“A pattern just has so much possibility.”
This statement, by a friend who loves to sew, seemed counterintuitive to me. Doesn’t a pattern, by its very nature, restrict what can be done? Although I am not a seamstress or designer or even very good at putting decent clothes on myself, you would not think I should have much in common with this woman. But, we bonded over fabric. I love, love, love fabric. It is like art to me. And if I could buy new fabric every day, I would. I have no idea what I would do with any of it since I can’t sew, and without Giranimals I would be helpless at matching outfits, but still, I love the texture and color and creativity that beautiful fabric has.
So, from this context, I totally understood what my friend meant by a pattern having possibility. With one type of fabric it could be one thing… with another, something entirely different.
This, to me, is very like a story outline. Have you ever heard of writers scared to share their work with others because someone might steal their story? It is funny, sort of. Because in truth, most story lines have already been written. This is how we get the archetypes, like the hero, and villain, and jester. It is in how you put these different elements together that makes something new. And then, it is in how you dress them- not literally, obviously, but figuratively. It is the writing of the characters that brings each story to life.
And this is why, right now, I am spending a lot of time getting to know my characters from my new project, Jane and Harry. Some of them are right out there… like their very personalities, ready to jump in and get started with the writing. Malcolm, the hero, is like this. He taunts me to get started and get to know him as I write. Anna, the main character and mom, is more reserved and complex. She’s not entirely sure she is ready for her story to be told, and she is making me work at understanding her, just as she too will work throughout the story, to better understand herself. The most fun character to write is the 20 year old daughter, Tiffany. Like most new adults, she constantly feels the tension within herself of wanting to be on her own and yet hesitant to give up the innocence and security of youth.
Sooooo much possibility! Like the best pattern, my story outline lays flat on my table, ready for me to begin pinning scraps of each character onto it. I can’t wait to go on this journey with them… and with you.
"What do I do with all this stuff?"
Anyone who has moved knows the joy of facing those left-over boxes piled in the garage, or attic, or basement. You know the ones... they've been dragged around from house to house, through move after move, because, well... what else are you supposed to do with the stuff inside?
We face a wall of these in our basement now. And, if I want to claim back the space for tv watching or working out I have to cull their contents. "We'll each take one box a month," my husband and I promised each other. We would do it together. Hold testimony for the contents before all of those notebooks filled with appointments, all of the bank statements with early pay deposits, all of the high school notes passed in class, disappear, poof, into the historical memory of accomplishments, fears, joy and tears.
Eight months into our move and we are on box five. It turns out that what is daunting to approach is even more daunting to siphon through. I'd like to say we have plowed through and tossed the lot. But, in fact, much remains, now tucked safely (ha) into fresh clean boxes that at least look nicer than the old beat up ones.
But... here's the thing... how do you toss the card that came with the birthday flowers from your then boyfriend, now husband? And what about the Christmas card from that friend you've always meant to get back in touch with and who, at least used to, live in the same city where you now reside? (Janine.... yes, it's me, from EY.... consider this your invitation to email... I'd love to hear from you!)
In one notebook, back from my suit days at Barclays Bank in England, I found a diatribe on why I wanted to kick people (look for it in the next post.) That's priceless, right? In another, I found a bunch of poems I wrote... just put down in this notebook otherwise filled up with meeting notes and technical plans, two wings stretching from the pages, wanting to fly. I'm grateful I now, at least, have a place for these. You can read them on my Writings page on this website: /my-writings.html
Today much of the content in these boxes doesn't even exist except in the ether. We text and email. Send online cards, and photos sit in our laptop.... Thousands of them filling up as many boxes as would fill an entire house. Will we go through these someday... hoping to find that one poem or card; the treasure a wisp of memory assures us is there?
What is in the boxes in your attic or basement? I promise you a most amazing journey if you just open the lid....
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