Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This Is Not A Light Bulb

I am having a grand time imagining the quilts I'm not actually making. But, no, really, I swear I will one day. After talking to a number of artists and hearing about their series work, I've decided I should do a whole series called This Is Not...

The series begins with the This Is Not a Cigarette quilt-- I'm actually going thrift shopping in hopes of finding what fabric I need for that today. Then I will do This is Not a Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cake, which will have a thin layer of purple and white at the top, a whole lot of dark brown in the center, and maybe a big fork on the back. What appeals to me, besides the silly homage to Magritte, is that, frankly, these pieces will fall in the Very Simple category, which is what I need to get going. Oh I find the process daunting, still haunted as I am by my eighth grade home ec's teacher palpable dismay at my "skill set" at the machine.

Today's addition the the This Is Not a Series In My Head series, is the This Is Not A Light Bulb quilt. And it is inspired by my trip this weekend to meet with Joan, Joanie and Ai. Joan and Ai both have really organized workspaces (which is not to say Joanie doesn't-- I didn't get to see hers). And Joan and I were discussing how it's important to each of us, when embarking on a new project, to clear the space.

I'm not the neatest person in the world. And as I move toward a deadline, papers and magazines and other detritus can pile up around me. But when I am really ready to move on something, I organize, sweep, mop, the works. Inspired by the conversation about art, the organization of space, and my confessions to Joan about a novel I really want to start writing, I came back to Austin and had a major light bulb moment. Big pieces of the novel started flying at me. So I started cleaning my office, which had fallen into quite a state these past few months.

As I cleaned, I listened to Fresh Air, and a segment about the new Batman movie made me realize instantly a major theme I want to include in the book. It was like the universe was rewarding me for making time to clean, because if I hadn't stopped to do that, I wouldn't have heard the radio show and thus wouldn't have had light bulbs popping on. One thought led to another and, knowing how my brain works when it comes to writing, I made myself wait about an hour before sitting down and typing up the notes that were racing around up there. That's not stupidity, the risk of losing ideas. It's pure percolation. And it worked.

Then this morning, I sat down to do my daily meditation, which is when ideally (but rarely if ever) your head clears out. Not mine. More light bulbs lighting up all over the place. I sat as long as I could (not very long) then leapt up and wrote down more notes. Pretty soon, I'm going to start using every free moment I can manage to squeeze out of the day working on this thing.

This is such a huge, added benefit of researching Quilting Art. What a privilege to get to spend so much time talking to artists, discussing form, function, process, inspiration, etc. And I just cannot wait to get cracking on the novel.

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