Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Collars and Commas

Thursday is my favorite day of the week. After the kids are tucked in their beds I have the house to myself. It’s Project Runway night and I’m at peace, armed with my computer, a bowl of pita chips and some orange juice on the side. I always tell myself I’m going to write while I watch it, but I never do. I feel guilty only for a moment for wasting such precious minutes, but brushing it off and savoring the time with Tim Gunn and Nina Garcia is part of this weekly ritual.

Well, this season just started and there is one designer in particular who has grabbed my attention. Just by looking at her you can tell she is super creative, but what makes her truly special is she just learned to sew four months ago. Now, let point out, I am self-taught in the art of sewing and I can say from experience, it’s not easy! Heck, I have pillows on my couch right now that are unfinished and bursting at the seams. The amazing thing about this girl is not only are her designs outstanding, but her sewing is impeccable… I think she will be in the top three.

So, you wonder, how does this relate to writing? Well, last week she was stuck in a technical part of her design, attaching a collar. Fortunately for her, one of the other designers who had already finished their garment offered to attach it for her… so kind, right? I thought so, too. Then, one of the not-so-kind designers made a comment about “that being the difference between self-taught and going to design school.”


That’s it! That is the difference between going to design school and being self-taught. He’s absolutely right. He knows how to sew a collar because he had the money to go to school and learn the proper way of doing his craft, but she was not so lucky and I am astounded by her natural talent. I think it would be amazing to see what she could do if she did have the proper technical instruction, which should not be confused with talent. You can have all the education in the world and still not possess an ounce of talent. Case in point, the designer who was eliminated that week was a design school graduate who sadly, possessed little of the gift.  

Isn’t that what writing is all about?  Writing anything, whether it’s a blog post, short story, poem, or novel is, at the very basic level, design.  Some of the most amazing stories have been brought to life by writers without college degrees… Ray Bradbury and Ernest Hemingway are good examples.  Instead of using textiles, writers use words and commas to sew together plots instead of pieces of muslin and silk.

Like this girl, I have no piece of paper in my possession proving my abilities. I believe I am fortunate enough to have claimed a fair bit of wit from my family’s gene pool, but my comma usage would put my high-school English teacher to shame. As time goes by, I hope this will remedy itself and I will someday look back on my early works and laugh at my rudimentary attempts to entertain those who take the valuable time to read my ramblings.

In the meantime, forgive my comma conundrum and laugh with me when I publish my first book.