“Yarn” has a funny sound to my ears. Say it: “Yarn.” Doesn’t it sound funny? There’s a twang, a drawl, a kind of “hillbilly” sound to it.
So when I use “yarn” to crochet my hats, or tell “yarns,” as some people refer to them, when I write my books, I find myself chuckling at this word with its two meanings. How odd, that both of my daily pastimes, crocheting and writing, are both connected with this odd-sounding word, “yarn.”
Another odd coincidence is that two of my Mayne Island friends, Leanne Dyck and Celia Leaman, have the same combination of interests. Both these women knit and write. Like me, they spend a good part of their lives involved in using yarn and telling yarns.
I wonder if there are a lot of people who write and use yarn in their daily lives. Perhaps this is a combination unique to Mayne Island.
If you use yarn and tell yarns, I’d love to hear from you. Or if you know others with these two passions, please let me know.
Okay. Back to my novel. I’ll take a break from it later and continue working on the beret I’m designing. I have some beautiful yarn I want to work into it.
Every day a big chunk of my writing time is taken up with research. I knew I was going to be writing about life in 1967, so I could have done some of this before hand, but I didn’t. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the research . It’s really a lot of fun, but it does mean I’m spending more time at my computer than it takes to write 1600 or 1700 words .
Today I looked up the 1967 calendar and cigarettes. Yesterday I researched guns and cars. (Can you tell it’s going to be a murder mystery?) The day before it was mostly maps, names and fashions.
I would recommend NaNoWriMo to anyone who loves writing and wants to give novel-writing a whirl. It’s only one month. And it’s only a couple or three hours a day. It isn’t really a huge commitment. (But then, this IS only Day 4.)
I love this. It’s so freeing! I just let my imagination and research take me where they will. I’ve got my heroine in a shooting range in Greenfield Park near Montreal.
Here’s a short excerpt from today’s writing.
“I guess so, Mr. McTavish. But I wish you’d empty the ashtrays once in while. The smell is overpowering.”
Again he laughed his loud belly laugh. “I’ll do it for you,” he said, after coughing. “And please call me Mac. All my friends do, and since you’ve told me off, I consider you to be a friend.”
“Okay, Mac,” she said, smiling. The man certainly had a disarming way about him.
They took the Jacques Cartier Bridge, crossing the St. Lawrence River to the South Shore. Expo 67, with the huge dome of the US Pavilion shining in the sun, reminded * of the happy times she’d had there this past summer. I’ll go back before it closes, she promised herself. They were headed for Greenfield Park, where the gun club and shooting range Mac belonged to was located.
I started it. It’s taking off in an unknown direction already. Will she go to Europe with her friend? What will she do? And hey, I even worked an owl into the first Page!
So, here’s a excerpt from the first chapter.
All that decided, I felt free. A squirrel danced at the end of an oak tree branch. I looked at it and grinned. I’m just as free as you are, I told it, and turned a cartwheel on the freshly-mown grass.
An elderly couple riding in a caleche passed me and I could see that they were discussing my behaviour. They probably thought I was high. Well, I was, but it was a natural high. I didn’t need drugs. I was free. I was twenty-two. I had a passport, a bank account and birth control pills. I could go where I wanted, do what I wanted, with whoever I wanted.
Now I wanted to follow my decisions with actions, so I headed down the way I had come, along the tree-lined path, past the big houses on Mount Royal Avenue, along McGregor to the lower campus of McGill, to the Administration Office. After filling out a form and talking with the registrar’s secretary, I wandered over to The Main and had a salad and a glass of beer, not my usual lunch. Then with a determined step I returned to Place Ville Marie and rode the elevator up to the fiftieth floor, where I confronted my legal colleagues.
I was asked this question today. I always find it hard to answer. I can imagine that if you asked a baseball player why he play baseball he’s say it was because he enjoyed it. I can predict that if you asked a doctor why she practices medicine, she might say it was because she wants to help people. These are just conjectures. But while I can speculate about others, I don’t find it simple to imagine what answer people expect from me.
I suppose I write because I have to. Just like a runner needs to run, I feel a strong need to create entire realities that express my values and my imagination.
I also write for other people. I love to hear from my readers who tell me they enjoyed my books, saw themselves in them, recognized feelings they have had, enjoyed the little world I created. I like reading to school classes and listening to their ideas and responses afterwards.
I also hope that someday my descendants will know a little more about the real me. My grandchildren are too young to read my books now, but someday they’ll e able to. Maybe my son and daughter will be able to see into their mother’s imagination and get to know me a little better, too.
I need to tell my stories. I guess it’s as simple as that.
A fellow writer, Robin Spano, posted this on Facebook this morning, “Loving the luxury of my first morning in a week with coffee and my manuscript. You know things are good when your day job is what you love more than anything.”
Can you relate? I recently had to go a week without writing because of commitments I’d made, and I began to feel physically sick. I got back to my manuscript and wrote all day, then the next. I felt so much better, and I also finished writing half the first draft pf my fourth Magda of Mayne Island novel. This is not a writing rhythm I’d recommend.
What works best for me is a day that begins with rewriting the previous day’s work, then writing today’s chapter or two with a cup of coffee. It proceeds with more writing, with a short break for lunch, if I remember, then reading and writing blogs or letters, then writing some more and ends with my printing up and reading that day’s work and making changes in pencil. Every day is different, but that’s what I call a good day. I can’t complain. It’s a good life.
Back to work now.
My tams and other crocheted hats are always a lot of fun to design and sell. My brand name is “Tam-a-Lot”, a name my husband came up with. I was making a lot of tams to sell at the Christmas Craft Market on Mayne Island four years ago, when I began this work, so he named the line for its abundance.
Naming things can be almost as much fun as designing and creating things.
What would you name your clothing line?