Competitive Collaboration Redux

There are certain parts of this process that trip me up every time. This challenge is one we’ve talked about before and my answer is pretty much the same.

#DareToExcel Challenge – 11:

Reach out to a collaborator. Define at least one such person.

Draft notes about the following and share: What will you ask of that person? How can you frame your ask in a way that the person recognizes what is of value to her or him? How can you frame the ask in a way that will resonate with a meaningful ideal that transcends both of your self-interest? Hint: Go back to your burning question, and go back to who it’s for.

Bonus points if you actually ask the person within the next two days! Dare you!

Back in February, my answer was this:

This is a great question and one I think about often. In fact, I do have a list of people and ideas. But for now, that’s where this whole discussion needs to stay, for two reasons:

  1. I have given up dealing with the Big Picture for Lent. Obsessing over what I might do some day has been preventing me from taking the small daily steps that I need to take to get me there. So far, it has made a huge difference in my mindset, if not yet my actual productivity. And I need the productivity to catch up. Come the end of Lent, it may be time to reclaim my relationship with the Big Picture, but from where I sit today, I’m pretty sure it won’t.
  2. I’m not ready. Not in a “I need everything to be perfect kind of way,” in a “I need to solidify my own foundation before even considering collaborating with others,” kind of way.

I need to find my stride, build my own voice and vision, become who I need to be in my own right BEFORE inviting anyone else in. Until I do, this week’s more detailed questions have no place in my process. Until I do, I will continue to focus on doing my own physical work, and occasionally, as lightning strikes, adding a name to my list.

My Big Picture challenge for Lent is over, so that is no longer a stumbling block, but the rest continues to hold true. My life has changed dramatically since this post. Very important relationships have ended, leaving a hole that has resisted healing. My financial and work situations have changed–not all for the better. The stress resulting from these changes has triggered health issues that need attention and, in some cases, intervention.

BUT… out of the resulting maelstrom has come a new focus–one that better encompasses the most important values and ideas from the last 8 months of introspection beginning with the #Quest challenge in December. So while I still have a list of people and ideas, I find myself needing once again to solidify, if not completely rebuild, my own foundation.

As I noted on the last day of last year, I chose the word CULTIVATE to guide my work in 2015. Seven months later, with everything going on, that word no longer quite fits what I need. Cultivate is about tilling, planting, growing, encouraging. I need a word that represents gathering of all of my lost, damaged, and disparate loves, ideas, and pieces of myself, bringing them all together to mix and steep, and meld into something that can feed not only me, but the world. This time has become a time of reclaiming, healing, reflecting. Yes, the time for connecting, collaborating, building will come. But that time is not now. Now is the time of COMPOST–of allowing the alchemy of time and space and chemistry to transform what no longer seems edible, viable, useful into the elixir from which everything grows.

Revenue and Reach

#DareToExcel Challenge – 10:

Define one specific experiment for growth and change for this month in revenue or reach.

This experiment can be related to the one small project. But this time I ask you to frame the experiment in these terms, If I did X, then would Y result? 

For instance:
If I wrote and published relevant content every week, would I feel better and reach # more people?

If I reached out to 3 people this month for possible connection or collaboration, would one of them lead to an exciting new venture? 

If my business focused less on _____ and more on ______, would this lead to more customers? 

If I wrote poetry with no imagery for a month, would I discover another way to write poems? (Okay, that last one was not related to reach or revenue, but I include its ilk as an option.)

My answer:

If I worked on one unfinished quilt daily, would I be able to give myself a little more financial breathing room by selling the finished quilts?

Quilting PandemonionAlthough my time this month has run too short to actually implement this experiment, I will begin next month:

  • Stitching daily
  • Posting finished quilts for sale to Facebook and this site
  • Anything that doesn’t sell will be held for sale at one or more of our local holiday craft fairs

Ideally I will make enough to skim a little money to spend on needles and thread.

Prototype

I have to admit, I find my book project a bit daunting. It’s larger and more complex than any book I’ve written before, and when someone I respect asked if I thought it might be over ambitious, I had to ask myself whether he might be right. But then again, I have to do it anyway.

Today’s challenge provides one way to test whether the story has legs without having to struggle through the whole 90,000 (or more) complicated words of it. Without entangling myself too much before I even start.

#DareToExcel Challenge #9:

Sometimes big ideas daunt us because of their big-ness.  Instead of trying to “publish” your project in full form, how could you test it out on a smaller audience? Maybe even behind-the-scenes?

  • Define the prototype–what you actually will create at a significantly reduced scale; allow for messiness, allow for mistakes and imperfections
  • Define what you’re testing for
  • Invite a few people behind the scenes
  • Invite feedback

In the words of Lean Start-up author Eric Riess, then decide whether to move forward and persevere to publish the big project or to pivot toward a different project

I’ve actually done a little bit of this already, sharing the story and structure of the book with a few select people. I’ve gotten very positive responses and some important questions to ponder. I’ve learned that the story is important and needs telling, not just for me, but for its audience as well. I’ve learned that just because the protagonist and her struggle is based on me, doesn’t mean she is me, which means I can fictionalize it, freeing me from a lot of anxiety around how to map my life to the story without making it feel forced. But I have more to learn. To that end, I will:

  1. Create a short treatment of the book–either a plot summary, concept teaser, or short story
  2. Test for proof of theme and concept, whether people find it valuable, and if the complex structure works
  3. Share it with a select 3 to 5 individuals to start (I already have 3 people in mind)
  4. Where possible, follow up with a phone call to gather and discuss feedback; where phone doesn’t work, I’ll use online chat

I’d like to have the prototype complete by the end of July, but with everything I have going on right now, it will more likely be mid August.

Regardless of the results, I know this story must be told, but how it gets written and what form it takes are still in flux. Who knows, it could turn into a screenplay, a series of quilts with associated poems, a blog series, a travelog, an online self-help workshop… perhaps even more than one of these over time.

In this world of endless possibilities it can be easy to get lost. This prototype idea seems like a great way to define one small concrete part–an anchor to still the drift, a cornerstone, perhaps, upon which the rest can be built.

 

Celebrate Each Tiny Step

#DareToExcel Challenge – 8:

Take time during the next two days to look back on the past two weeks and acknowledge any positive changes you have noticed during the past two weeks in terms of how you feel, how you are paying attention more to what matters (challenges and all), any new relationships you’re striking up.

Write down and share what you are celebrating. When you celebrate in public, others get to celebrate with you. Your celebrations are not self-centered. They are uplifting to your peers and to your audiences and customers. So what are you waiting for? Howl out and lift us up!

Halfway through July’s #DareToExcel and it’s time to celebrate our accomplishments. Why is that always so much harder than it sounds? Probably because what’s left to do seems so much bigger than what’s already done. But it’s precisely that illusion that makes this challenge so important.

So what positive changes have I made so far?

  • I accepted the challenge in an effort to pull me out of the morass I’d been stuck in since the end of March
  • I wrote down my two most burning questions: “what if I focus on making instead of mulling?”, and “what if the story is wrong?” (which really leads to the more important question: “what if we changed the story?”)
  • I committed to one small project (Hands in Motion, Mind at Rest) to help clear mental, emotional, and physical space for my one big project, the book referred to as 3T
  • I have been practicing Hands in Motion, Mind at Rest, if not every day, at least most, and am now just 3 long seams away from finishing a quilt started more than three years ago, making me feel lighter, more focused, and like I’m actually getting stuff done; I can’t wait to finish it and move on to the next
  • I identified three young genius traits that I want to reintegrate into my life and work: Vibrancy, Resilience, and Freedom
  • I identified my audience for the book–something I’ve always been reluctant to do–and in doing so gave myself a renewed sense of purpose
  • I identified a skill that I need to cultivate in order to improve my chances of completing my small and large projects, and while I called it “saying no” it’s actually about discernment, which also includes attention to what I need to say yes to, in some cases making tradeoffs–saying yes to one thing in order to release something else
  • I identified my cross-training and versatile heritage skills–sewing, mindfulness, writing, research, and content architecture, but realize now that there are others that are less obvious and in some ways more powerful: creating a backyard homestead garden, learning belly dance and performing on stage, writing several NaNoWriMo novels, and learning how to fly a plane, all of which taught me about focus, dedication, dealing with uncertainty and obstacles, and facing some of my most long-held and agonizing fears
  • I took a look at my relationship with time and realized much of the drowning churn was of my own making
  • I continued to take my #365 daily photos, getting myself out of the house and into the world, all the while staying focused on the concrete world around me, and the beauty there, even in things that don’t at first seem beautiful
  • And perhaps most importantly, I have begun talking about collaborations and getting more involved with other people’s projects–sharing my immune disorder story with Tracee Vetting Wolf for her project, discussing a possible short story collection with Brenna Layne, and attending Jeffrey Davis‘ Tracking Wonder event in Albuquerque where I met some great people and got some great advice about my book from the man himself

Seeing the list written down like this makes me realize how much I’ve accomplished in only two short weeks. Yes I still have a long way to go, but if I can maintain this level of progress for the second two weeks of the challenge and beyond, there’s no telling what I can accomplish.

Time is a River

#DareToExcel Challenge – 7:

Commit to viewing time differently from this day forward. Here are two invitations:

#1 – Draw a new relationship to time: The first one is an exercise that engages your faculties beyond the analytical-rational mind to help you rise above the “good enough” plateau and to dare to excel:

Draw a symbol or describe symbolically your existing relationship to time. What does Time look like? Move like? Feel like in terms of weight or texture? How do you two relate? Then do the same for your desired relationship to time that would let you excel? What does that Time look like? Move like? Feel like?

Share a pic of what you create with us and online.

#2 – Get outside of yourself: What one thing could you do to shift your relationship to time? How could you get outside of your office, outside of your habitual work flow, and do something so seemingly unproductive as to take a walk in the park, bicycle down the road, or watch the sunset for 10 minutes? Okay – don’t just write about it. Do it! Dare you!

  1. Time is a river, and I have never been much of a swimmer. Still, I always seem to draft into the fast, deep water where I flail and flounder and gasp for breath as I try, often unsuccessfully, to stay afloat as I swim against the current toward my desired destination. It moves too fast, runs too deep, pulls me under, weighted as I am with too many and too much… And yet, near the shore it is slower, shallower, shaded by broad-leafed trees. On the bank, near the gently swirling pool, there is a fallen log where I could rest, and a patch of dry sand where I could put down what I carry, sort through the unwieldy mass of projects, goals, desires I have collected and cull what I no longer need. And there, down the river a bit, is a collection of driftwood, and beyond, a few steps into the trees are vines I could use to lash them together, to create a raft, a rudder, two oars. Perhaps this bag I’ve been using to hold all the once-treasures, once-obsessions, once-necessary evils, can be used instead for shade now that the things I carry can fit easily in the two cargo pockets of my long, plaid shorts.
  2. The #365 photo project I started in January requires that every day I get up off my chair and walk out into the world. To notice the play of light and shadow on my casita’s clay walls. To let my eyes stray to the shapes of clouds, the drop of petals from a sun-baked flower. To search in ever-widening circles for beauty in all its forms. Some days I search for an hour or more. Some days I simply look out my door. But I do it. Every day. I pause for a moment and smell the flowers or petrichor.

 

Compost

Compost. That’s the first word that sprang to mind when I read this challenge. Reclaiming the past to feed the future. I’ve done versions of this challenge before, but each time there is something new to learn–not the least of which is just how full of experience, knowledge, and important skills my life really is.

#DareToExcel Challenge – 6:

Cross-training is defined as how working on one project or in one field can complement your endeavors in another field. Cross-training can happen sequentially (e.g., your work in your 20s can help your work in your 40s) or simultaneously (e.g. the thinking required in your work as a lawyer can help you in your book project).

Versatile heritage is defined as the repurposing of previous experience in a current endeavor. For example, you may have previous experience in art or design. This experience can then inform your work in marketing or coaching.

What unique skills and experiences do you already possess that you can bring to your project?

List 1-5 existing skills you have developed from previous experiences and work that you are bringing forward to this project. 

First, the meditative sewing portion of the program:

  • Sewing & Quilting: I made my first quilt when I was 10, and have completed more than 40 since then, with several more in progress. What that means for this project is that deep attention is no longer required, allowing my mind to rest as I stitch.
  • Meditation practice: Although I wouldn’t say I have deep experience with meditation, I have studied both sitting meditation and writing practice with Natalie Goldberg and others, which means I have some experience and the basic skills to build on.

Then onto the book:

  • Research: Undergraduate and graduate school, writing for a museum publication and novels, and many years working in the content realm for a variety of tech companies and departments, have helped me develop some seriously kick-ass research skills–both online and in the real world. But beyond that, research is one of my great loves, so even when I’m not doing it for a project, I’m hunting down data, trends, and histories out of personal interest. Research is best when it’s full-immersion–books, movies, music, photos on the walls… I want to be able to slip completely into that other world.
  • Writing: Again, academia and my work experience have molded me into a professional writer with a wide variety of skills: I’ve written magazine articles for the Exploratorium Quarterly, crafted editorial experiences for Walmart.com, worked as a tech writer, marketing writer, advertising writer, newsletter (and e-newsletter) writer, social media writer, website copywriter, blogger, content and story editor, and proofreader. I’ve written and published poems and micro-fiction, completed drafts of 5 novels, many short stories, and two screenplays. I’ve also attended multiple writing retreats with author Natalie Goldberg. That’s more than 17 years focused on all aspects of the craft.
  • Content Architecture & Strategy: My professional writing career started with newsletter and catalog work–creating categories, writing copy, crafting flow between pages. From there I moved on to website content architecture and navigation–what appears on each page and how you move between them. These skills are essential in any written work, especially those with complex or interlaced story structures, which happen to be my favorite to write. My current project contains three distinct but connected story lines which will require unwavering attention to chronology, points of intersection, flow, and detail. Suffice it to say, there will be color and time-coded story architecture diagrams. Lots of them.

And of course, my whole #onesmallproject is a form of cross-training–sewing as a way to clear physical and mental space for the larger project I need to bring into the world.

But of course I’m going to add one more, in the form of a riddle:

What do gardening, belly dancing, learning to fly an airplane, and writing a book have in common?

Answer:

They all require mastery of a million tiny nuanced parts, profound courage, and deep faith that one small step can lead to the journey of a lifetime and with it, the opportunity to transport others into a completely different world.

Saying No

Yesterday when the new dare arrived in my inbox I took one look at it then closed it again. Part of it was the overwhelm at trying to figure out how to add one more thing to my already over-full plate. The other part was overwhelm at how could I possibly choose just one skill from an infinite number of possibly necessary skills that might make a critical difference for my project and my life. Luckily, with a little distance I discovered the answer to the challenge hidden in that second overwhelm–though upon reflection, it wasn’t hidden at all. In fact, it was pretty much grabbing me by the shirt collar and trying to shake me awake.

#DareToExcel Challenge – 5:

To live your question, what new #skillset do you need and want to develop this month and beyond to execute your one project exceptionally well? What existing skill set do you need and want to hone and sharpen? How can you do so more intentionally? Define it, claim it, share it.

Don’t over-do it here. One skill or skill set suffices for now for you to define.

Use the bottom half of your My Project Brief Sheet to help you define a habit skill set, one field-related skill, or one craft-related skill you want to claim and dare to excel in.

~ SAY NO ~

The need for this particular skill isn’t just project-related–it’s systemic to my whole life. I have always had trouble focusing on one thing, being able to figure out what is most important, and saying “no”–or at least, “not now”–to everything else. The proof is in my original project brief. Not because of the desire to hold space for the book to grow as I do other things which is a wonderful, valuable goal, but because that good goal disguises the truth–that I want those unfinished quilts finished and out of my life so badly that I made them more important than the book. And in doing so, I’ve created a situation where the drudgery of the sewing I don’t want to do bleeds over into the work I most want to do. Instead of feeding the book, it has drained my energy. And because two of the quilt projects are for other people, they have the added stress of deadlines and an ever expanding feeling of trying to create within a very small box which has been stifling my creativity across the board. The fact that, although two of my quilting projects are already overdue, I started with a donation quilt that no one is waiting for and has been sitting in a bin for more than three years, only underscores my deep need for increasing my discernment skills ASAP.

So, what does that mean? Starting this moment I need to:

  1. Deal with the two overdue sewing projects this weekend before I do anything else–that means spending Sunday at the computer creating the design comps to send to the clients, because it is too late to hand them off to someone else. Ideally at the office so I won’t be distracted by everything that needs doing here at home.
  2. Adjust my perception of the remaining quilts from chores I need to plow through, to mindfulness practice.
  3. Get back to relaxed nightly book research, letting the stories absorb slowly into my psyche.
  4. Remember what’s most important, which for some reason sounds like the voices of Haymitch and Finnick in my head, and say “no” to everything else:Katniss
  5. Revisit my project brief.

And once I’ve done that, I can begin methodically building my discernment skills so I can make better prioritization decisions earlier in the process and not find myself trying to extract myself from a bind as deadlines loom. This great resource from wonder tracker and our intrepid guide in this challenge Jeffrey Davis, is a good place to start.

 

Who Is This For?

It’s one of my favorite fantasies to believe that I can stay safe inside my little bubble, creating only what I want to create, when I want to create it, and that people will love all of it and and pay me great wads of money just to have a part of it in their lives, but that’s not how the world works. No artist can live in a vacuum without devolving into self-referential, repetitive work, running out of ideas, or just plain going mad. And the truth is, the act of creation, for many of us, doesn’t have a lot of meaning if it’s just about self gratification. For me, specifically, I want my creations to make a difference in people’s lives–to inspire them, to give them hope, to help them find what they need to then make a difference in the lives of others.

There is a quote by Rumi, that elegantly sums this up:

Be a lamp… Rumi

But that is only the what, not the who. Which brings us to today’s question.

#DareToExcel Challenge – 4:

Who is this for?

The innovators who thrive advance their big, new ideas in part because they love their ideas to make a difference in other people’s lives. Do some research on the people who might benefit from your challenge. Look at the online conversations, on our private forum, or – better – have real-time conversations with customers or potential audience members.

Make notes on what feels broken or not-quite-right or downright frustrating in their worlds.

How does he feel when he’s not feeling so great? What one irritation keeps tripping her up?

Then make notes on this: What does she want – a different feeling, a problem solved, one step toward a yearning – that your project might surprisingly give her?

Go back to your burning question: How will your question invite them in?

Look back at your project brief. Did you define a problem in a way that speaks to their perceived wants?

Don’t over-think it for now. We’re taking notes and keeping momentum.

I have to admit, I balk at the word audience. It reeks to me of performance, as though I am putting on my beliefs like a costume that I can remove at any time and revert to who I really am. For me, and for probably all of us undertaking this challenge (and many more beyond), the whole point of this exercise, of the work that I do, is to fully embrace and share my true self whether it nets me customers or not. I want to focus not on giving people what I think they want, but on helping them find what they truly  need. But semantics aside, Jeffrey is right. Art for art’s sake is not enough. It needs to be shared, and it’s important to know who will be best served and to share it with them.

While I do think that there are people who could be well served by my first question, and it’s associated project Hands in Motion, Mind at Rest–people who want to find ways to work their way through distractions, to make space for the big important work to flourish–I believe it is the book, 3T, that has the most to give:

  • To women who feel like the heroic stories of our past have stolen our deepest symbols and stripped us of our power and agency, and long to rediscover and reclaim them
  • To students and teachers of Medieval, Celtic, Catholic, and most particularly, their intersection in Arthurian literature, legend, and mythology, especially those with feminist-leanings
  • To anyone looking for ways to create new stories to replace those that don’t fit anymore
  • To survivors of bad relationships or trauma, those dealing with grief and loss, those who may struggle with “invisible” health problems, or others, especially women, who feel powerless and want to take their power back (perhaps even preppers)
  • To people of all genders who believe that climate change is real but that the paths we have half-heartedly travelled in our attempts to solve a problem that threatens us all are just not working

Seeing it written it all feels a bit broad, but I believe there is a great deal of overlap, and that these rough notes will begin to coalesce as I work on the book. As for the small sample set of people I’ve talked to about the book–they all said they were excited about the unique combination of history, symbolism, feminism, climate change, and memoir the work will include. What they want is a new path to healing, re-empowerment, and social/environmental change. And that is exactly what I am hoping to build.

Time to rework my #projectbrief.

 

Young Genius

It always surprises me what comes up when asked these kinds of thought-provoking questions. It would have made more sense to write about making my first quilt, about learning new skills, about wanting to do something compassionate for someone, about seeing imagination and work come together to create something wholly new, but that’s not the memory that wanted to be explored. And the one that did… sometimes I forget I ever was that girl. Clearly I need to remember.

#DareToExcel Challenge – 3:

Take a few minutes to remember a time when you were nine, or around that age, when you felt free to be your best.

Feel an exact moment in time and place. Are you outdoors or indoors? How does the air feel? How do you feel in your body? What are you uniquely doing or making? Who are you with and how are you uniquely relating to others?

Looking back with full compassion toward yourself, what 1-3 adjectives would you use to describe your younger self at her or his best?
 
These are your 3 Young Genius Qualities.
 
How can you bring some of those young genius qualities forward to this project?

The first memory that sprang to mind was from a picnic at the lagoon in the town where I grew up. It was summer and a bunch of my friends from school were there. The weather was sunny, warm, with maybe the slightest breeze off the bay. The water was alive, with the sun glinting off its low, lapping waves. The cries of seagulls mixed with our laughter.

My four closest girlfriends and I were on the lawn doing cartwheels, aerials, and back flips. The five of us were in gymnastics together and we were playing around, egging each other on in a sort of friendly competition, daring each other to new heights and new combinations. When one of us missed or messed up we’d shout pep-talks from the sidelines. If it was a really bad miss, we’d laugh it off and try again.

Little GymnastPlaying like this in the sun was so different than training or regular competitions. Free of the focus on perfecting techniques and form, we could just have fun. And because it was just fun, we dared to experiment, we dared to be fully in our strong and flexible bodies, pushing the limits of what they could do, to see how high we could jump, how fast we could run, how far we could fly. And because it wasn’t about trying to be our best, we were free to actually explore what our best could be. And often, we found it.

Three #YoungGeniusQualities

  • Vibrant
  • Resilient
  • Free

It’s strange to look at this list and consider that these are not words that I would use to describe myself now, at least not in the way I mean them here. The strength and flexibility of resilience has become a way to get through the tough times, to weather emotional, financial, and other storms, instead of an expression of the strength, power, flexibility, and adaptability of a trained athlete or of youth. And the freedom I have now, hard won and held through sacrifice and compromise, is not the freedom of what felt then like an endless summer where everything is possible. And vibrancy? Perhaps I just vibrate on a more subdued frequency these days. They are all still in me, just not expressed in the same way or with the same exuberance and joy as they were then. I want to get some of that back.

But that is my life. What about my project, Make, Don’t Mull?

In its conception my project was more about creating calm and space, about clearing away obstacles, about getting to work, which feels the absolute opposite of the me from memory. How do I infuse Vibrancy, Resilience, and Freedom into a project that essentially consists of slogging through a checklist of incomplete tasks that I just want, finally, off my plate…Why was that, again?  So I have the space and freedom to explore a topic that absolutely lights me up.

And there it is. Because my #onesmallproject has two parts: The chop wood, carry water part, and the freedom to experiment with a story that no longer serves me or the world, to play with new combinations, new manifestations, to push its boundaries, to see how far it can stretch without snapping, to give it more power, more strength. To help remake it into a powerful force for freedom, life, action, and hope. I may not be able to do a backflip again, but I bet I can relive the feeling it gave me.

Read more from fellow dare-takers:

 

One Small Project

Our second #daretoexcel prompt arrived yesterday, but, unsurprisingly, given my first burning question, it took me a bit before I could sort an answer.

#DareToExcel Challenge – 2:

What one small project can you define to start creating into your burning question?

Complete the top half of the My Project Brief Sheet – title, problem, feeling, and/or question as well as the wonder & curiosity that can light you up to excel. Share it with your audiences. You’ll be glad you did later in the challenge.

To help you focus, write or draw or design a simple project brief. Don’t make it overly analytical but don’t undervalue this really important process either.

Set limits and constraints. Maybe you limit how long you are going to take to create this small project. Will you limit how many pages, designs, or features the project will have? If it is for an audience or a customer base, what problem do they have that this small project might respond to?

Unlike our first prompt of the challenge which came to me in a flash (actually two back-to-back flashes), prompt number two required a little more thought–partly because I have two questions, which at first, at least in my mind, aren’t really that connected. The very first thing that popped into my head when I read this was Jeffrey’s rephrase of my first question, which he simplified into a short, catchy phrase: What if I make instead of mull? Which is great, but a) how does that translate into a project, and b) how does that project relate to my second question about the book, when the first question was actually about sewing? Which of course sent my brain into full mull-mode. So instead of continuing to let it spin itself into a tizzy, I decided to sleep on it.

As it turns out, “sleeping on it” is the perfect metaphor for how a Make, Don’t Mull project would work.

IMG_2222

It seems counter-intuitive at first, focusing on quilts in order to make space for a book to grow, but the longer I sit with it, the more right it feels. In some ways it’s just like taking up meditation in order to relax and clear the mind, except with the added bonus, of finishing incomplete projects that have been weighing me down. Their completion will not only free the head-space that they’ve been occupying, it will also free up the physical space in my one small room, and may even bring in a few extra dollars to boot.

So while I am stitching away, at the rate of at least one seam per day, I will also be ramping up my book research. But instead of obsessing over every historical and mythological detail, trying to will just the right way to weave it all together, I plan to make basic notes as I go, but otherwise take a laissez-faire attitude, allowing the pieces to mix and mingle naturally, letting the threads and characters make their own connections, letting the story lead the way.

This is not my usual tack. I have always been a plotter not a pantser when it comes to writing books. It is also not my usual way to finish anything beyond a first muddled draft that I find it difficult to untangle. Perhaps by letting the story steer for a change, together we might actually reach our destination.