As those who know me know, I spent a decades-long career in the world of the American quilt—designing, writing, teaching, publishing, traveling the U.S. (and beyond) to connect with quilters everywhere and help them hone their skills.
Writing—in the quilting industry—meant writing instructions, mostly: “Sew Piece A to Piece B to form Unit C,” for example. Occasionally, I got the chance to write something a bit more exciting, like a feature article or humor piece, but not often. Writing and publishing non-fiction copy, however, helped me build solid syntactical and editing chops, not bad skills to have under my belt when I undertook fiction a few years ago.
That said, I had loads more to learn. Creating my novel My Life with Shelley took five years of concentrated, daily effort—months of reading book after book on the craft of fiction, researching the life of Frankenstein author Mary Shelley (her letters, journals, and other novels), actual writing, and of course revising, revising, revising, and revising again. I joined and formed writing groups, found writer friends, took writing classes in Iowa City and elsewhere, plus consumed volumes of quality published fiction.
Now, with My Life with Shelley agented, and encouraged by my agent, I’m at it again in the early hours of the morning, writing, revising, researching, working on a story, this one set in Winterset and with a darker theme, scribbling, scribbling, every day—6,453 words down so far, 85,000 (approximately) to go.
Mary Ann Scanlon
Few things other than continuous learning bring as much joy.
I can close my eyes and be in that room with you and Scrabble. Thanks for your great posts!
Learning and enjoying what you do is so great and rewarding.
Joseph D. Brisben
A violinist once told me, if I skip a day of practice, I notice it; if I skip two days of practice, the critics notice it; if I skip three days of practice, the audience notices it.
That quote has made the rounds. It’s often attributed to Jascha Heifetz, but also to Andre Previn (slightly altered) and to Ignacy Jan Paderewski. A violinist, a composer/conductor and a pianist, each world renowned. The violinist who told you put him-/herself in awfully good company!
You are a very good writer already, Marianne, but I respect your tenacity and your hunger for learning more!
My teenage daughter was assigned to read “Frankenstein” a few years ago and we read it aloud together. I was astonished. It was absolutely one of the deepest, most philosophical/theological/theoretical novels I’d ever read. I would not have appreciated it in high school. But after doing graduate work in political science (Indiana U) with a lot of political theory and studying the Enlightenment thinkers, not to mention women’s studies, I now COULD appreciate the colossal accomplishment of Shelley. Aside from all that’s going on in it, “Frankenstein” is just a flat-out page-turner of a story. As a reader, a thinker, a student of political theory, and yes, a QUILTER(!), I salute you and look forward to your book. (BTW, we lived in Iowa for six years (three in Iowa City) while my husband taught at Grinnell College and I went to U.I. law school and have other acquaintances who passed through the Iowa City writing workshop.) .
You go, girl and stay the course. I admire your tenacity. But if we didn’t keep at it, where is the hope? Looking forward to your book being published—my bet is on you!
You are a constant inspiration: as a quilter; as a QOV maker, mentor and speaker; and now as a writer. You are my hero! Isn’t it funny how we consider ourselves doing what we think of as ordinary, and yet to someone else, it is the extraordinary. I love the saying: To the world you are one person, but to one person, you are the world. Thank you for being my world.
You keep doing what makes you happy, we all have our stories to tell. Most of us don’t take the time to tell them. So happy for you.