Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Gift from Pennsylvania

When you write books, you work, work, work, work on them. Your friends ask you what’s going on and you say “I’m working on my new book.” Pretty soon, they stop asking you. They know your answer. At first, it seems intriguing to them – someone working on a book. But it gets boring pretty quick. “How could it take someone so long to do something” they wonder silently to themselves. It is all so personal – the research, the planning, the futzing around with ideas. If it’s a how-to book, there are lots of projects to buy supplies for, plan, make, and then make again. Then there are the instructions to write hoping someone understands what you mean. It’s difficult to understand that it could take someone so long to produce a book. But trust me, it does.

After I turn the stuff in, then I wait for the editorial process to happen. That could take months (it usually does). I talk with the editor, proof it as they ask me to, look at bluelines. I hope the pictures turn out as I envisioned them in my head so long ago. It is a tedious, long process. Then it gets sent to the printer and I wait again – usually about three months. By the time the book comes out, I’m usually into the next project. Sometimes I barely look at it. I hope I don’t find a mistake. I cringe at things I don’t like – photos, cropping, mis-placed type, bad color. I know how good it could have been. Then I move on. These are just the honest facts of writing a book. It’s a process.

Sometimes, good things happen -- like the other day when the Fedex guy came to deliver a package from Pennsylvania. I opened the envelope after a long day of Julia being sick and inside was a CD. We plunged it into my computer and up popped seventy pictures of school kids from Pennsylvania. Back in January, Patricia Orner, an elementary school art teacher asked me if she could use my website and my book Kids Embroidery as inspiration for some of the art projects she was doing with her students. “Sure,” I answered. And promptly forgot about it.

On the ribbon wrapped CD were oodles of photos of third and fourth graders from the Cornwells Elementary School with embroidery projects. Patricia had shown them lots of my art – my paintings, my stitchery, photos from the different home magazines featuring my painted walls and still life in my home. The CD was full of images of kids with giant smiles on their faces (the principal, for privacy purposes, wouldn’t let me show the kids' faces on my blog – I don’t blame him). There were photos of kids stitching and of the display they had at their art fair. These are just a few of them.

It made me cry. Julia was impressed. Those kids I didn’t know from far away took my ideas and ran with them. They had fun. They stitched. They designed. They are marvelous!

Thanks so much to Patricia for making “my job” worthwhile. I like when I “get to” someone – when what I do resonates with them. I hope her school and the parents and kids appreciate her talent. It’s rare.

There’s still time left in the summer to teach your kids or friends to stitch! Try it – you may surprise yourself!


Alice said...

There is no nobler way to share an art than through our children. Thank you for sharing with us children inspired by your work to stitch!

kat coyle said...

What a beautiful story, how nice that the teacher wanted to show you how much your hard work affected the lives of her students.

Sonja Poor said...

Terrific, terrific story. I love your blog and immediately moved it into my "A blogs" folder so I don't have to hunt for it in the list. Julia's birthday picture was so sweet, with the bracelets and all. I called my husband in to see. Then looking through the Vogue Knitting issue I showed him them Meg Swansen socks. He pointed to yours on the facing page and said "I like those better. I like the colors." So I said, "Well, you know who designed those? That little birthday girl's mother."

Kristin said...

I ran into the girl I taught to stitch at the Cushman Library today for the summer reading program. She is evidently doing a lot of it and enjoying it. So nice to hear another success story.