I wasn’t the only one worn out by our IKEA adventures.
Poor Nicholas fell asleep on the sofa today in the midst of grading papers. After I took that picture, I covered him with a warm thing and tucked him in, and the dog came up and sniffed him to make sure he was OK, and then all the cats had to check out the situation, because a sleeping human makes a very good cat mattress.
And the poor tired dude just kept right on sleeping…
I knitted on his Super Secret Yule Gift for a while, then went on to do whatever it is that I, uh…do.
What is it, exactly, that I do?
Yesterday, as I hit the Publish button on my post, I felt like I hadn’t really done a proper blog entry. As I knit away on the Super Secret Yule Gift, I had myself a good think: What is a proper blog entry? Why do sometimes I feel satisfied, as though a thirst has been quenched, and sometimes I feel as though something is lacking, despite the day’s few hundred words to the contrary?
I know a lot of writers set themselves a word-count goal each day; yesterday, I certainly did not meet anyone’s word-count goal. I was so tired it was all I could do to post the photos. But it doesn’t seem that sheer volume is what quenches the inner thirst: Some days, I write very little, and yet I still feel that sense of satisfaction, that sense of I Did It.
Whatever “It” is…
When I tell folks I am a writer, inevitably, they ask what sort of writer I am. I’m testing out different answers.
“I’m a knitting writer. I write knitting patterns, and instructions, and essays.”
“I write about crafts and craftspeople and what it means to make art part of your daily life.”
“I write funny articles about knitting.”
“I’m a blogger. I write about my life as a professional knitter.”
Good heavens. All of that sounds so pretentious, and none of it sounds like ME. It doesn’t begin to touch how I feel about my own writing, or the place where writing lives within my heart.
The phrase that pops into my mouth most often is the first one above: “I’m a knitting writer.” The way I hear it in my head, though, it’s said so that it means “I’m a writer who knits” rather than “I write about knitting.” I do write about knitting, of course; and spinning, and weaving, and beading, and my cats and my dog and IKEA and just about anything else that comes into my head. It’s the writing itself that I have to do, that I must do in order to make my way through this world intact and whole; the knitting and spinning and fibre stuff…yeah, all right. I have to do that, too, to be whole.
No matter what the words are that I use to describe myself, I can’t figure out what it is that I do. By which I mean: What is it about my writing that I need to accomplish in order to feel satisfied? And, I suppose, I’m fascinated by the corollary: What is it about my writing that keeps all of you reading? Even on the days when I think I suck, you’re there, reading along, commenting, encouraging me…why? I don’t even know what I’m getting out of my writing–what the heck are YOU getting out of it?
Some writers tell us stories, and we read their stories to be led into another time, another world, another story other than our own. We read the work of storytellers to ride the magic carpet, to ride a motorcycle, to ride the waves of Oahu, all without leaving our comfy chairs.
Some writers make us laugh at everyday things. This is why I love Allie, the writer of Hyperbole and a Half, so much: She writes about Regular Stuff, and few comedy writers can make me howl with laughter the way she does with her stick-figure cartoons and her wacky wisdom on things dogs and cake and the Internet. (Stephanie is in this category, as well, of course: The woman was telling me a story about her furnace being inspected, and I swear I thought I was going to pee my pants, right then and there.)
Well, I’m kind of a storyteller. And I’m kind of funny…but I don’t think that is what It is, the thing which makes my writing worth writing or reading.
I think…I think what I do is I make connections. Connections between people, connections between experiences and people, connections between thoughts and heart. I’m not sure, and perhaps it doesn’t matter.
Except that if I understood what it is, this thing that I do, then maybe I could learn to do it better, the way a gifted singer learns to use her voice more consistently, more powerfully, more skillfully. Carrie Underwood, for example, knows her singing gift is quite different than that of, say, Dolly Parton.
Carrie’s got a big, smooth, full, rich voice, and no doubt she works with a coach to learn how to make each song big and smooth and rich. Dolly’s a country storyteller, where twang and attitude are just as important as note and tone. Dolly’s learned how to tell stories in her songs, how to use her face and her hands to move the story along, when to twang and when to put her hand on her hip and let loose.
I need to figure out what it is that I do, so I can hone my skills, practice my craft, and not just flail around in a blog composition window half the time.
Today’s Random Good
Baby, it’s cold outside…