Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Sole of the Writer

Recently, my husband and I collaborated on a silent auction contribution for the Story Circle Network Conference held in Austin, Texas. We called it the Sole of the Writer Sock Box and here’s a picture of it.

He carved the conference logo on a wooden box styled to look like an old library card catalog, and lined the three compartments with aromatic cedar. Tabs on the three divider cards had Dewey Decimal System numbers related to the three stages of creating a book. What are the three stages you might ask? Let me tell you my thoughts as I knit the three pairs of socks that went into the box.

The first stage in any writing project is getting the words down on paper, without regard to form, grammar, punctuation, or anything your inner critic might find to pick apart. This is where the writer dreams with reckless abandon – or in the case of a memoir - remembers without reservation. The sock yarn I chose was a bright multi-colored self-striping yarn, and though we don’t necessarily write only happy, playful stories, the process itself should feel unfettered – like child’s play, never knowing where exactly the story will lead. I call the socks Beautiful Dreamers with a mantra knit into each stitch that said, “wake unto me”.

The second major step in writing involves revising and editing. This is where we examine the holes in our stories, and as editors, poke in a few more before the author hunkers down to the business of repairing the flaws. I chose a lace pattern for the socks, because it’s not my favorite sock to knit. In fact, it can be downright frustrating, much as editing one’s own work can be maddening. But even with a few mistakes when finished, the end result is usually quite beautiful. The socks, of course, had to be red. What else for a queen of editing?

Finally, and particularly in today’s publishing environment, comes the third major component of the writing life – marketing. One cannot get around it. If you’ve ever attended a writers conference, you’ll know what most suitcases contain – dark mix-and-match basics that are wrinkle-free and can be dressed up or down with ease. I thought about knitting socks in black or navy wool, but then found a lovely dark money-green yarn with a few specks of color. The color of money was just too hard to resist, and truly there is nothing wrong with working a healthy payback into your writing equation. The mantra as I knit these? Sell, Mel, Sell. Okay, maybe that could be more poetic. How about “I am a money magnet”? No. Perhaps the words from Fiddler on the Roof: "If money is a curse, may God smite me with it, and may I never recover!" Yes, now that has a nice ring to it.

May whoever wears these socks enjoy all the joys of the entire writing process including fame and fortune. What about you? Are there any special talismans you wear in your writing life to give you that little extra edge at every step?

Dani Greer is founding member of the Blood-Red Pencil, and when she isn’t knitting, drawing, reading, or writing, finds time to edit a couple of mystery or history novels each month. If you need an affordable edit on your book, contact her for pricing and details.

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  1. Beautiful idea! The box is lovely, as are the socks and their descriptions. :)

  2. Awesome idea. Love the box and socks. Very creative. I don't think I really have anything I wear that gives me that extra boost of least haven't found anything yet.

  3. Dani, cool box. Being a sock person I'd pay plenty to have some like them.
    Please visit my blog. Best, John

  4. How lovely, Dani. You are so darned creative, it makes my head spin.

  5. I love this idea, Dani. Wish I'd read this blog before the conference. I would have bid on the box. I hope you put a note in the box explaining the socks.

    Straight From Hel

  6. My first thought was, "Wow, you can knit socks?" Perfect gift for this writer, as the heat enters the room above my desktop and my feet are always cold!

    My talismans:
    1. An Obi-Wan Kenobi action figure by my computer. When all else fails I pick him up and whisper, "Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope!"

    2. This wooden, jointed zebra who sits staring at me from his perch on top of my thesaurus. If I want to get out of my chair, I know he is watching me. I see how patient he is, just sitting there, waiting for inspiration to strike. And I think, "If he can do it, so can I."

  7. Very nice story, and I love the socks and the box. What a neat gift that was for one lucky attendee of the conference.

    I recently read another blog that compared the process of writing to first, going on a hike to discover the story and write random notes. Then piecing those notes together like one would piece a quilt. The third step was much like yours regarding the editing and rewriting. I enjoy these analogies about writing. Makes the process concrete instead of abstract.

  8. You should have seen the Dick & Jane quilt another member made, Maryann. OMG, I'm thinking of offering the person a trade! What a tremendous silent auction this was.

  9. Dani,
    I read this last night and had to come back today and leave a comment. I'm stunned by the beauty of the box and the socks; what a wonderful collaboration. The craftsmanship of both is amazing, but your description of each sock and the comparison to stages in a writing project made it exceptional. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Thanks for the nice comments, everyone. There will probably be a similar contribution for the next conference in two years. This is a great group, ladies, so think about signing up. We have a marvelous yahoogroup that Susan Wittig Albert and I moderate, and the online writing chapters are great. Be sure to friend them at Facebook, too, @Story Circle.


  11. Dani, the box was indeed outstanding,the socks were beautiful and the bidding was lively.Glad you liked my quilt. It told me it wanted to go to Austin as I was working on it, so I had no choice but to obey. I'd be happy to make a trade if I had more Dick and Jane fabric!

  12. How wonderful. Thank you so much. The anaolgies are beautiful.

  13. I'm going to start wearing green socks more often!

    Actually, I enjoy marketing. I just wish there were more hours in the day to do it right.

    Morgan Mandel


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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