I'll be honest. I’ve never had more than a casual interest in quilts — until I went to an art exhibit called Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt.
It's amazing how much writing a book has in common with creating a quilt.
The quilts I saw, made by women in the rural town of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, were spectacular, modern, geometric works of art. Take a moment to click here to see what I mean.
I saw about 50 of the breathtaking Gee's Bend quilts, watched a riveting video about the women who made them, and met 3 women from Eatonville, Florida, who have about 200 years of quilt-making experience among them.
For 3 hours, we listened, watched, and inhaled their creativity. It was quite an experience. Here are 10 things I learned from them about the creative process, writing books, and life:
1. “However the needle goes, I go.” Sometimes we have to break the creative rules and just see where the needle takes us.
2. “I don’t buy fabric; whatever I have is what I use.” Having or not having the resources shouldn’t keep us from creating.
3. “I never bought a book of patterns. I just put my own scraps together. The more I’d quilt, the better I got.” Don’t stop; keep going.
4. “Alone.” That was the answer the local ladies gave to the question, “Do you quilt in groups or alone?” I've belonged to two writer’s groups and have many creative family members, friends, and colleagues, but when it comes down to it, the actual creative work has to be done alone.
5. “We just quilted.” Five generations of ladies in Gee’s Bend “just quilted.” They sold their work for $5 — until someone discovered them, and now their work hangs in museums and galleries around the country and sells for $30,000 per quilt. It may take generations for someone to discover your creativity, but keep working at it.
6. “You cannot beat out the creativity that is in you.” The first quilter in Gee’s Bend was a teenage girl named Dinah who arrived there in 1859 — to be a slave on a cotton plantation. Today, more than 20 of her descendants are quiltmakers in Gee’s Bend, including her great-great-granddaughter, whose work is included in the exhibit.
7. “We didn’t buy nothin’ because we didn’t have nothin’ to buy nothin' with.” Poverty, slavery, and injustice cannot stop the creative process.
8. “I make quilts from a trunk full of scraps.” You may not have anything but a trunk full of scraps, but you can use it to create something beautiful that will bless you and generations to come.
9. “We didn’t have the education you have today, but God spoke to us through wisdom and understanding.” If you need wisdom and understanding on your own creative project, who better to ask than the Creator?
10. “I asked the Lord what He wanted me to do in His vineyard.” He took her art and showcased it to the world.
So, what's in your trunk full of scraps? I can't wait to see what you create with it.
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If you're in Florida, the next "How to Write a Book" workshop and brunch this Saturday, April 25. Registration is limited to 20 people to keep it small, encouraging, and focused on your book, so click here for more information and then register today.
If you're not in Florida but would like me to teach a workshop near you, contact me at diana (at) peapodpublishing (dot) com.
And no matter where you live, we can set up a personalized writer's coaching session by phone or Skype. Email me for details.