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.