. But here’s the important thing, if you are about to set off on any new crafting skill. The first one will suck. No way around it. So, just get on with the sucking, you know? I thought I’d just do stacks of rectangles, but none of my rectangles are square so the stacks were, just six rectangles in, obviously not going to be square, so I have switched to squares, which are hilariously off-kilter.
But I really like the fabric and the quilt’s not for anyone but me, so I’m not too worried about it. Even just looking at what I have pieced together, it looks hilariously bad, but also really good. So, I’m kind of digging it. I guess the trick is to use fabric you like so that it’s easy enough to overlook that you don’t know what you’re doing.
It’s funny. My mom taught me to sew and I don’t remember sewing a lot of things on her machine, but the biggest problem I’m having with S.’s machine is the muscle memory that keeps reaching for the wrong spot to lift up the foot. I even did all the bobbin stuff myself, which involved adjusting the tension, so I felt like a pro. And then, I threaded the needle on the first try! Only to then realize that the machine has an automatic needle threader. Hilariously enough, I can’t figure out how to use it, so I’ve just been threading the needle myself when I have to, which I have had to a few times when I am not careful.
I won’t tell you how many times I had to pull a whole seam out. Okay–four. But that’s when I developed my grand theory of “The first one is just going to suck and it’s okay.” It’s easy to be cheery about sucky things when you accept that that’s the learning experience. Plus, I don’t plan on becoming a grand quilt maker so I didn’t buy all the tools that I’m sure make your first time suck much less. But, if I do this again, I will, believe me.
Writing is going at a much slower pace. I know what I want to have happen in Chapter 5 (right now the last chapter) and I know where I am now, but I’m not sure how to get from where I am now to chapter five. And I’m very nervous about the next draft. I’ve never written something this long, so I’ve never really needed to do actual second drafts of things. I just wrote something and then edited it until I liked it.
But with something this length, I’m starting to get an understanding of why you’d need to actually rewrite things, and it scares me a little bit. I know it needs to be done, but I’m not sure how to go about it. Which, weirdly, brings me back to the quilting stuff. I may just need to come to accept that the first novel sucks and just do it for the sake of having written something that length to see how it goes.
And, like the quilt, I’m not sure “sucks” shuts off the possibility of “interesting” and “beautiful” and “something I really love,” so there’s that. This quilting shit may be more useful than I know.
I need to go take a picture of what’s going on so you can see.
The quilts from Gee’s Bend “suck” too. So you’re in good company, with both the quilt and the novel.
I never learned to sew. This summer my friend sent me her machine because she hates it, I wanted it, and she wanted me to make baby clothes out of her husband’s heavy metal t-shirts. So I did. You would think that would’ve given me some level of competence, but no. I just made myself a patchwork bathrobe out of old t-shirts. The squares were, I swear to the gods, measured out. I used a pattern! But there must have been trolls in the scissors or something. Luckily the robe is meant to be ugly, and I take pride in its ugliness. I am also reminded that I will never open an etsy shop selling my sewing.
I decided I’d make a crocheted doll sweater for my kid’s doll the other day. I haven’t crocheted in 25 years and I had no pattern and so all the stars were aligned for suckage. However, because it was for a doll and I didn’t have great expectations that it was going to define doll sweaterness, it was a lot of fun and the doll is, I suppose, nice and cozy. Now I’m going to step it up to lopsided hats with panda ears and other fun stuff I can dream up, now that I’ve learned to think in three dimensions with yarn.
I’m learning sheet metal working and I’m in the ‘it’s gonna suck stage’ too! I’m trying to make a box of a certain size and so far I have ‘too big and seriously wonky’ and ‘smallish and two sides are off’. But hey, I’m getting closer and I like the learning curve…
I read this today about first drafts. I thought about this post you wrote. Hope you can glean something from this to help you.
I own that book! But I am glad you brought this to my attention, because lord do I need it.
I should have known you were eight steps ahead of me on this.
Actually, this draft thing is exactly what holds me back. Well, that and mental laziness. I want it to be perfect as it flows from my fingertips to the keyboard to the monitor. I struggle with just throwing it on the screen and it not being what I imagined or dreamed of.
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