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Friday, 5 January 2018

Going to Waste by Jane Clamp






Today’s blog is based on a very simple idea. So simple that most of you will have thought of it already, but it might prove helpful to some. The photo on the right is the key. In fact, were I to leave it at that, you may find food for thought in the image alone. Nor do I want to disengage my male readers, so I will throw into the pot the fact that both my brothers were taught to knit at an early age, and I remember my older brother’s tank-top and hot water bottle cover. In fact, such is the blurriness of this distant recollection, I can’t be sure I’m not thinking of the same item…



I do a lot of knitting. Most of it is a variation on a theme: the same old stitches reproduced in different colours for different sized people for different occasions. However, my current project had a different instruction. The out-of-place turquoise stripe is not me having a bad-colour day. No! It is a piece of waste yarn which began the garment and will be discarded at the end when I come to graft the final piece.



What a metaphor for the writing process!



So often, we fail to get started because we don’t know how. Our ideas are incomplete. We haven’t left ourselves to marinate for long enough. We procrastinate. We question ourselves. We tell ourselves we’re not quite ready. Anyone will tell you that the hardest point in a project is the start. The middle part is usually the most straightforward since there is a certain momentum that takes us forward, before we face the other tricky part: the end.



I have sat through so many conference seminars and read so many books that tell me how the opening sentence should grip the (sometimes unfortunate) reader and lure them in within those few pithy words. Brilliant examples are quoted and misquoted. The sense of expectation on my writerly shoulders practically bends me double. Of course, it’s enough to stop me getting started and I suspect I’m far from alone.



With my knitting, my first instinct was to use a beautifully co-ordinating yarn colour for the waste row. I’m glad that I re-considered. Every time I look at it, I’m reminded that the start doesn’t really matter. In fact, even if I make a colossal mistake in the pattern, I know I can go back and unpick a section. If you’re about to start writing, or you’re looking at what you wrote yesterday, and you’re sitting in judgment on yourself, stop. Imagine that poor beginning being a support for all that’s to come, doing its imperfect job beautifully, ready to be removed at the crucial moment for the great reveal.




Jane Clamp is a writer, broadcaster and speaker and is Groups' Coordinator for ACW. Her first book Too Soon will be published in August by SPCK.
www.janeclamp.com

12 comments:

  1. How right you are - getting started is definitely the hardest part!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Aggie. Here's to lots of starts in 2018 - and none of them wasted!

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  2. What a great post! This bit is so true - 'I have sat through so many conference seminars and read so many books that tell me how the opening sentence should grip the (sometimes unfortunate) reader and lure them in within those few pithy words. Brilliant examples are quoted and misquoted. The sense of expectation on my writerly shoulders practically bends me double.' By the way, really intrigued by the waste yarn. Never heard of that before. (Am an amateur knitter.) Inspiring post, Jane x

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    1. How much condemnation do we heap on our own, and others', shoulders in our zealous endeavours?! I am resolving to be a bit kinder to myself as I write this year, expecting to unpick the first bits and still end up with something worth the effort.

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  3. I agree with everyth ... I'm just the same when it comes to ... I really feel strongly abou ... What a good post, Ja ... Yes, I think you're absolu .... Arrgghh!

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  4. Brilliant, as always, Jane. Very true of writing and life. Love it x

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  5. Thanks, Georgie! (Do I give up the day job?!)

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  6. Great analogy, Jane! Too often, I get stuck because I want everything to be perfect straight away. And turquoise is my favourite colour, so there's something there for me about accepting myself as I am, rather than thinking I need to blend in with everyone else. xx

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    1. I'm glad you found space within the analogy for your own interpretation. Plus, I didn't know you loved turquoise. *note to self

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