Knit It

So; given I excused my non-blogging period by saying I was busy, busy, busy writing my book might lead you to ask if, now that I’m blogging again, whether the writing has taken a back seat. Short answer: no.

Long answer: What I’m doing now isn’t so much writing as editing, and it feels like I’m tearing my manuscript into tiny shreds, then trying to stick them back together again. This sounds drastic – it feels awful – but it is absolutely necessary. As Dr Kim told us during Year of the Edit, editing needs a detached and methodical eye*. When I am Editor, rather than Writer, the process feels destructive rather than constructive, at least at first. You have a scene, a paragraph, a sentence, and after considering it awhile, you know there are changes you must make. A paragraph needs to be moved, rearranged. A sentence needs to be re-written or cut, burned and never spoken of again.

Eventually, the little pieces come together again. Like the scattered pieces of the T-1000, they melt, migrate and fuse back into one murderous – no, bad simile. Think of it this way; if you’ve ever tried your hand at knitting, you know what it’s like to spend an hour knitting and purling and cabling only to find, fifty rows back, you dropped a stitch. You spend a little while poking at the hole, wondering if you can fix it in some quick, painless way – embroider over it, or make a knot that will conceal the error – then realise that won’t work. You try to convince yourself you can live with the hole; it’s not so big. But it is. It’s huge and horrible and the whole work is ruined while that one stitch remains unmended. So, with a sigh, you pull the needles out and strip back the yarn, watching your fifty rows of fabric transform back into an untidy pile of string your cat now wants to play with. You curse and swear as you pick up all the stitches on one needle and wish you’d never thought how wonderful it would be to make a piece out of angora or feathered-yarn or some other impossibly stupid wool. You get it all back on the needle and you start again. You finish it and you love it and you wish winter came twice a year just so you could wear it.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah – when knitting a book, avoid fluffy or feathery yarns as it’s easy to drop stitches and end up with a woolly plot full of holes.

*If you don’t know Dr Kim’s ‘puppy autopsy’ analogy, read this post.

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