Weaving a tale
I know quite a few people who are using this period of enforced isolation to be creative in whatever way they can, writing or sharing poetry, composing music, cooking… In my case I unearthed a miniature weaving frame (my daughter’s as a child) and have begun a colourful piece which will end up as a small mat (hopefully). I’m not as clever as might first appear, since the wool itself is a variegated dye!
The task got me thinking of metaphor and exploring the parallels between weaving and writing novels.
At the simplest level, you’re creating something new and unique, although there will inevitably be similarities with something that’s been done before.
Before I could begin, I had to learn the language of weaving, the frame, the heddle, the shuttle, the warp and the waft and the function of each part. Then I had to set up the warp threads correctly. At last I began to slide the shuttle back and forth, alternately raising and then pressing down the heddle, ensuring I didn’t pull the yarn too tight or leave it too loose, a repetitive task which felt quite boring until the piece began to grow and the patterns emerged.
Not to labour the point, writing a novel has similar creative elements in the terminology and ‘rules’ of writing, in planning plot and characters, the hard grind of keeping on writing, and satisfaction as it takes shape. We also know how important it is to edit, edit and edit again. In the case of weaving that is rather a drastic task as it means undoing the whole thing and starting again, like the Winchester Cathedral Broiderers in Tracy Chevalier’s ‘A Single Thread’, or Penelope as she waited for Odysseus/Ulysses’ return. That legend inspired one of my novels, in which the heroine’s shawl features in various ways, including at one point being unravelled and reworked. It’s called ‘In for a Penny’ (yes, the heroine is of course Penelope), a somewhat racy and down-to-earth Victorian comedy about the development of the flushing toilet (in those early days when you went in for a 1d)!
Keep safe, keep smiling.