Monday, 21 September 2009

Do not read this

unless you want to be seriously - irritated. I read Nicola Morgan ranting on about why she writes. It was timely. Someone, a good friend, asked me the other day what I would choose if I had to choose between writing and knitting. I said writing. I did not hesitate.
Now, do not get the wrong idea please. I find both things a huge challenge. Knitting is difficult for me. I am not a coordinated individual. It took my patient paternal grandmother years before I could knit to her satisfaction and mine. If I had been given a penny for every stitch I dropped (yes it was way pre-decimal currency in Australia) I would have been so wealthy I would never have needed to contemplate the possibility of anything but a life of luxury. Knitting creates things. It clothes people. It is useful and it can, in the right hands, be beautiful. People get addicted to knitting, seriously addicted. They have a problem called SABLE - 'stash advancement beyond life expectancy' or more yarn than they can hope to use in their lifetime and the lifetime of the other knitters they know.
But, knitting is not writing. Many knitters never actually create anything. They follow patterns. They re-create other people's work. I do create my own but there is always the feeling that there is an element of plagiarism there. Knitting has to have features that are features in the work of other knitters too. Knitting is thousands upon thousands of stitches all connected with one another in ways that have been connected before and will be connected again. In between there will be only tiny detours.
Writing is different. It is mine. I can start from the very beginning. I can create an entire world. I can have as many characters or as few as I like. They can do whatever I want them to do. It is only if I want to communicate them to other people that I have to acknowledge restraints of any sort. It is no good writing something unbelievable. There have to be points of contact. I might make you see something upside down, back to front, or inside out, or as an extension but it has still to be something you can recognise from your experience and your point of view or I have failed to communicate. Writing is about making connections, not just one connection but thousands upon thousands of connections. Writing is about major detours and new journeys. It is exploration. I have to make my own map. I have to knit words in new ways.


Donna Hosie said...

I read it and was not irritated at all; I agree with every word.

(I used to knit as a child but I have the coordination of a fish out of water. The results were not pretty.)

catdownunder said...

That's a relief Donna! My cat hair was feeling rather ruffled this morning.

Rachel Fenton said...

Hahahaha! I knew it! I just knew it! You simply cannot stay away! Hahahahahahahaha! I couldn't find what ruffled your cat hair because I only managed a couple of paragraphs before I had to leave and come back here to say 'ha'! If you want to scratch you can - you don't have to make an itch first :)

People get very strange about being an 'author'...personally, I prefer the term 'writer', because it suggests something of the actual physical act of writing...I like painting too, I am a writer who paints. Beyond that it gets a bit daft. I knit, too - extremely badly: I cannot follow patterns, I make it up within the confines of what it allows. I knit pieces of wooly fabric and make them into bags! I used to have way more yarn than I could ever use but I gave it away when I moved to NZ. I am beginning to build new stock! I like wool for itself. I like words more. I like your words.

Rachel Fenton said...

Note - I have to read Nicola via your blog because to link to her blog via mine would spoil my blog karma ;)