Yup, that’s me. Sounds silly but bear with me. We all have them. Those smacked-in-the-head moments when reality shifts. Or, more correctly, we catch up with reality. It’s especially surprising when it’s something about yourself, something staring you right in the face, but didn’t acknowledge. An instantaneous change in how you perceive yourself. That’s what just happened to me.
A little background in the form of some resume-ish lines:
By any measure I suppose you’d count me a success. The internet TV station I championed has found a happy home and is thriving. I host two monthly how-to series in my area of expertise. I co-hosted a monthly off-the-wall lifestyle series for four seasons with the amazing Mark Lipinski. (Look him up and you will love him too.) I produced and produce these shows start to finish. I present product on HSN. I am about to start co-hosting a PBS show. I realized my dream of becoming a cuckoo clock designer via a filming trip to the Black Forest and sold over 150 of my Quilt Shop Cuckoo Clocks. Then I followed suit with my Quilting Rubber Duckie, making my hugest dream a reality: I am a Rubber Duckie Designer. In the meantime, I have authored 35 books.
“What? Thirty-five books?”
Yes, it does sound impressive. Not so fast. Read on for the slap in the head.
I’ve spent most of my adult lifetime writing how-to books for quilters and crafters. Two a year at least; a hearty pace. My particular niche, the quilting industry, has been especially kind to me. I love what I do and it seems to love me.
It’s Rubber Duckie Time!
Of course, there’s no straight, simple line in life for a multidimensional soul. All along there’s been something else, waiting. Patiently. And when I’d take a moment to look that way, a shy little half circle of a winged wave would greet back. “I’m here.” Waiting. Patiently.
Who? What? It’s the “who” who when I was twenty-five told me, “Of course you can write a book. Don’t listen to all that nonsense about rejection slips.” The first publisher queried snatched it. It’s also the “Who” who got me on the road to my on-camera career.
You see, it’s all about the rubber duckie. More correctly, Rubber Duckie. There are rubber duckies and then there is Rubber Duckie. She is my muse. I think she may be the adult incarnation of my imaginary childhood friend Mr. Gillins. No matter. She is and seems to have always been there. It is she who got me doing TV a dozen years ago.
I had become known as a rubber duckie collector and lover and was asked to be on A&E’s Incurable Collector. At the time I’d been on plenty of sewing shows and was told I did great, but I just wasn’t feeling it. When the producer and the camera and sound guys sandwiched themselves into my bathroom with me and that little red camera light came on I felt what my family and friends had seen. It was obvious that it was the subject, my muse that made me shine. Then and there I knew on-camera was where I was meant to be.
Wouldn’t you know though, that my pursuit of doing a Duckumentary lead me down another route? In my quest to find a way to make that dream a reality, every time I gave my credentials, the response was “Let’s do a quilting show!” So I did, and another, and another, and so on. It’s amazing fun. But there my sunny yellow buddy remains, cheering me on, her stories untold. As she has enabled me to create the world I want to live in, my Rubber Duckie World, she has been the actual creator of it.
It’s time to share that. So that’s what I’m doing the past year. Pushing everything else to the far side of my desk to tell the stories my little muse has been using as instruction enlightenment.
Instead of writing production books for shows, now my fingers are turning what’s in my brain into words, into thoughts, into paragraphs, into pictures.
Rather than designing a quilt and it dictating the words, my words come from seemingly thin air. And there’s the magic. It’s hard, soulful work. Rubber Duckie work.
Now that I am immersed in my own new personal chapter I have found that not only is my subject different, the actual work is as well. I’m writing!
Think about it. With how-to books I would come up with an idea for a project, sketch it out, make the patterns in Corel Draw, print them out, stitch them up, test, and redo the patterns if need be. Only then when I had a finished product would I write up a materials list and the how-to steps. I suppose that writing how-to steps is writing. But there’s writing and then here’s writing. The only creative writing aspect to the writing were the little descriptive intros to the projects. Descriptive being the operative word. So you see… I was designing and sewing. And then doing a tiny tad of descriptive writing.
Which is why I suddenly envisioned this headline: Thirty-Five Time Author Discovers She’s Not a Writer.
Today it’s all about thought, concept, ideas. It’s all about these characters, those dear beings wishing to be known. It’s about sharing the stories of rubber duckie designers. It’s about the story of rubber duckie manufacturing coming back to American shores. It’s the stories my dear friend Lee Warhurst told. (Rubber Duckies come in human form too you know.)
See, it’s stories. I am writing first, writing second, writing last, writing, writing, and writing. Even the bit of designing I’m doing is dictated by the writing. While bringing my characters to life through words I am working through art mediums and methods to illustrate them and their adventures visually. However I end up creating the illustrations, the stories of the characters come first, the illustrations second.
… and Then There’s Writing
I have always been a hard worker, but this new variety of work rather stumped me at first. I had to come up with a new routine. Things, as in designs, don’t dictate projects and shape the day anymore. It’s all words. It’s isn’t twelve projects in a book that decides my progress, its words, words, words all day long.
It never occurred to me not to describe myself as a “writer.” How many times have I filled in that “job description” box with the word “writer”? I’m sure no one would argue that I wasn’t one. But as in all cases there are writers and there are writers! Sure that cake was made at home, the contents dumped out of a box, an egg or milk added (never made a mix have no idea if that’s the case) but then there’s baking a gateau, soaking it in a liqueur syrup, layering it with a buttercream, frosting it all with yet another chocolate ganache… There’s “homemade” and there’s from-scratch homemade. Perhaps that’s a good analogy. From-scratch writing is from thin air. And requires leavening and combinations that complement one another and a game plan to make it all work.
Now that I’m aiming to be a writer for real I’m finding what that truly means. And I like it. It’s soulful. I have to reach deep into myself every time I sit down at my computer. Stre-e-e-tch! The end result of the process is a matter of handing over a piece of oneself on a platter in the form of a book or a blog post. “Here I am. Here’s my story. Here are these beings who asked me to bring their stories to you.”
So, time will tell but maybe, just maybe I will be able to say once again, “I’m a writer!”