I own a very fancy-shmancy, top-of-line embroidery sewing machine.
My husband bought it for me when our kids were babies and I was determined to be the Best. Mom. Ever. I wanted to make them all sorts of adorable, monogrammed outfits, and decorate their rooms with fabulous homemade quilts. It was going to be awesome and fun and domestic. I bought thread, and fabric, and ribbons. I was on a mission.
In those first few months with my shiny new machine I did manage to make a few sets of curtains, some misshapen pillows, and even a couple pairs of drawstring pajama pants. I monogrammed about fifty tee shirts and forced my offspring to wear them. Fortunately the little kids in neighborhood were either too polite, or too unobservant, to ask, “Why are the letters on your shirt all crooked?”
Fast forward to today. That fabulous machine has been sitting in my writing office for about eight years. Every day I look at that cabinet, which is stacked high with books, piles of Writer’s Digest magazines, and other tools of my actual trade, and I feel guilty. That wonderful machine is sitting there, taunting me. It whispers, “Psssst! Remember me? You were going to learn how to sew. What the heck happened?”
Well, I’ll tell you what happened. I started writing a few years ago, and since then every hobby, interest, pastime, and obligation has fallen prey to the dragon of drafting, the rigors of revisions, and the pleasure of publication. The truth is, I would rather write than sew. Quite frankly, I would rather write than do just about anything.
So, last night, I sold that sewing cabinet. I moved it out of my office, stuck the machine on a shelf in the basement, and admitted to myself that, although I may venture forth one day to make another pair of curtains, I will never, ever make the time or have the discipline to actually sew. I don’t have the patience, or enough interest. And I have a philosophical aversion to measuring. I mean, really, where’s the creativity if you actually measure?
You might think this was a failure, the abandonment of a dream – because at one point, I really did want to know how to sew. But that’s what I’ve finally figured out about myself. There are tons of things I want to know how to do – sew, knit, ski, play the piano – but very few things I’m interested in learning how to do. Learning takes commitment, and time, and repetition. So I can humor myself and say I’ll learn those things after I’m done writing, but the truth is, I’ll never be done writing. It’s the one thing I am certain of. It’s the one thing I am willing to work at every day. The skill I most want to improve.
It was a relief getting that bulky cabinet out of my space, getting the guilt out of my head, and deciding to spend my time focused on what I love the most. Writing.
Maybe tomorrow I will unload all of my knitting supplies….