The pressure to focus.

by Amy

The pressure is on, and I don’t’ know if it’s in a good way or a bad way. I am writing this month, and writing a lot. My goal is to write 50,000 words of something before December 1 rolls around. And I find myself now, more than ever, pulled toward other pursuits. Wouldn’t this be a great time to cut out some fabric for that sewing project I have been meaning to do? Or maybe I should clean my studio, alphabetize my patterns, re-start my crochet hobby, maybe try knitting too, then learn how to make some fingerless gloves because every time I sit down to write my hands are icy cold. Let’s not forget about my guitar that is languishing downstairs behind the couch, the deep spring cleaning that never happened, the website redesign, the two other web domains I bought and have left to languish.

These thoughts have been racing through my mind for the past few days, and every time, like playing whack-a-mole, I beat them down. No. No. No. You are WRITING this month. Nothing else, or you will never, ever make it to 50, 000 words.

Today I read something on Facebook about a friend who could teach me to stencil on some off-white carpet remnant and my heart skipped several beats. “Just what I have always wanted!” I thought.

But no, that’s not what I have always wanted. I have always wanted time and energy to be crafty and express my creativity in a physical way (not just with words).

Crochet is not a great way for me to do that, because I have exactly enough patience to make one scarf, and if I get interrupted? Forget it. I forget how to read patterns, and then I forget what kind of yarn I was using, I can’t find that hook I need, which is exactly why I own about 17 G hooks.

Knitting is a terrible way for me to express myself creatively. First of all, I have tried to learn how to knit approximately 7 times in the past 5 years. It usually involves tears, swearing, watching and re-watching the same “how-to” video until I have everything memorized, even when the narrator takes a breath.

Random other crafts such as carpet-stenciling, wreath-making, upcyclng peanut butter jars into lanterns (I just made that one up but I bet you 7 million dollars that it is on the internet somewhere), or basically anything that involves a hot glue gun are fun, yes. But they are not what I need right now.

Right now I need two things: Writing and sewing.

Both of them require almost all of my attention when I am working on something.

Although I would never call myself an expert at writing, I can do a great volume in a fairly short time and feel pretty good about it. I can whip off blog posts without too much thought about the technical aspects of formulating my thoughts. As long as I can keep my thoughts moving slowly enough I just have to telegraph them from my brain to my fingers and the rest takes care of itself.

I am far from an expert at sewing – more of an extreme beginner – but I love it. I love the precision required, I love the occasional troubleshooting, I love knowing where every single one of my mistakes are even when an average non-sewer can stare at it, seam by seam, and never know it’s not right. I love putting colors and patterns together, I love standing with bolts of fabric, stacking and re-stacking them until I figure out just the mix I want. I love daydreaming about someday having mastery, about someday making a skirt that I would wear in public. I love my sewing machine, the fluid way that it churns my fabric under the foot and then out the back. I love that if I demand something looks perfect, I can usually get it there.

I have an entire room in my house that is dedicated to writing and sewing (OK, and it is also my closet and my exercise room, but that doesn’t matter when I am sitting in front of the computer or the sewing machine). I have a special space set aside for these endeavors. I have a clean desk with a computer on it, I have an owl painting hanging on the wall and a collage on the door that says “Hope blooms here.” I have a sewing table, and a cabinet filled with notions and supplies, and a toolbox for the things I use most, and a basket for my rulers and patterns and funny bits of materials that I don’t want to lose. I have hoops on the walls with some of my favorite fabrics stretched tight over them, above my sewing machine.

Just writing this has made me so much calmer. I was absolutely frenzied when I came up to sit and write this morning. I knew that I had too many other things to think about, a job that is ending in just 11 days, a Sudoku game that is unresolved, a pile of dirty laundry downstairs, a workout to do, mail to be sorted, and if I’m completely honest, about half of my house could probably stand to be hit with a magic eraser today. But believe it or not, those things will work themselves out.

My priorities right now are writing and sewing. Even though I am not sewing, I plan on it. I haven’t sewn since June, but I miss it.  I am trying to make writing part of my regular scheduled programming, even if right now I seem to only sit down and puke something out when I am too stressed to do anything else.

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