Thursday, March 25, 2010

Fan to Pro

This morning I stopped by Seventh Sanctum, one of my favorite online sites for writing inspiration, and saw that Sanctum Master Steven Savage has published Fan to Pro, a guide about using your fandom to take a new career direction or enhance your current job situation.

Over the years I've had so much fun playing with the generators at Seventh Sanctum that I believe I would happily buy Steven Savage's grocery list if he chose to publish it (what does that guy eat for breakfast, anyway?) However, as it happens the subject of his book is very timely for me.

At the quilt show this year every other pal I saw asked me when I'm going to publish a quilting book. As is, "You do this for a living, don't you? Write something for us!"

Actually I have already written a number of short e-books on different techniques and projects for my guild, and I'm still working on a photo e-book of my wedding ring quilt collection, but I've never pursued writing quilt books for profit. I think part of it is due to how I feel about my quilting. Like my poetry, it's a mostly private passion. In the past I've done commission work, taught some classes and entered a few competitions (and won a couple small ones) but I never tried to make the leap to turning pro. As a quilter I've never considered myself anything special, just an average hobbyist/home sewer -- much more of a fan than a pro.

At the same time I read a lot of quilt magazines and books; I use their patterns and methods and I discuss them with friends. After almost twenty years of that I have a lot of practical knowledge about what works and what doesn't for a quilter. I've designed my own patchwork patterns and invented some methods to handle common problems, especially in the restoration of antique quilts. Combine that with my experience as a writer, and how closely I relate quilting to writing, and obviously there is some potential there.

Lots to think about, anyway, and I'll report back on Fan to Pro after I read it. In the meantime, what non-writing hobby or passion do you enjoy that you think helps you with writing?


  1. Genealogy and my passion for individual history.

    What we're taught in school is all about general history: the Industrial Revolution, the Civil War, Global exploration, the Mayan Culture, etc., but it rarely goes into how change affected individuals.

    How a factory worker adapted to industrialisation, how a sailor adapted to the advent of steamships, a cook to spice imports from the East, a seamstress to the sewing machine...

    We write individual characters and studying my own family tree, the effects of historic occasions on people, helps to flesh them out.

    Everyone lives 'in interesting times'.

  2. Glad you picked up my book, I hope you like it and hope it helps you! It's not the only book from me, I have more in the works . . .

    Oh and for breakfast, usually an apple, yogurt, and Fiber One Caramel Delight (it's so good tasting you can't believe it's good FOR you).

  3. Reading? ;)

    Maybe that doesn't count. Hmm.

    Cooking is something I love doing, both to relax the brain and to find inspiration through more senses. If I reflect on the smells, the feels, the tastes and the sounds it helps me to describe stuff more vividly. I think, at least.

    I just took up sketching again, after having had a... errr.... minor break from it. For some fifteen years or so. I have come to terms, in that time, with the fact that I will not become Frank Miller or Stan Lee. But I took up it again, once I realized that I had permitted myself to be me instead. And right now it feels like "home" in a strange way.

    I guess it will help me to allow myself to forgive my own mistakes. At least I hope so. Because sketching is hard. As is writing. ;)

  4. Anonymous7:00 AM

    I have a lot of hobbies - cooking, some sewing, pottery, knitting - and they all find their way to characters in my writing. I also wrote a blog post that turned into an article on how pottery is like writing:

    In order to write well, you have to live well, or you won't have anything to write about.

  5. I think everything helps with writing. I'm grateful to write around kids because they keep everything in perspective. Photography and painting focus me on visuals. Gardening reminds me that even when it looks like nothing is going on, a lot of growth is happening. And also that ideas are as abundant as seeds; I can spend them freely, there's always more. I'm taking up rowing and horseback riding this year, and I'm sure the cadence will do good things for my writing. Or at least it'll offset the time I spend sitting.

  6. I took up guitar a few years ago, and it's great for my writing because I give myself permission to completely suck at it. I adore my guitar teacher because he has zero expectations of me, and he never, ever makes his students give recitals. ("You want a recital? Go play for your grandma.") My family hears me practice but I've never played in front of anyone else.

    I can play guitar very badly and the world does not end. Therefore, I can write really sucky first drafts and the world doesn't end, either. For an uptight gal like me, this is huge.

  7. I have lots of hobbies, but I think one that relaxes me and gives me the ability to focus better on other things is, I still dabble writing lyrics and music. I like it and the tunes (not so much the lyrics) seem to just flow some days. It makes me feel like I've managed to accomplish something and gives me new impetus to work on my stories.

  8. Knitting helps me, I've found. If I pick the right kind of pattern, I can knit without thinking much about what I'm doing, which leaves my mind free to think about the story.

  9. Like Margaret said a few comments ago, giving myself permission to play a musical instrument badly is liberating. I took up piano last year and I love being a beginner all over again. I love working at something new.

    Doing things with my kids--exploring our yard, doing art, learning together--has freed the playful side of me.


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