Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Inspiration/Block (for the writer) (05/20/10)
TITLE: Building Blocks
By Ruth Tredway
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Her grandmother’s quilts were widely known, but Michelle was not looking for a quilt today, especially the quality of Granny’s quilts.
Granny stepped out onto the wide porch of her log-cabin style home to welcome her granddaughter with a wrap-around hug.
“Oh, Shellie, it’s so good to see you. I’m glad you’ve come to visit. How long can you stay?” Granny’s hazel eyes sparkled, her lined face lit up with her smile.
Granny’s hug pushed away any lingering traces of frustration left after driving through the stunning fall landscape. “I’ve been looking forward to this. Thanks for letting me get away from the rat race.”
Michelle carried her small bag and her laptop case to the spare bedroom, then went into the large, open living space which was a combination of kitchen-dining area and cozy sitting room, with a quilt frame set up on the wall opposite the kitchen. A beautiful Log Cabin quilt was stretched on the frame, in prints of blue and yellow and white.
“Granny, your quilts are so lovely. Seems like you’ve been making them your whole life.”
“No, child. Not entirely.” Michelle, nearing 30, did not protest at the name.
“Do you ever wonder what to make, what will sell?” Michelle was thinking about her recent struggles with articles she had written, hoping to find a publisher. Did Granny have times like that as a quilt artist?
“My first quilts weren’t much to write home about, but they were serviceable, and Mama and Daddy always encouraged me.” Granny smiled and shook her head.
“How do you keep doing this every day, every year? Don’t you ever run out of ideas?”
“Shellie, dear, you didn’t drive all this way to ask about quilts, did you? What’s on your mind?”
“Oh, Granny, I’m just so frustrated,” she sighed. “I thought writing was easy, and that I had enough ideas to last for years. Lately, though, I’ve not written anything worth publication. I thought a change of scenery would help. I was just curious what a fabric artist does to stay fresh and marketable. Maybe you have some ideas I can use.”
Granny walked over to a small cupboard and pulled out a stack of quilt blocks. They looked like a mismatched collection, not a treasure in the making. “The best advice I have to offer is right here.”
“I don’t understand,” Michelle frowned as she pushed her long auburn hair off her forehead. “Oh, I know quilts are made up of many blocks. But don’t you have to know what the quilt will look like before you make the blocks?”
“Not always, dear. Some days, I don’t work on a masterpiece. But every work day, I make blocks. I have piles and piles of blocks already made up. I don’t have to know where I will use them.”
“Why would you waste time on something you might never use?”
“These blocks are the basis of almost every quilt I’ve ever made. And they all have a purpose. Some of them will become part of an expensive quilt, while many will help to comfort family in need, or the local women’s shelter. They are ready to be used at the right time, the right situation.“
“So how does that relate to writing?”
“Shellie, you and I are both craftswomen. I use fabrics, but your building blocks are words; words formed into sentences, which become paragraphs and then stories or articles.”
“I’m a writer, Granny. I write for a living. Practice pieces don’t sell. I don’t have time for things that don’t count.”
“Create enough sentences, enough paragraphs,” Granny patted the stack of blocks. “Build a stash of them, so that you have things ready when the time is right. Do your best work. God will use those words to comfort people, but He can’t use what hasn’t been written.”
“That makes a lot of sense, Grandma. I’ve never thought of writing as “blocks of words” carefully arranged. I’ll work on some blocks, until I know where I need them.”
Granny handed several quilt blocks to Michelle, saying, “Take these with you. When you get stuck, remember that a block is an opportunity waiting to become useful.”
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