The most glorious creations seem to appear in full out of nowhere.  That’s the sign of a craftsman. Creating something from nothing is a triumph of imagination and skill. When you sew a stitch, it should be so small that it disappears into the fabric, and becomes part of the whole. The smaller the stitch, the better the seamstress. I imagine words in a novel like stitches. Words should flow seamlessly, without a tug or a pull to take you out of the thought itself. ~ from Don’t Sing at the Table, by Adriana Trigiani

I can’t sew. In fact, I’m hopeless at anything to do with needlecraft. But there are both quilters and seamstresses in my family, and I know the value of an invisible stitch that holds the material together so it lays perfectly smooth and flows in a clean line on the body.

I also know that before the final product is spread on the bed or pulled up over the hips, there are many occasions when the stitches are torn out, the seams deconstructed, the pattern reset or the hems realigned.  This is the work that never shows, the work you never feel when you snuggle under the soft cotton backing of the quilt, or admire your silhouette in the mirror.

It’s also the work you never notice when your eyes devour a page of finely tuned prose, admire a turn of phrase or a deft characterization. Don’t be fooled into thinking that finished product came easily to the writer. Just like the quilter or the seamstress, the carpenter or the stonemason, the painter or the sculptor, the pianist or the singer, there are hours and hours of seam ripping behind that finished product.

The more I write, the more I understand that writing is a craft, one that must be honed and practiced, no matter how naturally gifted the writer might be.

That the results of all this hard work appear effortless in the finished product is just another sign of a job well done.

So don’t be afraid to rip out a few seams in your writing today.

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