Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Writer as Crafter

I’ve been crafting like mad for the holidays this year, crocheting and sewing and gluing and embroidering. It’s not particularly a money-saving venture, since the supplies to craft the desired items cost as much as, if not more, than purchasing the item in question ready-made. Most of my projects this season are not as easy as crocheting gnomes, and every time I finish one project, another one springs to mind.

Why do I do it? Yes, the recipient gets the gift of my (hygienic) blood, sweat and tears, which is special, but my time is limited. Every moment I put hook to yarn is another moment I’m neither writing nor reading nor conversing with the family. I can’t really talk when I’m crafting, and I certainly can’t catch up on our backlog of Heroes episodes. The children bug me incessantly (captive audience), which makes me lose count of my stitches. My husband is feeling ignored in general. Like being the husband of a writer wasn’t bad enough; now he’s the husband of an obsessive seasonal crafter.

However, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if crafting is a natural outgrowth of the writer personality. The fact is, crafting and writing are related. An individual conceives of an item that doesn’t exist -- a pink and orange princess gown with yellow spots, a novel about evil gnomes -- and realizes there is a demand for that item. Sure, you can get a princess gown or a fantasy novel at the store, but it’s not the exact one the artist has dreamed up. So he or she decides the demand is great enough that it’s worth it to commit the time, energy and even money to make this dream a reality.

It might be that the desired item is beyond the artist’s current capability and research must be done, classes must be taken, books must be purchased. The artist might find herself wandering around the craft store...or the Barnes & Noble...fondling similar items to the one she’s in the process of creating or items she can use in its creation. The artist mind find herself cranky when the creation process is interrupted, skipping meals or family time in order to vanquish the next phase. There may be snags en route to completion, where rows of crocheting have to be taken out and redone or chapters have to be cut and rewritten. A pattern or outline for the project is invaluable at many points, but at others, the artist may find herself forging a new path and veering from what has gone before.

And once the project is complete, once the finishing touches have been added, the artist may find that the end result is...simply unsalvageable!

But the knowledge gained is invaluable, because the artist will know to never, ever work with certain ravel-happy fabrics or subgenres again, for that way lies madness. And the next project she picks up will be completed in half the time with twice the skill.
Or so I'm hoping!

Jody W.
A SPELL FOR SUSANNAH--In Paper, Samhain Publishing
LIAM'S GOLD--In Electrons, Samhain Publishing

PS: One of the things I have learned to craft are handmade, reusable gifts bags, and you can win one of these for your very own over at the Samhain Paranormal Authors blog during our Cool Yule Giveaway...


  1. Yep, I'm busy with those holiday handmade items too.

  2. holiday handmade gifts are, in my opinion, some of the best gifts. They come from the heart and they're not something you can find in any store.

    I say, enjoy your gift!

  3. I'm a crafter, too. But with my time constraints now it's simply impossible to do some of the things I've wanted to do. Even when I am in front of the TV chances are that I am jotting down a to do list for the next day. I miss cross stitch and needlepoint and now my eyes are going so I'm thinking all those tiny stitches may not be such a good idea now.

    I have a wreath to put together for a Christmas pressie and then, I am starting a scrapbook photo book for my soon to be at college child.

    FWIW, the ornaments I love the most at the homemade ones. Always.


  4. Talia, I have to take my glasses off (or look over them) to perform certain crafting tasks. UGH!

    Brenda, what are you making? I'm doing bookmarks, hats, sweatshirts.

    Maggie, what are some of your favorite handmade gifts?

  5. I can so identify with your post. I'm not crafty but I am an artist. I worked for 14 years as a graphic designer before the writing bug bit me. I still do colored pencil portraits and web site design (and if you've seen some bad ones, you know you need more than basic HTML knowledge to put a good one together).