When I was taking jewelry classes while living in Palo Alto, California, my teacher, seeing a tasseled earring I was adding tiny beads to, commented that I liked to work “fine.” In thinking about this years later, she is correct. I like small heroes and am writing a book about a small set of pigeon-like aliens who invade Earth with the help of an almost-12-year-old boy named Cort Evans. One of Cort’s passions, graphic novels about Nick Nano, a small, small hero, is inspired by my Uncle Bert’s copy of Tiny Tim and the Mechanical Men. I loved reading about Tim’s climbing into the head of the mechanical man and controlling it while looking out through its eyes.
Another example of my “fine” work is the quilt in the image accompanying this post. First I cut out little hexagons of the subscription cards from magazines (finally a good use for them!), wrapped fabric around them, basted them, then whipped stitched them together–and together–and together. The finished blocks are 1.5 inches. Don’t ask me how many stitches are in the quilt. Am I finished? Once I decide on the edge design and the batting so that it won’t look like a misbegotten big quilt that shrank in the dryer and take up my needle again, it will be. Why did I start this? I was teaching at the time, and this quilt was a project that was manageable and could be carried with me.
And what does this obsession with detail have to do with writing? In my reading and in my writing, I tend to jump from one thing to another, to put too much detail in some places and not enough in others. This blog is an effort to see detail and what it can lead to, to know when and when not to spiral into it, to see life steadily and whole, but also to see the whole from the single detail.
Using the more familiar meaning of this phrase, I want to see what works for me in writing and in making a living creatively.