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A library without a librarian is a reading room.
Jenny Garcia (University of Wyoming)

Writing is quilt-making.

April 14, 2008

Yesterday Mary, Theresa, Nan, and I presented at the Terrace Public Library, in a gorgeous art-gallery.  On the walls were some incredible quilts, created by Betty Doering, Jan Goodwill, and others. Theresa Kishkan’s presentation included a reading from her book, Phatom Limb.  This essay was about quilt-making.  I couldn’t help but feel completely engaged.  As she read, I studied the quilts around me and I came to the conclusion that writing is quiltmaking.Here are some similarities between quiltmaking and writing (for reference—anything in quotes is Theresa’s writing, pp. 18-21)

– “A quilt takes months.“
– A story takes months.

– “You choose a pattern, something formal or an idea to cobble together.
– You choose a theme, ideas that you will piece together.

– “You try to think how much fabric you will need…“
– You try to think how much material you will need and how long your story will be.

– “Cut out fabric into required pieces…“
– Write out the material into required blocks of text.  You can fill in the gaps later.

– “Fit these [blocks of fabric] together in an agreeable way…“
– Fit these blocks of text together in an agreeable way.

– “Baste together with big stitches…“
– Baste your writing together with rough transitions.

– “Then you can quilt.“
– Then you can draft and re-draft.

– “Make the tiny stitches which draw the layers together and create texture.“
– Make tiny edits which draw the layers together and create texture.
Then be sure to share your creation with others.  Hang up your writing, share it with everyone who will listen.

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