Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Metaphors only go so far

I can go on at length about the ways in which sewing and writing are alike; or gardening and writing; or cooking. All are creative. All involve extensive periods of drudge work and apparent negative progress. All can be done professionally or as a hobby, to formula or idiosyncratically. All have rules that, once you understand them, you can decide to break.

But you know how sewing isn't like writing? I get to decide when I'm done, and then I can use the result. Making my first pair of slacks was tough, and they aren't perfect; but when that cool front came in, I wore them. I cobbled together a blouse out of red and blue remnants, realized that required a white skirt, made the skirt, put star-shaped buttons on the blouse, and now I'm ready for the Fourth of July. Nobody can tell me to go back and fix this or that if I've decided the outfit's good enough. I don't have to submit it, collect rejections, review and tweak it every six months or so, unpick the waistband because an editor thinks it might wear better with a dart in the back, try out three or four different styles of button, and then get rejected anyway until I give up and it's packed away in a drawer, never to see the light of day.

And cooking isn't like writing, because not only do I get to sit down and eat the result without consulting anybody (whether or not my husband or the gaming group, my usual cooking audience, cares for it) but because if I mess it up there's no fixing it. Scorched rice stays scorched. I can't fix it by deleting the brown bits and adding some sauce. If I want rice, I eat it with that smoky aftertaste or I start again from scratch in a new saucepan.

And gardening isn't like writing because - well, for one thing, because I'm not remotely good at it. But even there, once in awhile, the jasmine blooms, I rake out some edible potatoes, and the mint doesn't entirely die back in the drought. But revision is a much, much bigger deal in gardening than in writing; and although adverbs sometimes grow all over a manuscript like rye grass, getting them out doesn't blister my hands.

Results. I'll take them where I can get them.

1 comment:

  1. I'm chuckling. So true! Here's to results all over the place.