knitting a novel

I learned to knit when I was six. My grandmother taught me. This was back in the days before video games, before cable television, before computers (yes, I’m old). We had three channels on television, and there was limited programming for kids. So we played outside, we read, and we did stuff like knitting. I used my knitting skills to make blankets for my dolls, and camouflage “nets” for the Star Wars and GI Joe action figures my brother and I played with.

The next thing I remember knitting was a scarf for my husband, way before he was my husband. We were broke college students and I made him the scarf for Christmas because I couldn’t afford to buy him anything. That was more than fifteen years ago, but he still wears that old brown scarf.

Then, for years I did not knit. I sewed, I painted, I wrote… I did many creative things- but not knitting. And then (a knitter will understand this) I fell in love with a ball of yarn. Like head-over-heels in love, and I had to have it. I had to have as much of it as I could possibly afford! Oh, it was glorious. And conveniently, a friend had asked me to try a crochet class with her, so I had the perfect excuse to buy it.

The crochet class went well, once I got the hang of it. Even my very demanding elderly Japanese crochet instructor was impressed! I started to really love crochet. I used my glorious yarn to make myself a scarf, and I was happy.

I found, though, that I no longer really enjoyed knitting. See, crochet is sooo much faster than knitting. The fabric is not as tight, not as smooth as knitted fabric, but still very pretty and satisfying. It’s (almost) instant gratification. I whipped out project after project, loving my new hobby (everyone got crocheted gifts from me for Christmas last year).

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Granny Square blanket made with Noro Kureyon yarn (in my son’s bedroom)

 I have had a similar relationship with writing. I love to write, but I find it difficult (impossible) to write anything of substantial length. All my work, no matter how I try to embellish it, ends up as “novella” length. It just always seems to me that the story is told, and I don’t want to add meaningless fluff just to pad the word count.

But I know my work could be longer. I could make the characters deeper, add scenes that are purely for character development, add detail to the secondary characters and to the settings. Many reviewers have stated that they enjoyed my stories, but would have liked them to be longer.

So, as part of my quest to become a better writer, I am writing a novel. To help myself along, I signed up for camp NaNoWriMo, hoping that the word count goal and tracking will be a motivation for me. (I did this camp once before, but only committed to a novella that time)

To further help myself achieve my goal, I have actually come up with an outline of my plot in advance! Crazy!! Next thing you know, I’ll be knitting socks.

p.s.: If anyone wants to join me in “camp”, my camper name is eroticamelia (classy, right?). Come on, share a cabin with me!

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