Thursday, September 4, 2008

Book Finished! Everything Coming Up Roses!

Once again, I've let a good stretch lapse between posts. I finally had to buckle down and get the book finished. The deadline was September 1st. I turned in the manuscript late on August 31st. The goal was to go to the beach for a few days to unwind after that but Hurricane Gustav dashed those plans. And also, without stopping to breathe deeply, I dove right into researching my next book, a lost-at-sea saga that is going to be very intense in both the organizing and the telling.

But despite that, I am feeling some relief at finishing Quilting Art. And to trot out an overused analogy, writing it was like making a quilt. I had all this great material to work with, material I had gathered all over the place in my travels. And I had to cut it and piece it together and make it into something others can appreciate.

Even though it's a tired metaphor, it remains apt. And I actually reminded myself, as I worked, that really, I was working on the written equivalent of an art quilt. The book was such a departure for me-- my first three books were memoir/first person. And even my fourth book, which was about quilts, had a big first person component. Not this one. Yes, I do a little first person commentary in the introduction. But after that it's me telling the stories of others.

That turned out to be a great experiment for me. I know I'm not totally done writing accounts from my own life. Which, of course, is why I blog. But a part of me feels at peace with a lot of the stuff I used to work through in my memoirs. And I realize that, after over twenty years of reporting-- my bread and butter work-- I've gotten really good at listening to other people's stories, and observing them closely, and zooming in on the details needed to paint a decent portrait of them.

So now the writing doesn't feel hard. Which isn't to say it's easy. But I'm not swinging in the dark anymore and I have a good idea, going into a project, of the size and shape it will take in the end. Very nice to be on this perch after literally decades of honing my skills.

Hopefully, very soon, I'll resume running interviews and stories here of art quilters. For now, it's nose to the grindstone with the new book proposal and, okay, a little relaxation, too.