Easy as Pie

Recently I was talking with someone who was telling me how truly easy it must be to be a writer. All that free time, connecting with your inner self..especially since I wrote funny books! What was my process? How did I embrace my muse, release my creativity? How incredible, fulfilling and pleasant a way to spend your working life.

I smiled and nodded, because once someone believes that being a writer is a sort of easy thing, where one somehow connects to their happy place and pours words onto paper with wild abandon, there’s no convincing them that it’s like any other job. I also kept my mouth shut because I’m at the hard part of a book and I’m so whacked out that I have no idea what I’d say if I tried to explain. Some things you don’t want to get into when you’re tired and you don’t have a delete key. Being a writer is a pretty wild job and lucky job, but easy?

People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.

-Harlan Ellison

In the beginning I thought that being a writer would be easy. You work from home, you make your own hours, you sit with a notebook and pen under the gently blowing trees, letting the words just drip onto the paper, embracing the creative process and relishing bringing your ideas into being. (Not only was I naive, I apparently forgot that Toronto has a 58 day summer.) It’s a funny thing, but the more I work at writing, the more I come to understand about what it does to you. Writing (even funny stuff) is one of the most hateful things I’ve ever done, even though the payoff is the most fulfilling. I’m working on book four, and bracing myself for a tour for number three, and I don’t think I can apply the word “easy” to any part of it. Parts are wonderful, parts are interesting, parts I wouldn’t trade for a second…but easy?

I hate writing; I love having written.

– Dorothy Parker

Wouldn’t you think that someone who has wished her whole life to be a writer and has suddenly been blessed with such good fortune as to have three books published would get up every single morning and throw herself at her desk with glee, happiness and gratitude? Don’t answer that. I’m already wracked with guilt that I don’t do that. I’m also apparently criminally stupid, since I’ve clearly forgotten what it was like to try to finish the other books. Towards the end of book writing I am shaky, sad, exhausted and out of my mind. I’m sure that Joe and the girls would like to add that I am also unreasonable, obnoxious and loud. (Very loud.)

I … have to constantly balance “being a writer” with being a wife and mother. It’s a matter of putting two different things first, simultaneously.

– Madeleine L’Engle

Book writing is strange and scary. You can’t tell how long you’re going to have to do it, what time you’re going to finish, if it’s going to be alright when you do finish, or if you’re going to spend 3 hours dragging 500 words out of your brain only to look at them, realize 467 of them are complete crap and hit the delete key as you sob for the 14th time because you’re going to need to find a way to carve another 3 hours out of your responsibilities as a mother, probably so that you can write more complete drivel that no-one would ever like to read, knowing the whole time that your deadline is running out while you ponder that you’ve made an enormous mistake and really should go to work in a factory, where at least you can tell if you’re getting something done and no-one tells you your punctuation is crap and it doesn’t matter if you’re not funny. The more I write, the more I worry. Will this work? How will it work? Are we out of orange juice? Is that a complete sentence? Am I procrastinating? Do I suck? Where’s my knitting?

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums to get rid of.

– Shirley Hazzard

I am torn somehow between being profoundly aware of my luck, desperately grateful for the opportunity and deeply, deeply frightened. The only thing I know for sure about this book (and this was true of all of them) is the day that I will be finished. The odd feeling of being given only a destination with no map of how to get there is the scariest thing that I have ever felt, and the very worst part is that the knowledge that book writing takes months and months.

When I face the desolate impossibility of writing five hundred pages a sick sense of failure falls on me and I know I can never do it. This happens every time. Then gradually I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all I can permit myself to contemplate and I eliminate the possibility of ever finishing.

– John Steinbeck

This sense of uncertainty, this feeling of being thrown on a journey and not knowing what it will be like, how I will get there, if I’m good enough to get there or what it will be like when I arrive leaves me angst ridden and…to be completely honest, difficult to be around. I stomp around the house alternately ranting about the mess (because I’m not cleaning because I’m writing, but I’m not really writing) explaining that I need to be alone with my thoughts (when I have three kids and a husband who have a right to be here) and sitting in my office with my head down, typing like a house afire. It’s how to carve that process, the thinking, the stomping, the deleting the laughing the sobbing, the ideas, the relief…out of a family summer with everyone around all the time that compounds the difficulty of writing.

As a writer, I need an enormous amount of time alone. Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. It’s a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write. Having anybody watching that or attempting to share it with me would be grisly.

– Paul Rudnick

During this phase, this scary part, I am drawn to knitting. I love that it’s easy to finish. Easy enough to balance almost all of that other stuff. One row, one stitch…there’s your accomplishment. It’s black and white. Either you have knit or you have not, either the pattern is right or it is not. Knitting has this reliable rhythm that comforts a freaked out obsessive compulsive writer who’s edging their way through the grudge match that is finishing a book. I especially like the simpleness of socks. It’s all about these socks right now.


I think it’s ironic that the lady who told me that writing must be so easy also felt that knitting was way too hard. I’m still laughing about that a little.

See you Monday, when yours truly, a deranged and desperate writer will begin a week of tour in the fine city of Chicago, meeting knitters and getting to procrastinate on the book with some serious style. I’m scared to death, and I can’t wait.

317 thoughts on “Easy as Pie

  1. I relate to you the follow story told me by a classmate who is now a famous writer. He was called to jury duty. He was asked his employment “writer” – employer “well, none, I write books.” The clerk wrote down “unemployed.”

  2. Easy? Lord, how I wish it was easy. Then I would be a writer. I have always thought it must be one of the most difficult jobs out there, and I am forever grateful to those that slog away at it, and provide me with hours of entertainment. Let’s hear it for the writers!
    The sock is beyond gorgeous.

  3. You’ll be fine. Not writing is hard too. You might as well write. You’ll be fine. From a writer who isn’t writing.

  4. If writing was easy, I would be one. Just like if winning the lottery was easy, then I would be rich. HA, It may be a hard process but the results are worth it.

  5. Yikes, has this person never had to write a term paper?
    After my first term paper (9th grade), I swore I’d never do it again. Really swore!
    Went on to a life of writing goddamn BRIEFS. You really do like it. You just don’t like it this minute! xoox Kay

  6. Read Bird by Bird by Anne Lammott (sp?) for more on the difficulties of writing. She’s awesome. And funny. (And it helps procrastinate the actual writing, too!)

  7. Stephanie, writing is the most difficult thing to do , it can leave you bone weary tired. I hope your excursion to Chiacgo gives you some peace , and relaxation and some quality knitting time at least on the the plane. May you have a safe and stress free event , I believe you need it, Wish I see you there but things don’t always go as plan don’t you know, How ever my oldest DD lives in Austin and she said she may see you there. Peace Kristy from Wisconsin

  8. Oh, c’mon, it’s not that hard. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    It sounds to me like you just described the writing version of IT. Can you warp space and time with your computer the way you do with your needles?
    Also, I think that if you write the way you talk, you’ll be fine, hilarious, inspirational, intelligent and informative, and who bloody cares about complete sentences anyway? (Besides the editor and the publisher, I mean.)
    I think the thing that’s missing here is the screech.

  9. I’m still amazed that the only gig you booked in Chicago is on the far southwest side of the city (?!?). I mean, Beverly is a nice enough neighborhood, lots of Irish pubs there (because there are lots of Irish people there), but it’s practically a suburb. Do you have a friend there or something? I’ve lived here for 20 years and have never heard of the shop you’re going to. It’s definitely too far for me and most of my friends to travel to.
    Just be warned… if you travel from Beverly to downtown… you’ll be passing through some of the poorest, scariest, most neglected areas of the city. You won’t be seeing a lot of the “fine” city of Chicago in that case.

  10. I watched an interview with Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and Julianne Moore, all together, adn each one of them said, essentially, they accept a part, and then are sure they can’t do it, that they will fail, and they call their agent to beg them to get them out of this movie. They think each role is the career ending one, and that they will never work again.
    So, Meryl Streep has anxiety issues about her craft, too. She hates it while she loves it. It scares her. MERYL STREEP!!!!!
    You can do it and we will buy it. Simple as that.

  11. Writing is not easy. Having written my share of term papers, test plans, performance evaluations, and yes, even my blog, I can attest that it is not easy. What struck me about your post, today, however, is how writing a book mirrors life. You have no roadmap that tells you what your life is going to be like and you have no idea where you are going to end up. You just get out there and live.
    I find your writing to be funny, insightful, and have even been moved to tears by its sensitivity. You’ll get through this book like you got through the others and you’ll be fine at the end. So knit a stitch or a row or two to regain what’s left of your sanity and keep plugging away. I’ll be on the lookout for bookbookbook4 when it’s ready.

  12. I think writing humor has to be the hardest type of writing – and I thank you from the bottom of my knitterly heart that you are willing to put yourself through that agony for us. Can you imagine how writers who don’t knit get through writing books? At least you are writing about the very thing that preserves your sanity.
    BTW – I saw a great bumper sticker on a car yesterday — Gone crazy, back soon.

  13. Writing…is taking the oozing, throbbing mass of your soul and organizing it according to the constraints of time, English grammer (Lord have mercy!), and intrest. And when you’re done, you’re bone weary and empty. Plus you have to do the laundry.
    ๐Ÿ™‚ keep plugging at it. there’ll be grace for the necessary task!

  14. Just for the record, you’re probably a better mother than L’Engle. Some serious wackiness there. Writing IS hard. But then, so is everything. If I had a nickel for every time someone either said, “You stay at home with your kids!” in a tone that dripped of bonbons OR “I could never stay home with my kids; it’s too hard,” I’d be wealthy.
    Maybe writing is like childbirth and you’re in transition.

  15. That Paul Rudnick quote? That’s me all the way, baby. Cept I never quite get to the writing part. Maybe I should write first and procrastinate later.

  16. I remember your announcement a lifetime ago that not one, but two book proposals had been accepted pretty much simultaneously. And I was happy for you and wistful that I wasn’t a success like you.
    I muddle along with my twice-a-month humor writing commitment, and it’s fun even though I no longer can think of a topic until 4 hours before deadline, and I wonder when I’m going to buckle down and become a Real Writer.
    Then I look at you, live vicariously through you, and go sell some hand-dyed yarn, which is not quite as creatively satisfying (but close) but is so much less stressful. ๐Ÿ™‚
    You ARE an inspiration even in your state of freak-out. (Did you read The Writer’s Life, edited by Jill Krementz? Great b/w photos and quotes from every famous writer, much like those above. Possibly some of the same.)

  17. I’m a poet. A few years ago I had a conversation with a surgeon who planned to be a writer when he retired and asked me how to go about it. When I suggested he spend some time reading and working on the craft, he said he was too busy for that and didn’t need to work on writing anyway. Then he ignored me. I was politely speechless. I’d love to have that conversation over again because I have a very different idea now of how it would end!

  18. Knitting Hard? Writting EASY? I find it hard to even think of the right thing to say on this comment never mind writing a book and making it funny taboot! My hat is off to you Stephanie.
    Have a great time on your tour and RELAX as much as you can. Knit socks till your heart is content…they are all so beautiful!

  19. I’m glad to know all this. Of course, like everyone else, I aspire to someday write a book, make it big, be famous, have book-club readers tell me they loved the way I described the grotto on page 382. I have no delusions that even if I managed to do it, it would be easy. I’m glad it’s going to be hard. At least I’m not procrastinating for no reason. Once I actually get going, someday I’ll look back, nails chewed, hair messy, eyes bloodshot and wild, and say, “I KNEW there was a reason I took so damn long!” As much as I’m excited about the idea of somehow, someday, I’m happy to put it off for as long as possible.
    Enjoy the sock.

  20. Does the fact that it’s number 4 make it a bookbookbookbook? ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Love the quotes. Hang in there–you’ll get it done.

  21. I wanted to be a writer when I was little, but I found that when I *tried* writing, it was all crap and I didn’t gain any sense of satisfaction from what I produced. So imagine my pain when I decided to be an English major! I have never liked my writing, I’ve never enjoyed the “process”. Which is all funny in a sick way, considering I’ve been blogging for four years. Granted I think what I write is sh*t and have alwayes been envious of those people (you, Dooce, a couple of friends) who do it with such eloquence. My posts usually sound like that drunk person at a party ranting & raving about society’s ills.

  22. Oh, I feel for you. But you know in your heart of hearts that a secret part of you (which you mostly doubt the existence of in the in-between times) will rise to the occasion at the 11th hour and give you exactly what you need, just like it has every time before, and it will all turn out fine even though the finale leaves you exhausted and wrung out with the nick-of-time suspense of it all. Besides, the creative process thrives on misery and self-doubt – it’s what drives us to be honest and interesting. (Although it is SO not fair that most of the great male creatives never worry about cleaning their houses and whether or not they are shortchanging their kids.)

  23. I’ve never thought being a writer is easy. With all those “free” time and “freedom” (if these are really true, that is), an enormous sense of discipline is necessary for someone to achieve anything. So, no, it’s really not easy being a writer.

  24. Due to mitigating cirumstances, I’m going to miss your second (*ahem*) visit to the glorious Windy City. I’m sure you’ll be marvelous as you the last time you visited =)

  25. Wow. You sure did a good job writing about writing. Well, I have all three of your books and loved them all. You do a good job. Traveling for book tours must be difficult too (and fun in some ways). Hang in there.

  26. That was so great. And I (not given too much to internet tears) cried to read the Madeleine L’Engle quote. I love what she said, and I love that you even know who she is, and that you quoted her. It feels like life is suddenly working to have different things that are important to me connect.
    Back to trying to balance. Balance. (Whoops, there I go.)

  27. That was a great post. Really rings my bell right now because I’ve been tearing my hair out for the past month over 26 pages I had to write for work. Not even creative writing, just writing writing. (Well, that’s not quite true, but never mind.) And I love Rudnick’s quote – that is so true!
    And I just have to share – I’m getting my first spinning wheel in 48 hours!!

  28. This reminds me of the douglas adams quote “I love deadlines, I just love the wooshing sound they makes as they fly by” I’m venturing out into the world or writing it scares the hell out of me I’m writing up a proposal now to publishing companies to make a book form of the mosh knit…. What if everybody say no…. Or what if they say yes and I publish the book but nobody buys it….. What if I go crazy and stick a 00 needle through my ear???

  29. This reminds me of the douglas adams quote “I love deadlines, I just love the wooshing sound they makes as they fly by” I’m venturing out into the world or writing it scares the hell out of me I’m writing up a proposal now to publishing companies to make a book form of the mosh knit…. What if everybody say no…. Or what if they say yes and I publish the book but nobody buys it….. What if I go crazy and stick a 00 needle through my ear???

  30. Love this post. Also, love Dorothy Parker. I too get alot of “Hey, it’s great to work in your pyjamas!” and “Don’t you work from home? Why isn’t your house cleaner?” Reading about your writing struggles makes me feel better. SO much better that I finally feel ready to tackle my writing tasks head on. Well . . . after lunch.

  31. I am fairly well educated and business minded and taught myself how to knit. But once I get past Dear Stephanie,…..blank (funny my mouth doesn’t do that)
    We love to buy your books & read your blog because you set a precedent…if you didn’t go through these “phases” of your process & allow yourself to be so consumed by it all, perhaps today’s post wouldn’t have been?

  32. I agree that writing is very hard to do. But you?! You make it look like the easiest thing to do on the planet. Although I know that writing in a more structured way to complete a book requires limits I don’t think I could handle, I’ve always admired the way your words flow one into the other. I had the opportunity to meet you last summer in at Willow Books, in Massachusetts and dragged my 16 year old daughter along with me. She had the best time listening to you read your story and it was a thrill for her as well as me to meet you and get to talk for a few moments.
    Never ever stop writing because you share more than witty stories and your love of all things wooly. I’ve enjoyed every story of friends and family and the people you’ve met along the way. You’ve given me a way to think about things differently and live my life in a way I never dreamed possible.
    Thanks for sharing who you are!

  33. Love this post, thank you for all the quotes. I have a friend (in Chicago!) who puts together a zine called “Small Happy,” full of little bits 130-150 words long. I have been trying to eke out that paragraph for a month now. Nothing is good enough! It’s all crap! Maybe some Cheerios would help. At least now I know I’m not alone.
    And I really like Beverly, and the south side of Chicago is *nowhere near* as neglected and desolate as the west side, having worked in clinics in both. It’s far away from where you’ll be, but I always must plug the yummy, mostly vegetarian restaurant called Lula in Logan Square. It makes me proud to be from Chicago, it does.

  34. As I read this, I was just thinking what Rachel W already said: Anne Lamott’s book Bird By Bird pretty well sums up how crazed and insecure writing makes you feel. On the last day of my sophomore comp class, our professor handed out copies of her chapter “Shitty First Drafts”, and whenever things are going badly and I start to wonder whether I should just drop out of college and start collecting stray cats, I read it. It helps, believe me.

  35. Have you read Anne Lamott’s _Bird by Bird_? It’s a funny and wonderful book about writing and trying to write.

  36. Stephanie, I’m also a professional writer (and editor), and I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said, as well as the quotes you cited from fellow writers.
    I’m hyperventilating over a deadline right now, too, but somehow it helps to know that every writer alive has gone through it, is going through it, will go through it many times again before finally throwing up their hands, turning off the computer and calling it a career.
    Although I do have to agree with the occasional fantasy about doing some rote job that has no real accountability, one where thousands of people WON’T notice if/when I screw something up ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I enjoy your writing and sense of humor. As hard as it is, you know you have fans, so please keep up the good fight!

  37. Heh. I hear and feel and sorta smell you on this one. Right now I’m trying to hack out a proposal for book number two and make some progress on the fiction project (it’s crap, I tell you, crap — but completely irresistable). I’m starting to wonder if plumbing would have been a stronger career choice.
    Good luck and say hey to Austin for me.

  38. Yes, yes, yes.
    Sending you strength. May the children be cooperative and the coffee plentiful.
    (From my own little corner of revisions despair.)

  39. I’m amazed by how what you wrote would be equally valid if you’d replace “writing” with “PhD studies”. I feel like this most of the time ๐Ÿ™‚
    Have a great trip. Oh, and when are you coming to Europe?

  40. Oh yes, whenever I have a paper to write I’m drawn to my knitting. I really don’t know how I would be coping without it. Thanks for reminding us about all the hard work that goes into your lovely books!

  41. I get something similar for being a musician. People either look at me and think it’s the hardest thing, or they think it must be so wonderful to be able to practice and play a violin all day. Truthfully, I think anything creative is considered a luxury. While I love my job, it’s like any other job.

  42. One more great writing quote for your files, from the inimitable Dorothy Parker:
    Writing is the art of applying the ass to the chair.

  43. Imagine being desperately close to Chicago (three hours) but unable to find a babysitter (my son is too young to be up late in the evening). Ahhhh the agony! I’ll be thinking of you and imagining how interesting you talk is.
    People like to tell me how easy my job is too (high school English teacher). I don’t smile and nod anymore, I just walk away.
    Please come to Wisconsin!!!!
    Have fun on tour

  44. …a really good pie crust isn’t all that easy either.
    It just goes to show you that perception is not always reality.

  45. Having entertained notions of being a “writer” when I was younger, I feel ya. It’s the most horrible feeling in the world to not have anything to write and having to write anyway. The process is a bitch, but the end product (in your case, anyway) is always divine.
    Big deep breaths. Throw a crying tantrum if you need to, just to get it all out. Then, trust that whatever lucky star that has guided you so far will guide you through the writing wilderness again.

  46. I write stories all the time, tell them to myself, my children, my husband. He always says, write them down, publish them, like it’s just that simple. You describe writing, but I’m thinking take out the word ‘write’ and insert the word ‘parent’. Maybe this would put things in perspective.
    I sew and knit because when I’m done, I can say ‘I’m done’. Unlike anything else in my life, children, housework, etc. I can put that last stitch in an object, hold it up and say ‘done’. There are days when that keeps me going. Sad, huh?
    As an aside-unable to get to Austin, when is Dallas going to make the tour?

  47. Right on. Write on.
    It’s not that I love writing (though I do).
    Writing is hard, occasionally tear inducing work.
    It’s that not writing is even worse.

  48. As a friend was saying to me the other day, if you wanted easy, you’d be a greeter at WalMart. Clearly, easy isn’t what works for you, so embrace the challenge.
    It sounds hokey, but it was what I needed to avoid getting STABBY STABBY at that moment.
    (And I was a Lit Major in college, I feel your pain).

  49. I’m just finishing a sabbatical (from teaching) in which I was writing full-time. Everyone keeps asking me how my “vacation” was. I’m trying to find a dpn long enough to go through their ears and out the other side.
    And ditto the recommendations of Bird by Bird. For anyone who has raised a child, her Operating Instructions will fill you with so much empathetic schadenfreude you may just have to lie down.

  50. Sock knitting is always a good distraction from the stress of the editing process for me. I forget about the draft and misplace it, and then the next one is somehow the better for it. Ha!
    Speaking of that 58 day summer, will you still be able to do the yearly bike tour?

  51. I like the Dorothy Parker quote best- ‘having written’ is much better! I write and edit research papers and manage an academic journal as part of my living. Writing is hard and it’s even more difficult when you have to write for 3-4 anonymous reviewers and itcomes back from the peer review process (which can be quite brutal at times) covered in red and nasty remarks. Ouch! Then you start the darn thing over again.

  52. I have a hard time writing posts for any one of the three blogs I keep. I can’t imagine trying to write a book. Or a bookbookbookbook. Please know that we appreciate the words that you write and share even if most of us never know what the process is to get there.
    Pamie.com has a great blog entry about how she did four page one rewrites of her bookbook, you should read it.

  53. I, for one, am immensely impressed that you are able to consistantly write your blog, let alone churning out almost 4 books in the past couple of years. I would rather let my cat chew on my stash than write..well…anything. Too many essays in my past. I think I am impressed with your knitting and your writing – maybe that you can seem to do so much of both perhaps.

  54. Writing is attractive, especially when it’s smart.
    Don’t be scurr’d. Nothing’s ever so bad that it can’t somehow be worse. ๐Ÿ™‚ Good luck.

  55. Writing’s like a swan. Sure, on the surface it looks elegant but underneath it’s all wildly paddling feet.
    I’m lucky that so far, all the people who’ve asked me about writing (I’m an editor for a trade magazine) have been on the phone so I can’t reach through the line and choke ’em silly when they imply that it’s easy. It’s work. It’s heavy lifting with your brain. Sometimes the words flow effortlessly and life is good. Unfortunately, the other times you’re busy just trying to get it good *enough* while doing the life-equivalent of juggling chainsaws. Best of luck on your fourth book.

  56. As a bystander to the DH dissertation epic (17 years), let me assure you that the family is your biggest fan! No matter what they say/complain/do. And men writers who aren’t ascetics have the same doubts/qualms, childcare guilt. Monday in Chicago! Yippee!!

  57. Back in my college days, when I was in the Graphic Design program, a fellow student said, “Oh, it must be so fun to be an art student! It’s like kindergarten, making pictures all day.” Oh, bite me. (Though I didn’t say that). I’m not a writer, but I am a singer and musician, and I recognize that feeling of being lost on a faint path in the forest with no map to speak of. I just started singing with my first band ever, and nowhere could I find a manual to guide me. The creative process is a terrifying, transforming, and, when you know you’ve nailed it, an exhilirating thing.

  58. Ah poor girl. I would do your laundry for you and take care of your girls ( I have 8 year old twins and a 4 year old, all boys) if it would help but alas. Writting is like pulling your teeth out. I love all your books and reread them constantly. You put into words what the rest of us feel in our knitterly souls but can’t express. THANK YOU.

  59. I know that feeling, and I never even wrote a whole book. Just some magazine articles, and of course the 1752 essays required to obtain a BA in English Language and Literature. It’s nice to know other writers do the same obnoxious thing. You know while you’re doing it that there has to be a better way, but there just isn’t. You just have to keep doing it.

  60. You’re a gifted professional. Only a gifted professional can make it look easy.
    Love your books.

  61. You must realize that context is everything. The lady who waxed poetic on how “easy” it is to write was surely thinking about writing a grocery list. She couldn’t possibly be referring to anything for publication.
    And I, for one, don’t think pie is so easy either.

  62. Amen, sistah! Easy?!!?
    Good traveling, have fun, and hopefully no wienies on the planes. ๐Ÿ˜‰ ::virtual hugs and a bottle of Screech::

  63. You know what I’m going to say (SNAKESONAPLANE), I mean
    Breath in pink, exhale blue… again, breath in pink, exhale blue.
    Ahhh feel better, no, O.K. Heres one for you don’t be afraid of writting/deadline.Hell no,be afraid that denny(me) is learning the intertnet tuby thang. And I got the bad grammer/spelling, and I spread lies…. rummers even.Stuff like “oh yes Stephanie is going to learn to weave too, and she’ll get a loom too”.mmm handwoven linen, you know you want to… See.See I’m evil.
    breath in pink exhale blue .
    good(SNAKESONAPLANE) luck to you. luv dennyx0xox0xo

  64. I have so much to say, so little space in which to say it. (another problem with writing.) #1: human condition mandates that everyone thinks everyone else’s job is cake. (except for astrophysicists.) #2: the whole “inspired writer” myth made the teaching of writing interesting. It’s incredibly difficult to dispel that idea–even I fall victim to it from time to time. #3: It drives me crazy when people think writing isn’t really work. #4: all that aside, I really do enjoy the process of writing–from the chips eating TV watching game playing procrastination part to the moment I find a turn of phrase that I’m really really proud of. I tend not to be satisfied when I’m done because I never think I’m really done. Given the chance, I would tinker forever.

  65. I hear you on the rewards of knitting during stress. I’ve had the most stressful year of my career, and yet have probably knit more this year than all previous combined. There’s something about feeling the yarn, seeing rows and patterns develop, and holding a finished sock to help me feel like I’ve accomplished something tangible. Plus there’s the added benefit of yarn shopping (aka self-medicating) when things get really hairy. Good luck!

  66. I have always aspired to be a writer, but it’s such a personal thing. You put so much of yourself into it. I’m sure it is amazing and seems like a dream but at the same time having to put yourself out there in a very real way time and again has got to be one of the toughest things that you can do.
    We believe in you and we will support you no matter what. Just get out on tour and have fun procrastinating. The deadline will still be there when you get back, just closer.

  67. As another working writer/editor, all I can say is: Deadlines. I love them. I have to meet them. I can’t let them whoosh by. Maybe it means I’m starting draft one at midnight when the final product’s due by 2 p.m. the next day, but the work gets done.
    I’m not sure that I, exactly, do the work. Somehow there’s an article with my name across the top. I’m not sure how my name got there.
    As for Rudnick, I found myself quoting Jeffrey this morning, so obviously he’s doing something right.

  68. I’m an architect, and…see? See me *shamelessly* using your lovely funny blog to put off drawing? Drawing (and imagining) houses, which I’ve done since I could hold a mirror under my chin and imagined I was walking on the ceiling, but which is now terrifying? I’m gonna have to make the blogosphere as off limits to me in final Quality Check Mode as my office is to Any Animated Creature.
    Brava. You caught it. Again.

  69. ummm, Good old John Steinbeck…when I was in school and having to write(bleck,spew,ach) papers, my best friend said….write what you know about and write it like you’re talking….amazingly it pretty much worked (pretty much) but having to actually sit down and ‘start’ and ‘the guts’ and ‘finishing’ really ate my breakfast, lunch, and dinner,every stinkin’ time. It’s not easy, yeah, kinda like life, but I’ll tell you, it’s a pretty safe bet I (and countless others) will buy book #4 and relish it like 1,2,&3.
    You do a fabulous job with your work and life. Really. I love doing my small part in supporting you.
    45 days. And I’ll see you Tuesday. yay

  70. My whole life I wanted to be a writer but I just suck at it. Instead I wound up writing a bunch of diagnostic reports and papers that are better than Ambien when you need to get to sleep.
    Writing is a brave and crazy endeavor and you seem to be in the thick of it. You’ll get through and start another book once you’re done. Hang on, girl!

  71. I’m not sure what it says about me that I find writing (which I do for a living, too) and sock-knitting equally annoying. :} The two have a lot in common to my mind — there’s the endless repetition of going around and around and around with a simple stitch, and, yet, when you check your progress, you don’t seem to have gotten much of anywhere. Eventually, when you finally finish the d*mn sock, guess what? There’s another one to make or the whole first effort was a waste.
    Wow, that’s the worst finish-the-book pep talk EVER. I’m terribly sorry. Let me try again:
    It is summer, so if you really need to, you can go live out your fantasy-as-a-writer thing with the notepad and gentle wind in the trees.
    You’ve done this before, and done it well.
    Your family will still love you when the dust/fibre/fur/insanity and static-charged hair settles.
    There is chocolate. I do not want to know what was done before chocolate, but who cares. We have chocolate!
    There are thousands of knitters (and others, of course) rooting for you.
    Okay. Pep talk over. I gotta get back to writing. We wonโ€™t even discuss the sock thatโ€™s been on the needles since, oh, March.

  72. Your post reminded me of an anecdote I heard about Margaret Atwood:
    Margaret Atwood is at a party, minding her own business, when a man comes up to her and says, “I’m a surgeon. What do you do?”. She turns to him and says, “I’m a writer”. He laughs and says, “That’s funny. When I retire, I am going to be a writer”. She doesn’t laugh, but says, “That’s funny, when I retire, I am going to become a surgeon”.

  73. Harlan Ellison also said that he gets his ideas from Poughkeepsie. Ah well, my trick to keep myself writing is to deny myself the pleasure of knitting or quilting until I have made a good faith effort to write. Then I’m allowed to knit. Sometimes, that actually works!

  74. Dorothy Parker…exactly the way I feel about writing. Steinbeck…excellent advice. Me…If I could hold your hand, if that would make it any easier for you, I would. A load of empathy for you and the person who said it “must be easy” has obviously never written so much as a term paper! I’m filled with anxiety just thinking about yours! bless you and your writing life ()’s, lots of them. BTW, the socks are lovely as always.

  75. My mom’s going to go see you in OKC! I finally convinced her that she needs to try knitting again because 1)she’s retired now and needs something to do other than worrying about me and taking care of my dad and 2) chenille was not a good choice for a beginner project, and I don’t care how badly it turned out, it doesn’t mean she’s a bad knitter.

  76. Hang in there, Harlot, you’ll get the musal flow going soon enough. Here’s some things that help me:
    READ – read something for an escape and that often gets my writing bones a janglin’.
    CURSE LOUDLY AND MOST PROFANELY – I learned this when I became a counselor – it really does relieve stress and will, ultimately, make you laugh at yourself.
    SEX/CHOCOLATE/OR THE DRINK OF YOUR CHOICE are effective means of reminding yourself to feel good is to write good. Writing, people often say, is a crazy process but I disagree. The process of thinking about writing makes one crazy. It is only after you release this manic pain that the writing flows like precious water. Or, bourbon if you will.

  77. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Sometimes I think I could do it. Sometimes it seems an insurmountable idea. Never, ever have I thought it was easy.
    Has this woman you met ever had to write an essay for class? If that isn’t enough to convince anyone that writing is hard, I don’t know what would. And if writing is so easy and fulfilling, why isn’t she doing it?

  78. Wow – I totally appreciate how hard it is to write, wish I could do it. My first word was “book” – I’ve had my nose in one practically all my life, and yet I can’t write to save my life. It’s all crap! For me starting my blog was a conscious decision to try to get better at writing out my own thoughts, and hopefully marginally entertain at least one other person.
    Give me a math problem any day – maths are hard – but it’s either right or wrong… No in between. Writing is so subjective – there are infinite ways to get across ones ideas, and doing that in the magic “right” way is something that you do so wonderfully!
    Keep up the good work, it’s not easy, but (hopefully) it’s all worth it in the end. ๐Ÿ™‚

  79. Steph, a huge part of my real job involves writing technical manuals for animal shelter workers and educational materials for the public.
    None of this involves humor, character development or thinking up a story. It involves “only” what non-writers think of as “spitting out what you know.” People think it’s like turning on a faucet, that I can pour out a six-page article about solving litterbox problems or crate-training a puppy in exactly the same amount of time it would take a typist to transcribe six pages written by someone else.
    It is impossible to explain to non-writers that writing is exactly like pregnancy: while the fetus is under construction, the mother doesn’t appear to be doing very much. All she has is an approximate deadline and no real idea as to how it will turn out. It makes her sick, it makes her tired, it makes her do weird things, it makes her throw up, it makes her happy, it makes her sad, it scares the crap out of her and then all of a sudden it’s ready, and needs to come out immediately.
    When I was sixteen, I wrote to SF author Ray Bradbury and asked what advice he would give to an aspiring young writer. He replied with a one-sentence letter: “Write something every day.”
    That is not easy.
    I know it won’t do any good, but allow me to remind you that every member of your family is capable of running a vaccuum cleaner and operating Mr. Washie.
    Well, maybe not the cat.

  80. Amen, sister.
    It’s been a few years since I really applied myself to the craft (in that “I plan to publish” way), but even some of the casual stuff I’m doing these days gets that anxiety and misery flowing. The Boyfriend has become accustomed to me sitting at my computer muttering “I hate this…I’m never doing this again…Why are you making me do this?”
    As for my favorite writing quote: “Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.” – Robert A. Heinlein

  81. I’m in the midst of writing a doctoral dissertation, and what you say is true for me as well. I can’t imagine what I’ll write or where it will go or how it will make sense. So I sit and write one word, one sentence, one paragraph, one page at a time, day after day, and eventually it adds up. The good days are when something unexpected happens and it’s good. The bad days are when it is exactly what you expected, and it sucks. Hang in there!

  82. Writing is easy, but writing well is one of the hardest things in the world. Writing from the heart is THE hardest (I do some science writing – no comparison). I can’t imagine the psychic energy that is required to put yourself out there on paper for the world to see and judge.
    The number of books you have produced in such a short amount of time is mind numbing (plus blogging). I love your books and fear that they will stop coming if you burn yourself out. Somebody needs to talk to your publisher about stretching out that book contract so that your deadlines are not so deadly! One of my favorite writers went through a dry spell after cranking out a book a year killed her muse. One every two years has worked much better for her.
    Just saying.

  83. Deadlines can make anyone a little loopy. I keep thinking about Bill Engvall’s bit about how stupid people should wear signs.
    “Here’s your sign.”

  84. I have Obsessive-compulsive disorder, probably since forever. I used to take the canned biscuits out of the fridge (I was about 18 mos old), line them up, put them back in the fridge, then repeat the process. In high school, if I had to write a paper, there would be gnashing and wailing and crying (mostly crying), because I couldn’t get the first sentence perfect. It had to be perfect before I could even start the rest of the paper. Writing has always been difficult for me. I know that I can and I know that I don’t entirely suck at it, but it’s hard work.
    There’s nothing easy about being an artist of any kind. Visual artists need to know the ins and outs of how color, form, composition, etc. Musical artists need to know the ins and outs of how sound works. And Literary artists (that’s you) need to know how words, sentences, paragraphs, all work together to form ideas that make sense. None of that is easy and a lot of people don’t realize the pain and anguish that goes into any artform.
    Art, if it’s good, is going to take part of your soul with it. If you go to see certain paintings in person, you can feel it almost like a tactile sensation. I think that you have the ability to make this happen for your readers. You’ve touched so many lives and wouldn’t have been able to do that if you sucked at writing.
    The Muses have blessed you in so many ways. I wish you much luck and fortitude.

  85. I really love the Shirley Hazard quote! That is the state I frantically try to avoid, wanting the children to survive to adult hood and all. Mental stability does have it’s good points. Having revealed MY lack of togetherness, I must say, I own all your books. And I DON”T KNIT!! and I still enjoy them!! So, if you can reach people you’re not even aiming for, you must be doing this right.

  86. I stuck this quote from Ray Bradbury on the front of my computer monitor: “If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool God ever turned out and sent rambling.” Writing is easy, writing well is HARD, and it’s too bad most people don’t realize the difference!
    We’re so looking forward to meeting you in Ann Arbor…some of the knitters around here could probably supply you with insane knitting-related stories if you need new fodder. ๐Ÿ™‚

  87. I’ve always thought that being a writer was like doing homework for a living. Blech! Thank you for sharing your talent and we appreciate the countless hours of hard work that goes into putting it on paper.

  88. You are an inspiration. I’m just so happy to hear that you perform your job exactly the way that I perform mine: procrastination, panic, work, repeat as necessary. And yes, I do a fair amount of writing at my job.

  89. since I couldn’t write to save my own life, I will go do laundry.. no soul searching there! just clean undies when I wake up tomorrow… Ms. harlot, don’t forget to breathe, we would be lost without you, our knitting compass… ๐Ÿ™‚ PattiO

  90. Wow, that was wonderful! You took me on your writing journey with you. I have always wished I could write. You’re very funny and inspiring. Enjoy your tour and enjoy the journey!

  91. Writing is easy? ha!
    As far as I can tell, all writing is desperately hard, even when the end product is good. Creative writing as you describe above oh so well. Research paper writing – gah! Even charting (nursing) is horrible and that’s not even really writing. (I’ve come down in my writing life I see from this list). I always know I’ll eventually finish, but getting there is horrible. Actually, charting never ends, now that I think of it. I should work on that now.

  92. “It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums to get rid of.”
    As someone in the middle of the summer of endless grant writing, this absolutely made my day. I am a lunatic right now. Absolutely crazy.
    What a relief that all writing feels like this… I’ll keep at it if you do too…

  93. Writer here, and I’m hearing you loud and clear. Not everyone gets how hard it is, but I do, and I applaud your work. Keep it up, even though it’s hard. Very hard. Very very hard (says the woman who can’t get anyone to understand why she translates dead languages).

  94. (don’t have time to read the other comments, hope I’m not repeating what’s been written)
    About writing, Eudora Welty once said “All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”
    Like that’s easy. Much sympathy from my office (where I’m supposed to be writing myself) to your house.

  95. I finished book 3 last week. Read it cover to cover like I did the other 2. I wish I had that book when I first started knitting. The information in there is incredible. And something I can still use. Your style is fabulous and you make me laugh out loud! Can’t wait for book 4 and I never thought for one moment that any of it could be easy for you. But I’m sure glad you’re a Writer.

  96. Anyone who thinks “writing is easy”, should do NaNoWriMo (http://nanowrimo.org/) You’re given the entire month of November to write a 50,000 word novella and see if you don’t suck! I tried one year, and yes, made the word count, but my novel sucked.
    Anyway, I just read Knitting Rules! after having picked it up at the bookstore. For me, given that I had to remind myself that I was reading a book written by someone else, and not the spillage of my own head, I can see how to the naked eye of other knitters who are as obsessive as myself, writing such stuff would seem “easy”.
    It takes a good writer to have reached someone to the point where they say “Wow, that is so much me! I could have written that!” The Yarn Harlot’s book did that to me, and it takes someone special and unique to “get” me and how my brain functions.

  97. That’s why they call it work — whether at home or in a factory — it’s all hard. Do what I do, hire a housekeeper — of course once you do that then your family will just complain everytime they have to “pick up” for the housekeeper.

  98. I’m so glad the socks are giving you relief. The funny thing about that yarn is that it gave me a real “oh, crap” moment when I was dyeing it. At least once every dye day, I start working on some yarn when, suddenly, I realize that it just looks like hell. Then I’ll get an inspiration and do something else to it and it’s fine. That was the skein that day. Hope the inspiration rubs off and helps you with the book!

  99. Great post. I think you could substitute anything that involves a smidge of creative energy for the word “writing” in there though. Projects involving creativity are like kids. You worry about “doing things right” when you’re pregnant, and then after you release your children into the world, you worry about having “created” them right.

  100. Those guys probably never wrote non-fiction, especially for an audience like yours!
    Hey, Steph, do you ever knit socks from the toe up? All the pix are cuff down.

  101. Hi Steph,
    You write well. I have and do enjoy all of of your published books.
    I found it very interesting that you used the comparison that knitting was “black and white” when I’m staring at the typed word (black and white) and you so often rejoice in the world of colour in your knitting.
    The shorter passages of writing seem very similar to the rows or stitches of knitting. There are successes and failures and, at their best, both processes are a extremely creative but bound by their particular sets of rules. Both occupy the mind, and, still to a large degree, the hands. While editing is frustrating, is tinking any less so? And publication must have a comparable joy to putting on the completed sweater.
    Neither of these crafts is easy but both do have their immensely satisfying joys.
    I am deeply grateful and appreciative that you pursue both.
    Happy knitting and writing.

  102. It has been my experience that the most creative people seem to be the ones that find the creative process so difficult. And so necessary.
    Abigail’s right, with math, there’s no middle ground. It’s either right, or it’s not.
    But creativity? That means putting yourself out there specifically for people to throw their opinions at you. And those opinions are about you. Positive or negative, even the most self-confident person in the world is going to feel that. I don’t know about you, but I sure dread the negative stuff.
    Enjoy the mad travels of the tour, Stephanie, and maybe some of your creativity will shake itself into an order that pleases you while you’re away from the book for a few days.
    See you in Aurora.

  103. From your discription of what it’s like to be a writer, I get the impression that it’s like any other job. Sometimes you love it, sometimes you hate it, sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s difficult. There are days when everything goes wonderfully and others when you could rip your hair out by the handful. There are times when it’s so interesting that you can’t stop and other times when it’s so mind-numbingly boring that you would kill to walk away and never write another word. I think that some people believe that writing is easy because of the commen belief that another job (ANY other job)is easier (more interesting, more satisfactory, more rewarding) than the one you have. The most common question I was asked after telling people that I was a stay-at-home mom and homemaker was “Don’t you get bored of never having anything to do?” No one knows what any job is truely like unless they have done it, and even then so much depends on the individual. But some people have enough imagination to realize that there are ups and downs to everything. Someone mentioned being a WalMart greeter as an example of an easy job. Standing all day, saying “Hi!” to people who ignore you as they hurry past sounds like hell to me. So, I guess it all comes down to your own point of view.
    I’m just glad that, no matter how hard it can be at times, you’ve decided to be a writer. I love your books, they entertain and amuse and make me laugh out loud when I recognize a bit of myself. And, while writing them may be hard, they’re very easy to read, so I hope you hang in there and continue to make my life a little more enjoyable.

  104. Good luck… I know that you will pull through this and produce yet another masterpiece. I reread the previous books over the past few days and was struck again by how well your voice comes through in your writing, how friendly and inviting your prose is and how glad I am that you share your writing with all of us.
    In regards to the profession of “writer”, there’s a great episode of Sex And The City (episode 80, entitled “Hop, Skip and a Week”) where Carrie tries to get out of jury duty by explaining that she is a writer and therefore she cannot serve jury duty because no one else can cover for her.

  105. I had a friend today tell me that she once taught herself “knit one, purl two” but that knitting is too hard. Um, I’ve never seen a pattern that actually says, “knit one, purl two” – that was an old song. And, uh, all knitting is is purl and knit stitches. Yeah, right, like that’s all that hard. Raising a kid, now THAT’S hard!

  106. I know it’s not always easy to write. I do admire you. Also, I’d love to know what yarn you used for the socks?

  107. Having watched my hubby struggle to complete his still unsold first novel, I have a clue of what you are talking about. It is not easy and if it were, everyone would do it. Hang in there – you are too talented not to get it all out in the end. ๐Ÿ™‚ Sock looks great – have fun on the tour.

  108. “Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
    -Gene Fowler

  109. I get the same people telling me how lucky we teachers are to have the summers “off.” During the school year, though, noone seems too willing to trade places!

  110. Eegh. I can certainly sympathize. Hubby is a trying-to-be “RPG designer”, which really is just a very very specific subset of “writer” (which I believe pays in carpet lint, as opposed to the usual peanuts), and I’ve been trying to write as well. He’s been out of work a while, so it’s both of us and the two kids in the house All. The. Freakin’. Time. trying to get writing done in between raising the children (who are sooooo going to need therapy someday) and trying to keep the house in order.
    It has not been pretty.

  111. Yeah, writing IS easy . . . it’s writing WELL that’s hard. Any idiot can write crap, but, sweetheart, you give joy and we thank you for it.

  112. After reading all that (because you are a good writer I was compelled to continue) I still dream of having the gift that you have. I keep meaning to let you know that the person who lead me to finally pick up knitting needles was Kaffe Fassett. Not necessarily a “Knitter” but the way he can use colour and yarn inspires me.

  113. Hey, who is this Paul Rudnick guy and why was he spying on me when I was writing my dissertation?

  114. Having flip-flopped between my dream of writing and giving up in frustration for years, I truly admire anyone with the self-discipline to finish a book. It is not as easy as some make it look because it truly takes a part of yourself and incredible discipline to stare at a blank computer screen for hours on end trying to wake some muse.
    Knitting an elaborate lace shawl is cake.

  115. I think everyone’s job looks easy to someone on the outside. In 37 years as a librarian, if I had a nickle for every time someone said to me, “It must be nice to be a librarian and sit in a quiet place and read books all day!” I would be rich and retired!

  116. Well I am still in awe! I cannot imagine the work and maybe I do but sit back and read your books and enjoy your wit and your use of words. Sometimes I think writers have some special muse that does allow them to stomp around and yell after all they are creating. Enjoy Chicago.

  117. “strange and scary. You can’t tell how long you’re going to have to do it, what time you’re going to finish, if it’s going to be alright when you do finish”
    Sounds like childbirth to me. And we all love your “children”. Chin up, you’ll get thru it.

  118. This same lady who said it was easy, probably also believes that she can write too. I’m a graphic artist and deal with people like that everyday. Everyone thinks they can put some words together and WHAM you’ve got a story…just like putting a couple of pictures together makes a great layout…please ****sigh****
    Anyone who is involved in a creative process has to go thru those stages of progression โ€“ I think you’ll do great! Taking a break like and letting your self to see it thru fresh eyes helps.
    Can’t wait to see you in Chicago..I too will be one of many at My Sister’s Knits. Not to make you nervous or anything:)

  119. If writing were easy, I would blog.
    Breathe. Knit a bit. Have a glass of Merlot (no, it’s not too early). Remember you have friends in town who are available and willing to help with some of the non-writing related heavy lifting if it could be of use to you.
    So weaving eh? (coz you know I’ll believe anything Denny sez) Interesting.
    Breathe, remember?

  120. I find writing extremely hard because I can’t swear. That is to say, I swear a blue streak while I’m doing it, but the actual writing is rarely allowed to contain one simple f*ck.
    Weaving. Denny. Jesus, I’m not sure Toronto is a safe enough distance away, because she’s a mighty powerful influence, that Denny…and I’m easily influenced these days….

  121. Love use of the Madeleine L’Engle quote. Her autobiographies and nonfiction writings are great, about the artistic process, etc. But for that matter her fiction is great, as well…..

  122. I’ve never had kids but it kinda sounds like that. I’ve had friends that were 9 1/2 months pregnant in the middle of summer in Texas and then the labor, the pain, the shouting, the blaming. But before long they want another one. Maybe that’s kind of a trite analogy but it’s the creator in us making us create even when it’s painful and makes us crazy.
    Thanks for being so honest.

  123. Well, I’m taking a break here from writing my dissertation, a break which involves…eating cereal from the box (and occasionally dropping a piece down my cleavage) and reading your blog.
    Everything you have to say is completely true for writers of all kinds of projects. Especially major projects. Especially major projects that involve living in semi-squalor (and possibly poverty) for relatively long periods of time. Good times, good times…
    Thanks for articulating the process so well.
    Me? I’m knitting on average about four socks a month. I may never finish the dissertation, but at least my feet will be happy.

  124. Through your writing you have made me laugh. You have encouraged me…who has so little faith in herself. I sit down to tackle my knitting and I silently say, “Be fearless when you knit.” That is a direct quote from one of your books. Yes, Steph, I’m sure it’s not easy and I’m sure there are those who criticize and that’s tough for them, because YOU HAVE MADE A DIFFERENCE. You are in no way compromising your mothering skills. Your girls are proud of you, as was evident when they posted on the blog. If you’re a little cranky due to your deadline, it’s the price they have to pay for having a great mom. When the time comes that you need to stop writing, you’ll know it. In the meantime, we all love you. See the comments? What do they tell you?
    Peace, Blessings and Hugs – Connie

  125. You have just eloquently explained why so many great writers have substance abuse problems.
    I am a professional fundraiser, and people say the same thing to me. They think my life is throwing glamorous parties. Reality is, it’s a crazy mishmash of writing (lots of writing), psychological profiling, shmoozing, lugging boxes, and meticulous planning and organization.
    Safe travels to you on your continued tour, you’ll be brilliant. And thanks for all you do on your site to promote personal philanthropy. Every gift counts, every effort makes a difference.

  126. I think many people think it is a piece of cake and such a treat to make a job out of something really creative like writing, or knitting, or binding books, etc. etc. But, the quickest way to kill hobby seems to be making it a job.
    Kudos to you! It is refreshing to see someone point out that being a creative professional doesn’t mean that it isn’t “work”!

  127. I can so relate to this, being a writer myself. I’m not even a real writer; I’m a technical writer. If I tell people I’m a writer they get that look in their eye, that “I am in the presence of a creative person and maybe even a celebrity” look, and then they ask me what I write, and I tell them, and their eyes are like the lights when the power goes out. What could be easier, they think, than explaining how something works? Any fool could do it. (Software engineering managers often feel this way.) And maybe any fool could, but I can’t, at least not without all the procrastinatory hair-tearing you describe so well, including knitting. Especially knitting. Thank Goddess for knitting.

  128. Harlot, you worry too much : )
    Uh…. New Mexico, Texas and Arizona in July?!? You need a new publicist.

  129. Writing is easy – wow – I agree with you and many of the quotes and I have chosen not to be a writer – unfortunately as a scientist I have to write lots. I am just amazed that you wrote 3 books in one year. AMAZING. I can completely understand writers block.

  130. Only someone who has never written for a living would think that it is easy. I spent the last 8 or so years of my career in a job that required varying amounts of writing. It was technical, legal writing not creative like yours but still it is so much harder than anyone realizes. My previous jobs also required varying amounts of writing. Some of it was just writing letters to people asking for information that was required in connection with their claims for benefits (I worked for Social Security). I will never forget one of the first letters I wrote. I was so sure that I had clearly & concisely phrased the question I needed the answer to. When I got the response, I realized that the person who received the letter had read the question in a completely different manner (both readings were correct) & answered correctly but did not provide the information I needed. My hardest job was one in which I spent all my time writing legal decisions for Administrative Law Judges. Not only did I have to be cognizant of the legal requirements but I had to be sure to use language which the claimant could understand. Anyone who thinks that being a writer is easy should have to do such a job. And, in those cases, the writer doesn’t even have to come up with the topic which to me must be the hardest part or the format which is also difficult!!!!!!

  131. Stephanie, I just had to comment on this entry, because I am so *so* happy that I’m not alone, and pretty relieved to find out that making your family’s life miserable (in this case) is all part of the creative process. As a translator, things should really be easier for me, since the stuff I write has already been written. How sad is that? Anyway, love your blog, even if it’s not about cross stitching. Good luck on your tour!

  132. I find writing excruciating, especially the self-examination part. My friend Harry was writing a book and put a quote on his office door, “90% of writing is keeping your butt in the chair. I can keep my butt in the chair.”
    Yeah, more like a bed of needles…
    Looking forward to seeing you in Los Altos, and possibly other SF Bay Area locations…???

  133. Every word of this rang so true for me! I’m a musician and a writer, both of which are incredibly tough jobs, and I’ve always said that people on the “outside” don’t understand how much work it really is. I have had those days of sitting in front of the computer for hours, wanting to write, not writing, procrastinating, and finally cranking out a thousand words of utter crap. I’ve played guitar for an audience of two and had nights when I made no money at all.
    And yet, there is something so wonderful about it that I go back to the book-in-progress. I go back to the same coffeehouses where I made no money. And I try again. That’s all you can do, right?
    So, much sympathy with your plight. ๐Ÿ™‚ I wish you tons of good luck with the book and the tour!

  134. Ha! I am avoiding writing as I am reading your blog, by knitting ๐Ÿ™‚ I would like all of the people who think writing is an easy slacker job to sit down, write something witty in ten minutes, and hand it to a group of their worst enemies to grade, analyze, and nitpick. I think most people forget that writing is a lot like public speaking, only in text – people actually read what you write! They catch that unfortunate typo that both you and your copy-editors managed to miss! And they get angry about it!
    Yikes, I am psyching myself out. Anyways, I feel for you, even though I think you’re a great writer and don’t need to worry quite so much. Go out there and break a needle.

  135. My writing cohorts used to say of publishing professionally, “The longer you write, the harder it gets.” True for me, which is why I’m writing very little these days.
    Keep plugging, though, because you have a unique voice and niche!

  136. I used to own a bookstore – victimized by greedy landlords & high gas prices, it closed this spring. So sad. Anyway, everyone seemed to think that owning and running a bookstore was so romantic, so hobby-like. They assumed that since I owned a bookstore, I could spend my entire day reading… and when I tired of that, I could knit! I never read fewer books in my life, or got less knitting done. I spent my time worrying about employees, theft, sales, catalogs, author events… etc, and then there are my two young children!
    I pondering the thought that being self-employed as an author is much like being self-employed in any small business that looks like it might be a hobby… polling the LYS owner, she concurs.
    Anyway, I love your books, your blog and your sense of humor. I’m not always familiar with the parties involved, but can appreciate the life.
    We’re in northern california (sierra foothills, near Sacramento). We have nice yarn stores. The really nice bookstore is closed now, but if you’re publicist can see fit… you know the rest.

  137. I once worked on an independent movie (don’t ask–the next time that particular urge strikes, I plan to lie down until it goes away) and at least one of us cried every single day. Eventually we started ending every day by asking “So, what did YOU do today to screw up the entire movie?” Which is to say that we all fear that we are not enough. Dear Steph–you are so much more than enough. I’m rooting for you and the book. You know we love you no matter what, and that you can’t fail us–right?

  138. Never considered myself able to write. Term papers and the fourth-year thesis were not my things.
    But I wrote about a life-altering illness that happened to me. And it was bang-up good. For the first time in my life, I wrote about something I knew, rather than something I tried make sound good. I think that’s what did it.

  139. No doubt about it, writing is hard, hard work. Writing about personal stuff is even harder.
    I’ve been a technical writer since 1985 and I still get butterflies with each new assignment. They all begin with “Oh s*#t, how will I ever do that?” and end with a sigh of relief and a desire to write the damn thing over! Again. At least it’s emotionally neutral writing.
    I wish what I had in common with Meryl Streep et al. was physical attributes, not performance anxiety!
    Chin up, Harlot. We love your books and your blog and you.

  140. I also think you’re less likely to be ’embracing your muse’ right now than you are threatening her with pointy sticks…
    Breathe. Drink. Breathe again.

  141. You do know that pie isn’t easy, right? ๐Ÿ™‚
    Enjoy Chicago – I wish you had been there last week, then I might have seen you – when I was there. But alas, it was not to be!

  142. Oh, I know EXACTLY what you mean. I am one chapter away from finishing a novel. When I tell someone this, they seem to think that means I am happy to have almost finished it. I don’t tell them that I have been one chapter away from finishing this novel since my child was born. A year and a half ago.
    So really, having a deadline is a good thing. It means all the angst about finishing has been replaced with the angst of pissing off a publisher and perhaps losing an advance, an angst that is a lot less easy to ignore. So buck up, little soldier!
    I think the worst part of writing is how lonely it is. Just you. And that damn computer. You can’t really talk to other people about each step of the way, because each step is an internal struggle to find words. Not terrible interesting for others to listen to. That’s why I find it hilarious that they keep making movies about writers, and yet hardly ever show them actually writing. That’s ’cause it’s BORING.
    Better end this comment before it’s an epic. Good luck with the long slog to “The End”!

  143. I love reading your books! You are a breath of fresh air. Your wit and humor are a rare gem. I appreciate how down to earth you are in the description of your life revolving around family, knitting, work and friends. Good luck in Chicago. I hear there are inspiring yarn stores there.

  144. Gosh, do I know what you mean–and my books are neither personal nor funny. I have a lot less pressure than you have!
    My favorite writing quotes:
    “It’s easy to write. You just sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”
    โ€”Red Smith
    “Writing is easy: all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.”
    โ€”Gene Fowler

  145. God love your sweet little heart . You sound as if a vacation is due and I don’t mean a tour. I hope you can get away from it all in the near future. Go to Nova Scotia and sit by the ocean and just veg for a bit . Sound good ? Take care and have a safe trip.

  146. Have you read “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott? One of the tips she shares with potential writers is that “good writing is about telling the truth.” You tell the truth for us when you share from your experiences, your feelings, your soul. Thank you for being willing to experience pain in order to put your truth into words for the rest of us to recognize ourselves and our truth.

  147. I haven’t read all 159 comments, so forgive if this is already mentioned:
    Can you dictate your words onto tape (or whatever digital gizmo is currently hot) WHILE YOU’RE KNITTING and then transcribe your thoughts, editing as you go?
    Time for some serious chocolate or some great wine. Hey! We need a chocolate wine!!!!

  148. Oh do I know the feeling! I do not write nearly as amusing things as you do (currently contemplating my dissertation), but I do know that writing is serious work! I’ve gone through all the emotions you describe above. I’m grateful that you keep putting yourself through it as your end products are wonderful!

  149. I feel the same way about writing a script. It’s like giving birth getting to the first draft stage, and then you have someone read it and the mark all over it. I hope to have your guilt one day when my scripts make it to the big screen = ).

  150. That’s so ludicrous that someone thinks that writing is easy. I love writing, when it’s done. But the process of writing is so torturous. I’ve never felt the life of writer is something that’s easy. It definitely takes a lot of work and I know for me, whenever I’ve worked on writing papers and such, most of the time is spent procrastinating doing other things until the wee hours of the morning when the words start tumbling out of me. But I always have to get to that feverish stage, nothing really easy comes out. But know, all 3 of your books have been roaring successes, your next one will be too and we will love it and adore it. Enjoy the process. Hopefully one of these days you’ll get to Denver!

  151. Ah, another one from Douglas Adams, “Writing is easy. You only need to stare at a piece of blank paper until your forehead bleeds”

  152. Oh, don’t you worry about finishing that book. Everything you say is brilliant and witty. You’re just worrying yourself too much.
    See you next Saturday!

  153. Dear Harlot, May I be frank? I’m going to go against all the above comments and say that you seemed happier and more content when you were “only” knitting and blogging and mothering (and wifing.) But maybe that was not so. In any case, through your blog and humor and books, you have reached a truly amazingly huge number of people. Who woulda thunk it?

  154. A big hug to the Harlot. I am reading book three. I have yet to read book II and I but they are on my list. You inspire while you perspire.
    We love you for it.

  155. My Barnes and Noble order containing your “Meditations” book just arrived today. Very Happy! (I also got Last Minute Knitted Gifts)

  156. I don’t think anyone has ever told me that my job was “easy,” but I do tend to consistently get another reaction which is “that sounds like fun!” I’ve had the good fortune to do work that I truly enjoy – costumes for theatre and occasionally other things as well, films, wedding dresses, etc. And yes, some of it is fun, but it’s also hard, utterly mind-boggling, and downright exhausting. I’ve never made a great income and often times find myself working on projects alone with no support staff, although at my recent post I’ve had health insurance, a rarity in the small and middle sized theatre industry. When I get the “fun” reaction though I just say, “yup” rather than getting into a lengthy discussion about the sacrifices one has to make in order to do the thing they are best at and feel enables them to make the largest contribution to their community. I empathize with you Stephanie.
    I also love your books and look forward to meeting you in Austin. I hate to tell you how hot it’s going to be…

  157. That is one thoughtless person. Don’t they read? Have they ever wondered why they laugh at stuff, why they cry at other? It’s all about someone slaving away at form, function and words. Who hasn’t sweated through some nasty English course sometime when we were made to write when we had nothing (we thought) to say? It was sometimes when I thought I had nothing to say, and someone made me coax that nothing-ness into words in some kind of meaningful order that made me realize I did have something to say. Stephanie – keep your eye on the prize, do the work you were put on earth to do, and enjoy Chicago and cities beyond where we wait to shower you with our love. You rock, babe!

  158. Go Girl. I’m saying that in a Southern accent type manner of “You Go Girl” that means I know you can handle all this and I’m behind you. Have a wonderful time. We’ll all be hanging out here waiting to hear everyting.

  159. All writing is like you describe. Even my kind. Luckily, my page limit is 50.
    And I don’t get points for funny.
    Get back to work baby.

  160. Goddess love you…you’re so right… when I’m driving, I’m writing, when I’m talking to myself I’m writing when I’m doing laundry I’m writing when I’m chasing the toddler around I’m writing and when I sit at the computer I’m typing all of the stuff I’ve been writing all day and when I think it rocks and the world must see it I realize in three days that it sucks and I go back and edit it and (unless it’s a blog, and I’m still getting used to that) thank God, Goddess and other that no one saw that crap I thought was great. When it’s published you worry, if no one says anything you worry and if someone loves it you worry that the next one will let them down. You read every review twice and worry and every comment three times, until you are interpreting comments that have interpreted your work and you worry if someone gets it wrong if it was your fault. Knitting is perfect. Knitting is easy. Knitting is blissful. Writing is turning your brain inside out on hot coals and flipping it around a couple of times to make sure it’s seared black on all parts before it gets carved into bits and digested. And now I have to memorize that to tell the next person who says “being a writer would be soooo easy…”

  161. Although I haven’t written much fiction (my few attempts were miserable failures) I understand where you’re coming from. I think most people going through the writing/creative process experience some or all of the following:
    -sobbing/banging head on desk
    -rage; the almost overpowering desire to destroy your computer and burn all notes
    -certainty that you’re a complete and utter idiot, a failure and how did you ever think you’d get this done?
    -when it does work, obsession. When your SO or any other human being attempts to communicate with your or otherwise tear you away from work, you feel like Ben Gunn in Treasure Island. You’ve been stranded on a deserted island for years and don’t really remember how to talk to other human beings.
    Been there for my undergraduate and master’s theses. Will be there again for my dissertation.
    You’re not alone. Not at all.

  162. I’m a free lance translator and can relate totally. Working until 3 am is ok because “at leats you’re at home” and now that we have opened our shop “at least it’s compatible”. If compatible means I can do it at lunchtime and after 10 pm, yes it is. But I also enjoy it tremendously, which is why we do these things, isn’t it?

  163. I love it when people who are not engaged in an activity look in from the outside and assume that your job is easy. People assuming that writing is easy (and many do assume this) make me almost as irritated as people who tell me that they wish they could have children and stay home with them because they would love more “free-time” and that “it would be fun”.

  164. Writing opens huge wounds and inflicts horrific pain. Writing is bleeding on the page.
    But damn if we don’t just have to do it anyway.
    – Not writing is worse. –
    I have a column, an interview, two book and four CD reviews due in three weeks. I’d rather knit.

  165. I wrote a thesis once. Actually twice – honours and PhD. That was hard. At least I didn’t have to be funny when I was writing it.
    The quotes are great – did they help with the procrastination? ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Good luck with the next leg of the tour and with the writing.

  166. It’s not just being a mom and a writer, it’s being a mom and anything creative — how to balance the needs of the family and home with the need to create. You express it very well. See you in Mesa. Safe traveling —

  167. Dear Stephanie,
    Best of luck and a wish for a feeling of fearlessness on your tour. I hope it all goes wonderfully. I’ll be sitting in your audience in Portland, cheering you on.
    Thank you for your writing. If you didn’t go through all that pain to get the words out, the world would be a less interesting, darker place.

  168. Preaching is like that for me too – EXACTLY – including the burst of energy (desperation?) in the wee hours of the morning. My husband is always wondering why I don’t just write my sermons earlier in the week. That’s just crazy talk. Earlier in the week my writing wouldn’t be so in touch with my deepest, most “un-filtered” self. I secretly LONG to be able to sit in a comfy chair, early in the week, and craft a sermon. But that’s just not my gift. My gift is hysteria.

  169. My husband and I publish a weekly newspaper and I refuse to write! I cannot imagine that anyone would want to read the drivel that I would write. I feel I am doing service to the world by not writing! So cheers to you for even taking the chance and putting yourself out there for all of us to enjoy. It’s not easy to say the least. You have to put yourself into people’s head and try and figure out what the heck they want to hear. I want to say that I think what you do is great! I read every word (sometimes a few times over) in every book you write oh yeah and the blog…kind of shameful how many times I check a day to see if there is a new post. I can’t wait for the next book. See you in Chicago!

  170. Thanks. I needed this today. I have a much less interesting, much less glamorous, much less important piece of writing that is flogging me at the moment, and I loved the quotes you put out there. If John Steinbeck felt that way, well, maybe I’ll be okay. (Except for the part about how I suck desperately and awfully and everyone will laugh derisively when they read what I’ve written, other than that, no problem.) The thing that’s amazing is that for some people, writing doesn’t hurt. I wouldn’t believe it, personally, but I’ve met a few of them, and aside from hating them with a hotly-burning fire of jealousy, well, good for them. And they don’t all suck either, if that’s what you’re thinking (because that’s how it should be). But I suppose those people are just freaks. Most people are like you and me. More wine?

  171. I second Rachel’s comment about reading Bird by Bird. Perhaps the best, most realistic book about “the writing life” ever. I think every 9th grader should have to read the first chapter of Bird by Bird the first day of English class.
    If writing was so easy, why don’t all of us have books on the bestseller’s lists…….mainly because it is HARD. I have a friend who is a writer, who thinks I am some kind of goddess because I can knit. I feel the same way about her, because she can write. For her, writing seems to be somewhat easy, but I think that is mainly because she is endlessly curious – she is always asking “what if….” And she has to answer those “what if’ questions for her own satisfaction. But it does consume a great deal of her time, and she is pretty structured about it.
    Besides Stephanie, I think you could write more if you gave up all the knitting, but then…..what would inspire you to write? Vicious circle, ain’t it?

  172. I have sock procrastination…& its only the gusset of my 1st sock :O(
    I always loved the thesis/outline/research part of writing. I could do that on time-early even-but then when it came to putting it all together, it was yellow legal pads & coffee at 2 am & I still had to type it after that! So in college I majored in Finance, something mathy that I have no clue about. Darn fate: Now my job is to write-manuals, memos, letters, advisor communications-for all the math-brained finance-literate who can add but not communicate. Hang in there Ms. Pearl-McPhee, you write for the joy of others. We appreciate your efforts.
    …wonderpublicist: please send Stephanie & Joe to Socal for a relaxing weekend in LA or SD…

  173. Stephanie,
    I really look up to you because of your humility and humour and I know a lot of other people (not just knitters!) do also. You and your book are going to be a success, so do not fret, stop procrastinating, and if 467/500 words are crap, at least 73 words are a success. Cheers, mate.

  174. Okay, short-time regular reader, first-time poster. I haven’t even read all the comments yet. But you need at least one more virtual hug and drink.
    I can certainly sympathize on the work of writing. I am a author (web-only), but I can not call myself a writer until I must write or die. I am currently on the second side of the equation while raising my child and toddlers (yes, more than one at the same time)–and while neglecting most of the other occupations that I must do or die.
    While I am a fiction author, I learned in the course of writing my little story–okay, it became a novella–just how true all the statements and feelings you’ve expressed are. And just how loud my characters can yell when they feel they are being ignored.
    …Or just how long a quick post can take because I had to keep going back and correcting my words and spelling until they say what I want to say and still can’t get it right (sorry, Steinbeck just had to show up for this sentence). This post was written with only two previews; a personal best.

  175. I have to write the most important essay of my life this weekend. For application to medical school. Do you know HOW MUCH I want to knit right now? How I’m not visiting my boyfriend this weekend or knitting so that I can WRITE THE STUPID ESSAY! There is a deep frustration within me. The more I try and write well, the worse it turns. I feel for you. Your words are inspriational to a worn out pre-med student/knitter.

  176. Wow, writing sounds horrifying like parenting. And you’re choosing to do both simultaniously?!?!?! I am soooo in awe. Now go get yourself a good drink and a nice lie down.

  177. And thank you so very much for being brave enough to do all of the things that don’t come so easily. We are all better for it.

  178. I absolutely LOVE the colour of the socks in that picture!!! (and yes, that deserves three exclamation marks)
    Writing is totally not easy. I used to think it wasn’t too hard – until I started writing. I’m working on a novel and have a little over 3000 words so far (I don’t get the chance to work on it a lot), and I’m working with a bunch of other writers to collaborate on a novel as well, which I need to finish very soon.
    Writing is easy? Apparently that woman has never tried.

  179. Anyone who thinks that writing is easy has never done it properly. Ditto for teaching (my profession). I’m looking forward to your new book!

  180. Being a graphic designer (who works at home), I can well relate. What an agonizing process, trying to constantly create something new. When deadlines approach and the ideas just don’t come, the stress levels rise, the self-doubts surface and crankiness sets in. And I procrastinate, big time. My husband will ask, as I’m knitting (or perhaps washing the floors), “I thought you had to design that logo for tomorrow?” (He just doesn’t get it.) Finally, in the wee hours of the night, the ideas will suddenly start to flow and I get into that zone where I lose track of time and everything seems effortless. It’s then I remember why I do what I do for a living. (Alas, after presenting my carefully thought out logo to the powers-that-be, I end up having to change it, because the CEO’s cleaning lady doesn’t like the colour blue.)

  181. There’ll always be someone who thinks your job is easier or harder than their own. Usually I get the former. Grass on the other side is always greener, right? Not many can see the effort behind every accomplishment.
    Thank you for the hours of entertainment you’ve provided us!

  182. I think it’s incredibly hard to write and am in awe of those that are able to. Me, I rely on pictures and just describe what’s there.

  183. I am a graphic designer and get the same sort of thing, “but you like itโ€ฆit’s easy for youโ€ฆ you want me to pay youโ€ฆdon’t you just do it for fun? Yep, and all that “fun” pays the phone bill.
    I went to high school with Doug Coupland and when ever my Dad sees his name anywhere he says, “Didn’t you graduate with him? He went to art school too didn’t he? Why can’t you write books like he does? Yeah, sure Dadโ€ฆ I’ll just whip off a “Generation X”
    I don’t think non-creative types can begin to comprehend the creative process and just how unique it is to every individual. I am glad you do what you do and I admire you for having the tenacity not to give up when it’s rough going.

  184. Wow! Sounds like my last blog post, but instead of writing it’s veterinary medicine! “I’ve always wanted to be a vet!” Yes, but do you realize the sucky side of it?
    We appreciate all you suffer for to bring us humorous books about what we all obsess about and wish we could get paid to do…but without deadlines, restrictions, guidelines. Oh, never mind, I guess I just wanted to grow up to be independently wealthy.
    Keep trucking and we appreciate you so much!

  185. You are a gem! Your honesty makes me weep with joy – this is how most women feel about something in their lives and never will admit!! Knitting is honest and a joy and THAT is why we love it so much.

  186. I hate to write. (I got a B.A. in English Lit.)
    I have bought (paid for, cash money) all your books and feel they were well worth it. You have a vision in your head of how good it ought to be; all we’ll know is what gets on the page, so even if it isn’t quite your original vision, we’ll never know. Remember: we’re on your side.
    Famous quotation: “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.”
    The sock is beautiful. Idle question: How do you get such consistently tight tension with needles that look bigger than the stitches?

  187. I once had a writing professor who told me I would never be a good writer because I had not suffered enough. She made me go through everything I wrote and take out my “favorite” words, sentences, and paragraphs. The ones I thought were brilliant. When I was finished she would say, “Well done. Now it is nice and tight.” It was scary, and the reason I did not become a writer. No, dear Stephanie, it is not easy. You are brave and fearless, and we love you. Don’t ever give up.

  188. I am so glad you do what you do. The results are WELL worth it. Thanks for sharing a bit of what you go thru so we can be so well entertained.
    I am eagerly awaiting book book book book!

  189. Let me assure you–you’re funny. So you can quit trying to be–you’re there. Thank you for being a writer, for going through it all. By doing this with your life you’ve greatly enhanced this knitter’s life. I am eagerly looking forward to seeing you on the book tour even if you are deranged and desperate. I’ll be thrilled just to see you in person. Also, don’t forget to try some of that Airborn stuff so maybe you won’t get sick from all the airplane germs. Try to rest easy. We all love you.

  190. Dear Steph – Please be assured that your efforts will come through and your new book will be wonderful. Each book has been enjoyable, and each one different. I liked #2 & #3 best and can hardly wait til #4 comes out. There will always be folks out there who *haven’t a friggin’ clue* what it’s like to pursue a creative career. And truly, for them, it’s better that they sit behind a desk, file & staple things. You have a special gift & I’m very happy you share it. Thank you. Hang in there!

  191. Who was it who said, I paraphrase here, “Writing is easy, all you do is sit down and open a vein.” Don’t talk to that woman again. She’s silly and insensitive.

  192. I have never posted before, but tonight feel as though I must. I mommy full time and write part time for our city newspaper. I find myself on my knees in front of the computer drinking in your every word in near disbelief. Your amazing post perfectly describes my experiences. Stay the course…you will wrap this one up as well. May your week away rejuvenate your writing energy.
    I am anxious to see you in Austin. My hubby is driving me up for the event. Sending you postive thoughts and prayers from Texas.

  193. Writing is so NOT like sitting down and just spilling words over a page. And your comparison to knitting could be misleading too. After all, how many times have you frogged something to the beginning because it didn’t work the way you wanted it to?

  194. Exquisitely well written. As always. And for me personally, wow, what incredible timing: because today I just FedExed all the projects and all the words and all the insanity to my knitting-book publisher. Despite waking up with a raging fever–which, somehow, fit. I want to feel a sense of relief, but I don’t quite; I know the editorializing hasn’t even started. I told my family, if I ever again say I’m going to write a knitting book, just take me out and shake some sense into me, okay?

  195. Only the sense of relief of completion can relieve the panic you are feeling. It will happen! It has three times and will happen again. I don’t know how you stand the wait between the finish and the publication. It’s like giving birth and then not seeing the baby for a year.
    I can’t believe that Brenda won’t come from one end of Chicago to the other when I am planning on coming from mid Ohio to Michigan to see you. You are my idol!

  196. Thank you for baring your soul to us. Even trying to write this, to do justice to how your words made me feel is difficult and takes several attempts. Something about realising that procrastination is normal, I’m not lazy or incompetent, and something about the fear of creating – “look, this is me”. So maybe it’s time to stop hiding!
    Thinks, “John Steinbeck even..”

  197. Hi Stephanie,
    Do you know your description is a 100% hit of my current situation, only I am preparing an oral exam in French (years after I studied at the university and had two kids instead of taking the exam then). But I feel just the same, I don’t know whether it will work, whether I have read the right texts and had the brilliant ideas about them – that is not until next Wednesday. And here I might be better off than you, as I know this craziness ends soon (My 6 year old son is really really looking forward to next Wednesday.
    Good luck, your fourth book will be a success as the other three!

  198. Since you are at the the “What have I done to myself” stage of writing, I thought this might be a good time to thank you for writing your books! They’re wonderful. I had a brain injury a few years ago so typing and writing are usually very slow and painful for me. I have to drag the words out of my head one at a time, and then arrange them on paper. What a pain!!! So I have great admiration and respect for those who can write well. Your books are wonderful, funny and (especially Knitting Rules) inspiring. My memory isn’t what it used to be so I really have to work at knitting but thanks to all of you wonderful knitting book writers, I keep learning new ways to go around my brain so I can knit. And yes, I can now knit socks!
    One thing many people don’t appreciate is how hard it is to work from home or to take your kids to work. I did that for quite a while and while I appreciated the opportunity, I didn’t realize how hard it would be until I had committed to it, then I felt like I needed to be committed LOL! If I concentrated on work for 8 hours a day, I felt like I wasn’t doing my job as a mom. If I concentrated on my family for a few hours, I felt like I was neglecting work. Meanwhile the dishes, housecleaning, lawn and laundry were all vying for my attention. I always felt like I was never doing enough in any area! Whew! It was a relief in a lot of ways to go to work somewhere for 8 hours a day, and be able to concentrate on just work till I got home! I know a few men that took care of the house and family, and ran their own business from home. They had the same problems that I did!! They thought it was much harder than it sounded, and that it was easier in some ways to go back to a 9 to 5 job somewhere else! At least then they could concentrate on work at work, and home at home. So thanks so much Stephanie. You’re the best. You keep on writing and we’ll keep on reading. Promise!

  199. Stephanie I too am a knitter. A writer no way in the world. I vowed never to write another paper after highschool. What a nightmare. You write your blog very nicely. I enjoyed reading it very much. To write is not easy. I don’t know who it was that said that, but they are crazy. Keep up the good work. Those socks are very pretty.

  200. I feel about crochet as you do about knitting. It is my place to feel accomplished when my job as a special education teacher frustrates and stresses me out. Accomplishment at work is a long slow process. Crochet is instant gratification, creativity, and amazing results! Keep stitchin’ and writing! (grin)

  201. Writing on deadline is a good bit like crafting for production. It can really sap the joy right out of the creative process…not to mention the inspiration!!
    A couple more writing quotes:
    “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” ~Walter Wellesley “Red” Smith
    “Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.” ~Gene Fowler
    Write on, and knit on, Steph!

  202. Every since I got laid off from my “regular” writing job, I’ve been working as a freelancer from home. I used to think that would be fun – no boss, no clock, unlimited creativity! Now I know the simple truth – it sucks. When the cats aren’t in the way, there’s so many distractions to – well, distract me. T.V., knitting, reading, and cleaning! The cleaning! It is so fulfilling! Much more so than writing. Or calling around to find new jobs in the hope that you will eventually be able to pay the bills. Mercifully, I write 600-700 word articles, not books. If I had to write a book, I’d probably be reduced to flagellating myself with large knitting needles!
    Write on, Steph! I’ll see you in Ann Arbor and lend you all the moral support I have!

  203. I’ve dabbled at writing ever since I could use a pencil. I’ve been published a few times, even been paid for it. This post made me laugh, made me reflect, made me remember – and now it will send me back to the keyboard to pull up a short story I wrote last December and need to edit and market. Thanks!! (Now did I mean that thanks gratefully or sarcastically? Even I don’t know!)

  204. to you from another writer (as yet unpublished, but working on it). Knitting is my favourite procrastination tool too!

  205. That poor woman didn’t even know you were there. She was dreamily talking to her own fantasy. Very civil of you not to wake her up. If she’s lucky she could go her whole live believing she’s about to start writing and die without ever disillusioning herself.

  206. Keep on grinding, Steph! Your books and your blogs are beyond wonderful, and your pain is our gain.
    See you in Arizona. We can’t wait!

  207. I have never doubted the uphill travels of writing. It does seem it would be so easy…but then you sit down and everything you thought sounded so good inside your head just doesn’t seem as charming on paper…
    I am still planning my Chicago adventure. I too am scared but also can’t wait!! Hope to see you there!!

  208. OH my……..whatever writing you are doing is totally amazing! Just bough your latest book last night and am enjoying it thoroughly. I relate. I laugh. I knit. You inspire all of it!!!
    Enjoy your trip!
    hugs, Doll in Ottawa

  209. “Wouldn’t you think that someone who has wished her whole life to be a writer and has suddenly been blessed with such good fortune as to have three books published would get up every single morning and throw herself at her desk with glee, happiness and gratitude?”
    This reminds me of another vocation you are intimately acquainted with — MOTHERHOOD. Every day it’s an incredible, miraculous adventure, but every day it’s also the hardest thing you’ll ever do.
    I love the books; I like hearing what you have to say, and the way that you say it.

  210. Thinking is easy. Writing is hard. No matter how long you procrastinate, you have to end up actually typing words into the computer. And then (if you’re me) you keep going back and obssessing over it and changing it and trying to make it better till you lose all perspective and can’t tell if what you’ve written is really good or complete and utter pig swill. The best writing advice I ever got was from a friend’s dad when I was 17. When I told him I wanted to be writer, he failed to congratulate me. Instead he said, “Oh, you’ve chosen a very hard road. You will write 10,000 words before you write a single good one. And it might be another 10,000 till you write another good one. It’ll be millions of words before you have enough good ones to make a good short story or article.” That one little speech brought out my stubborn streak and gave me a backbone.

  211. Oh how true this rings, as I sit here procrastinating over tomorrow’s sermon. That is, IMHO, a very special kind of writing hell – has to be well researched, personally engaging, relevant, inspiring, and memorable, but will only be heard once by an audience of about 100 people, and will then disappear without trace, while I start sweating out the next one. What a good thing I only have to work on Sundays, huh!

  212. A Professor once suggested to me that I change my major to English and become a “writer”. I said that I didn’t think so, because right now I don’t have time for it … and I needed to make money to live on at the moment.

  213. I like to write, love to edit (my friends think I’m insane), but I’ve never written anything of substance more than a college report. I’m amazed at how much I have to work to write a simple blog entry–and I don’t claim to be an author. I have to get the “rhythm” of the sentences just right without being clumsy or repetitious. I don’t know how anyone can write an entire book. I’ve always wanted to write the Great American Apocalyptic Novel (I never said I wasn’t slightly bent), but I can never get past the very first briefest of ideas.
    I don’t always particularly think knitting’s easy, but it’s definitely easier than writing something that someone else wants to read. And to write something that people will read more than once is a gift.
    The sock’s looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday night (okay, me, too) . . . .

  214. Lovely and dead on. I especially loved the Paul Rudnick quote.
    I say this as my friend and I start writing our first book…

  215. I know exactly how you feel, but I feel this way about sewing. I have gone though all the steps that you mentioned. Many a night I have stayed up until sunrise to meet a sewing deadline. I know the overwhelming feeling that I’ll never finish a project. I hate it and love it all at the same time.
    Beautiful sock.
    Gotta go sew! I just finished a top for a bridesmaid and I have another dress to sew for one of the guests.

  216. Wonderful post. It reminds me of Annie Dillard’s “The Writing Life” in which, if I remember correctly, she spends a great deal of time describing the many ways she’s come up with for avoiding writing. Some of them were very imaginative. hmmm…if you haven’t read it already, maybe you should wait until after you’ve finish bookbookbook4. ๐Ÿ™‚
    As for the “easy” comment. I think the issue is that people of great skill, whether master carpenter, artist or writer of hilarious knitting books, are so good at what they do, that they make it look really easy. But we know very well that it isn’t easy at all.

  217. Writing is easy. Anyone can write if they choose to.
    Writing something that other people want to read and others want pay you for – now that’s hard.

  218. Dear Harlot,
    This is hands down the best (and briefest)description of the writing life I have ever read. Kudos for the excellent use of quotes. Gabriel Garcia Marquez in his memoir “Living to Tell the Tale” quotes Rainer Maria Rilke, “If you can live without writing, don’t write.” Very harsh but has a certain truth to it. Feeding the soul by wordcraft often is not a nurturing experience in the warm,fuzzy sense but it keeps a body going because it’s the kind of diet that keeps one hungry. Bash it out anyway you can and we’ll cheer you on.

  219. I’m with Paul Rudnick…anything to procrastinate… dishes, laundry, making brownies, eating brownies, and I’m only writing scientific papers… maybe it’s easy as brownies?

  220. Stephanie, as your tour brings you to Oklahoma City I hope you feel supported by the love and respect that your readers have for you.
    You are a terrific writer. You touch our hearts. Your blog makes me laugh out loud and brings tears to my eyes – sometimes at the same time.
    See you Tuesday–I can hardly wait to pick up my three autographed books!

  221. Stephanie, bless your heart, you just described exactly how I feel when, as an artist, I start a new painting. It looks great, it’s going so well, then it somehow becomes absolute crap with no hope of reclamation, so I turn it to the wall in disgust, feeling talentless and betrayed by my muse and life in general. Then a week or a month later I turn it around and think with amazement “Oh, I just need to change this and fix that” and it’s all good again! Cycle through about 6 or 11 or those bouts and it is “done”, and often brilliant besides, or at least acceptable. Oh, but I need to fix just this little thing, and then, oops, that one too, for another week or two, and then I force myself to sign it so I will just STOP. And there is now a real finished painting and people say “Wow”, and “I wish I had your talent”, and even more often “I love your work, I wish I could afford it!”. And I tell myself “Gee, that’s nice for my ego but it’s still not paying the bills.. I should have gotten a “real” career…” as I work in yet another “real” ๐Ÿ˜› job.
    So trust your muse, she is always there; the proof is mightily apparent in the graceful genius visible in your blog and your other books. Thanks for sharing, thanks for all your other books, I LOVE your work, and I’m so glad I can afford it!

  222. My favorite quote about writing is from Thomas Mann:
    “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than for everybody else.”
    I also heartily concur with others that you should read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, if you haven’t already, but you probably have.
    Think how funny it is to have spent a year teaching a class on academic writing to a bunch of hopeful young freshman, while simultaneously procrastinating 90% of the time that should have been spent writing the dissertation? If I taught them anything, it’s that writing is hard .
    But rewarding, too. You’re dead-on about how the knitting fits in. I keep trying to explain this to husband, professors, fellow grad students — knitting is the only thing keeping me sane right now, and possibly the only thing keeping me writing! The only one who really gets it is the fellow grad student who sews, knits, and makes jewelry like a mad, immensely talented dervish — and who just successfully defended her dissertation! Hurrah for knitting as a means of helping brilliant, independent women to succeed in the masculine world!

  223. O Great Knitter:
    Completely off the topic — BTW I am an English teacher and writing is the hardest thing anybody has to do — you state that you like natural yarns and abhor acrylics. I’m with you on that, but what is one to do when the Yarn Goddess has made you allergic to wool? That is my horrible fate. I am allergic to wool. Cotton has no “memory,” and doesn’t stretch.
    Any suggestions? My friend recently introduced me to your blog — I laugh out loud so much that my husband checks on me. Thank you more than you know.

  224. Can’t recall who said it (and way too lazy to get up and look), but one of my favorite quotes about writing goes something like “writing is easy – you just stare at the blank page until drops of blood appear on your forehead.”
    It’s hard – it’s work, regardless of the rewards. Don’t feel guilty!

  225. well Steph, i’m heading out tomorrow early some time.. and won’t make it to your Mesa book signing.. etc.. tears are flowing.. and not just cause i’m leaving nyc.. i wish i could see you again in another state.. but then again.. who knows.. i might make it straight out to you.. hee..hee.. no i’ll be good and not leave my dad and brother in the dust in my brother’s mini van.. haha.. ok i’m off to sleep and then up tomorrow very early to pack up the last odds and ends.. they are coming back with the truck and i hope i can unscrew the desk and pack up the computer and oops my files too.. haha.. hugs see you in blog land in a few weeks:-(
    hugs karola
    oh well i guess i’ll have to change my blog name now.. sad.. k

  226. Marji, if you’re truly allergic to wool, and don’t just find it itchy, three words:
    cashmere, alpaca, and qiviut.
    Before you go to those, try a really smooth, soft wool like merino.

  227. One word, one sentence, and the agony of it all. Thank you for going through that process so all of us can read and enjoy what you do so well, even though it is so very difficult at times.
    See you Tuesday in Oklahoma City.

  228. Interesting, because while I can write a business letter and some press releases, I don’t think I could be a writer to save my life. Knitting I CAN do though. Proof writing ain’t easy: A friend of the family’s mother is Jean Auel (Clan of the Cave Bears, etc). The first book was wonderful, the second was great, the third was rather good. The rest of them have been mostly focused on “burning loins”. And that’s a deal for 6 books.

  229. Some people are just idiots. Just smile, nod and make little voodoo dolls of the offenders when you get home. (Ibelieve your daughters could help you on this one.
    I’m excited, I get to come see you on Monday!

  230. I have pursued two “hobbies” turned carriers ballet (very briefly) and academic mathematics. Nothing killed my joy in an area faster than the pressure involved in trying to make a career out of it. I think that people have rose coloured glasses when it comes to some (most?) professions. They just see the good and not the bad.
    That said, we love your books and lots of us read them. If I do ever publish, my paper will be read by about 5 mathematicians if I am lucky.

  231. I think I can sort of relate. I am an opera singer. (I’m still working on the “famous” part.) All through college, everyone thought it must be so easy to be a “voice major.” I mean, all you do is sing, right? I’d like to know how many emotional and mental breakdowns they had in their classes!
    I am looking forward to your trip to Chicago. I am dragging my poor husband up from Indianapolis. (Mostly because I am too chicken to go to Chicago alone.) Have a safe trip!

  232. I think I can sort of relate. I am an opera singer. (I’m still working on the “famous” part.) All through college, everyone thought it must be so easy to be a “voice major.” I mean, all you do is sing, right? I’d like to know how many emotional and mental breakdowns they had in their classes!
    I am looking forward to your trip to Chicago. I am dragging my poor husband up from Indianapolis. (Mostly because I am too chicken to go to Chicago alone.) Have a safe trip!

  233. I’m finishing up an intense, four-week writing seminar for teachers. We spend our days reading and writing about how to help students become more effective writers. My sister Carol, who reads your blog daily, called me and said, “She says the same things about writing you say. Go read today’s entry.” So I did. I do most of what my big sister suggests.
    I’d like permission to download this particular post about writing and show it to my classes, many of whom believe they can’t write because the right words don’t pour out of their heads and onto the paper the first time they try. I’m keeping all the drafts of the article I’m currently working on–arrows, deletes, inserts–so I can show them that writing takes time and dedication. But like kids don’t believe parents, students don’t always believe teachers, so I’m quoting you for support!
    By the way, my sister knits and I crochet. I do it for the same reason you mentioned–It’s one of the few things I do that becomes a tangible, finished product!

  234. No advice. No fancy words. Just thanks. For all the compromises and sacrifices and work you do. Because bazillions of us love you and the work you produce. I have all your books and look forward to the next one. My children love your books. Seriously – all the way down to my 2yo who can’t put them down. And thanks to Joe and the girls for all they put up with and compromise and sacrifice so that you can do your job. ๐Ÿ™‚

  235. I enjoy writing, but it can be very stressful. I used to do it a lot more when I was too young to care what anybody else thought… Now it’s harder to get the thoughts to flow on paper (or the computer.) It’s not easy, that’s for sure!

  236. Dear Steph…
    Are you up for what is quite possibly the best queso ever? Are you going to be in Austin on Friday night, before your talk? If so, you are officially invited to a Kirby Lane Queso Consumption! Let me know if you’re up for it! My Treat!

  237. I have a question, A friend of mine’s mom was given a big bag of yarn that is clearly handspun and hand-dyed. But my friend says the spinning was really rough and the carding must have been poor, because there is still a lot of plant bits and such in it. My question….can you re-card and re-spin the wool? Her mom is looking for somewhere to give it away at, and my friend and I wondered if a spinning guild could do something constructive with it. Any suggestions?

  238. Ditto’s on the writing thing. I don’t seem to have much of a problem writing my life, but plenty trying to write fiction. You describe the ‘process’ (which is different for everyone, but in the end, work) very well. I have avoided this task for some time but now find I am at the place where I can not longer avoid it…I need to write, and I do.
    “If a story is in you, it has to come out.”
    William Faulkner
    Good Luck,

  239. for Alyson –
    Some well-known commercial wool still has bits of plant matter left in it. Often it comes out when the finished product is washed and blocked.
    It might be possible to un-spin the yarn and re-card it, or at least re-spin it, but it would be a lot of work and would change the dye color arrangement, probably into mud. It would probably be better used for something felted, like a lot of big colorful bags. Or if there’s enough and the colors are compatible, a knitted and felted “elfin rainbow cloak”. A good solid felt cloak will keep the rain off.
    I’d try test-knitting a bag out of it first. A lot of stuff does come out in the wash.

  240. I always liked math, because there was an ANSWER. You knew when you were finished. With writing, it is so different! I like READING- seeing the finished product- but, man… to look at writing as easy? Yikes! Well, enjoy the next ‘ride’, anxiety, nausea and all…. it could be worse- you could be a mathematician! ha! (no offense to the ‘mathies’ out there…)

  241. I’ve read all three of your books. Each was different. Each entertained, taught, explored, and made me laugh and cry (at different parts). Writing isn’t easy..but it it so clearly your forte…keep slogging away at the hard stuff..and eventually the light will come on and you will be done(much like the timer going off for a cake in the oven)! Then when you are in that magical glowing place you can say “I’ll never do it again” (just like we all say after giving birth)and not mean a word of it! We will have bookbookbook4, and we will love it!! Just like we love the others..just like we love you..because you share so much of who you are in your books, because you make us laugh and cry and learn something we didn’t know before. Because you do it in a way that makes us all feel like we are each your friend and you are confiding in us!! Enjoy your tour…. meet all your nutsy fans!!Enjoy a little nip of the bubbly! Don’t let the writing make you crazy…and never,never let them see you sweat and toil over the hard parts! As my dearly departed mother would have said to you …head up, shoulders back, onward!!!!! It’s gonna be a good ride! (I added that last part!!)……….jenna..see you in Phoenix!!!

  242. Steph, you’re not alone. Any art is just as you describe – I’m a magazine art director, and every month I feel the same fear, guilt and self-loathing you do. Deadlines rule my world, and I often find myself putting things off till the last possible moment. It really is part of the process. I won’t be stupid enough to tell you to embrace it, but after 7 years of doing this I’m not afraid of it anymore. I realize it will come together. There’s a point where you have to give up the control you want and let the process be what it is (those two actions use different parts of your brain). For whatever reason, that process has had its way in your life before, and you’ve come up with brilliance. Just because it doesn’t “look” like what you imagine it should doesn’t mean it’s worthless. But it is definitely an adventure.
    That is why I like knitting: all you can do is knit the next stitch.

  243. When I started training as an accountant all I would get is the complete opposite. Accountancy, well that’s very hard. And in brackets, not really something a young girl should try. Better stick to fluffy kittens. I reckon being an accountant is way easier than writing (books or knitting patterns or otherwise).

  244. Here you go, off on another adventure today, one of my fav big citties(like I’m so well traveled,NOT.). Have fun,buy yarn,knit socks,meet peolpe.See ya at home later,with tales to tell.Happy trails girlfriend.
    Luv dennyx0xxx0

  245. Heard about this on NPR this morning. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5577523
    Dictation/transcription/voice regonition software. They were talking about how it would be wonderful for doctors and lawyers, but I wonder how it would work for writers. While I don’t write for a living, I often get frustrated that sometimes I think faster than I type and so can’t always get all the thoughts into writing before they melt away.

  246. As someone who tries to be a writer while leaning on knitting, this post struck me to the core. Thank you for helping me feel “normal.”

  247. What a wonderful description of the travails of the writing life!
    One more quote for you (though I can’t remember where I heard it):
    “Nothing is difficult for the person who doesn’t have to do it!”
    Hang in there, you’ve survived this angst three times before, you can do it again.

  248. I have daydreamed about being A Writer and had friends who ARE writers say, “If you can do anything else, do.” They describe the process as you do: a job, often a chore. I don’t know exactly what kind of job it is, but I also don’t romanticize what you do. Which is why I’m all the more glad you do it. My kind thoughts are with you as you plow through this current hard part.
    From Ann Arbor, where I’m eagerly awaiting your visit this weekend with 3 fresh copies of your book for you to sign,

  249. As a writer myself, though of novels instead of knitting books, I understand one thousand percent where you’re coming from! And as a knitter, I agree, knitting is lovely and calming and soothing, whereas writing is nerve-wracking, nail-biting and hair-pulling. (sigh) But it’s in our blood and we have to do it! Hope your tour goes well…any chance you’re coming to New Hampshire?

  250. Great post. It’s what I needed today as I procrastinate, move files around, re-read and basically “prepare” to write.
    Writing is the second hardest part of my job, getting the reviews of what I write (ie will it be published) is the hardest.
    Good luck in the home stretch.

  251. Steph-
    Thanks for writing this – I feel EXACTLY the same way about writing… like i think to myself, someone, somewhere, sits down and instantly writes a book, and it’s good, and sells well – and meanwhile, I sit down to write, and spend 2 hours dramatizing four words (as in, “is ‘often’ too strong a word? Should I cut it?”.. go to sleep, wake up and go to work and think about writing all day long, and then… send it off somewhere and someone thinks its good.
    Wow – just knowing that someone else is sitting up late at night – what a blessing…
    Hope you’re well…

  252. It’s funny how the reverse is true… I had dinner with a friend over the weekend who is working on his PhD. He has written and published a book of poetry. What he wanted to know from me is, “What’s it like working in an office?!?” I thought that was hilarious.

  253. Found this cool quote today; it fits.
    The thing that makes you exceptional, if you are at all, is inevitably that
    which must also make you lonely. -Lorraine Hansberry, playwright and
    painter (1930-1965)

  254. Hmm, writing a book sounds about as easy as writing a thesis. I mean really, all I have to do is read a bit, think and bit, and then write. I’m copying that Dorothy Parker quote onto a post-it, since I’m so very close to the end, so thanks for that.

  255. Another quote that might ring true for you: A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. -Thomas Mann

  256. Hi!! I’ll cast another vote for Anne Lamotte. And, also, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg if you don’t know her. She lives in Santa Fe now.
    I,too, am a writer..one of those lazy people who has such an easy job–just like you…I just sit down…and open the vein and let it bleed on to the page every day..rain, shine..whether I feel like it or not..whether the moon is waxing or waning just right..whether the dogs are howling..or whether or not it’s a topic I am even interested in…….good luck on the tour..hope to see you in NM…Sandi

  257. How you do get youreslf inside my head and pour out a lot of what is there?
    Let me add something to just consider. With all that you have written and is not yet on the page, imagine the pain of being totaly unable to get it from the head onto the page. It may be five hundred words, four hundred and seventy some of which you will flush. but it is coming out. why do i say this? Becuse I am dysgraphic dyslexic and for forty years I was entirely unable to write more than two sentences, five if I was lucky, without a four hour wait period before I could write another two to five sentences. The computer keyboard unlocked my brain. Now I write and suck at it and bawl and delete, and understand precisely what you are talking about. And underneath it all, damn, I can get the words from my head onto the page.Yahooo.
    Any idiot who thinks that it is fun to write a book deserves the meltdown they provoke in the overwrought writer. A job is a job and being paid is the motivation that does not change.
    bless your heart, what ends up in your books is so good that I wish I could write as well as you complain about sucking at it.
    Meanwhile I wish to heck you were coming closer to Colorado than Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. What did we do to deserve this? don’t you like us?

  258. eep! how could I have missed you? I was just on Vacation in Chicago! Alas, I had to return home on the 22nd. So I probably would have missed you anyway…

  259. Stephanie,
    I love your meta-writing, analyzing your process: how and why, and why not, when, and under what pressures. I do this (only, in conversation) all the time. All your quotes were great ones, and I had run across only one of them before. As a middle school teacher of writing, I’m always in the market for good humanizing quotes that help kids understand that it doesn’t come easily even to great writers. Here’s one that I recently posted (though the source is not of my political persuasion, the sentiment reflects something universal):
    โ€œThe only way I know to become a good writer is to be a bad writer and keep on improving.โ€
    –Thomas Sowell
    So it is my hope that you will now find the next chunk of your book coming easier, since you thoroughly understand yourself now! :^) I also hope this because I look forward to reading that book (oops, no pressure!). Laid up today after foot surgery, I got myself prepared by getting two of your titles that I have not yet read, and when I finish on the internet, I will be headed straight for that pile!

  260. Hmm…possibly one of the most depressing and inspiring posts you’ve made! Went away and blogged on the same subject myself at once. Hope it’s ok to quote you?
    From another writer who isn’t writing….

  261. I wish I were driving right now.
    If I were driving right now I would be headed south on the freeway on my way down to see you on the south side of Chicago; but instead I’m at work…
    reading blogs..
    and wishing I were able to go meet you… and get your book… and see you sign it… and listen to you talk.
    Thankfully my knitting friends have promised to get me a signed book, but of course it won’t be the same.
    I hope you have a great visit to Chicago and perhaps I can find/catch/meet/enjoy you some other time.

  262. Somebody clever and apparently tortured said, “Writing is easy. You just stare at a blank page until drops of blood appear on your forehead.” Something like that. Just, for the love of God, don’t get that blood on the yarn!

  263. Stephanie, YES, it’s hard work, but you are GOOD at it! Your writing is a delight and it makes me laugh out loud. Particularly choice bits get read out loud to friends and acquaintances…if I read them all the good parts, I’d have to read the whole book.

  264. Stephanie,
    I read your blog a lot and thought I would de-lerk for this particular post. Thank you! I do not write, but your experince you shared above and the quotes from other writers are channeling my life right now. You (and your “friends”) are right on about the creative process. NOW WRITE ON!

  265. Rumor has it a certain Ontario Author was recently seen knitting at a sporting event in Halifax!! So, did she get any Fleese Artist while in town? hee hee. Hopefully one of our local shops will ask you to come here soon and talk to us all and sign our books! Have a great tour! Dawn

  266. Writing can be easy….You just have to wait until all of the words have gathered in your brain at the same time and your head is ready to explode unless you let them out. Why is that always in the middle of the night for me?

  267. Writing can be frustrating at times, especially blogging. At times, you can easily pump out like 5 articles at once and at other times you feel like there is no way you could right another word.

  268. Ditto Anne Lamott. Very funny. My favorite part is “Shitty First Drafts.”

  269. Whoever said writing is easy never sat with a pen and paper or a keyboard and really tried to write. If it isn’t there and ready to flow, there’s nothing easy about it.
    Knitting: you can be taught that, I was and am still learning new stuff every day.
    Writing: you’ve either got it or you don’t….

  270. I can’t imagine that you’ll read all of these almost 300 posts, but then again, you may be deep, deep, deep into the procrastination! I am currently reading The Zahir by Paulo Coelho and he has a great bit about the writing process — the procrastination, resentment, lack of control, and then the final surrender to the exhausting, depleting process. Thank you for your post, and for all those many beautiful words that you give your readers.

  271. Well, it’s not exactly easy, but The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron, does make it better. Good luck!

  272. Stephanie,
    IMHO, this is your best writing yet. Strange, but I write best when I’m coming from a place of angst too. Agonizing, isn’t it?
    Right now, I’m procrastinating on my writing/editing project by reading your blog. My deadline is Friday, this Friday, a most ungodly thing, and I’ll never make it….

  273. When I was a child, I wanted to be a writer. It sounded so romantic: just you and your words writing down your observations and blithely tripping down the street to the publisher who will gush over the masterpiece you have brought to him. When I found out how much work it involved, I started to look for something that was more lucrative and fell into the land of accounting. Occasionally the writer comes out and demands to be heard, usually when I’m going through fifty ways of stress (one such period generated 3 1/2 novels). But I don’t have the discipline to stick to writing as a job. I’ll stick to my numbers.
    So I appreciate how much work the writing is. You do a great job of putting your thoughts on paper. Keep working at it, hon.

  274. ah, stephanie. your collection of quotes, and your comments between, brought me to tears (especially on the topic of mother writers… i think it was oprah who said “you CAN have it all… just not at the same time”).
    thank you. very, very much.

  275. I’m terribly late to the party…but maybe it is kind of nice to know that:
    1. I’ve laughed out loud and hard to things you have written. The loud kind of barking laugh where you look around to see if anybody heard or check to make sure you didn’t snort anything out.
    2. My copy of your last book is getting a little dog-eared as it finds itself in the honored place of my knitting bag as my reference book.
    3. You have picked a great audience to write for as knitters are more patient, understanding and humorous than muggles. We have to be, look what we do as a hobby!

  276. I truly enjoyed this blog. Thanks for the insightful and humorous look at what it is like to be a writer. I am an aspiring writer and I am having an awful time getting started. This blog and others does give me hope.

  277. I just wanted to tell you that this post really meant a lot to me to read. I’m an aspiring novelist. I have an enormous 200,000 word novel that I spent something like four years writing, and I have been editing for the past two or three. I plug away at it every single day, but I think people are starting to doubt that it exists (or that I’m raelly working on it) because it still isn’t done. Sometimes it can be frightening — I think that I’ll be 90 years old in a nursing home, still trying to clean up the last problems and polish the language.
    And it’s hell. It makes me into such a harpy. People think writing is so romantic, but really it’s dragging parts of yourself out, kicking and screaming, that you never really wanted to see and looking at them under a microscope. It’s an ugly, grisly business. I wish I wasn’t drawn to it the way that I am.
    Anyway, it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  278. I work as a writer, and you’ve hit it all on the head (the part you bang against the desk when the words don’t come). I will save this post, and I thank you for it. Knitting is magnificently concrete, and productive, in the face of writing — which, before I knit, I actually referred to as “knitting with air.” People who don’t write can’t get it. My husband, also a writer, was once told at a cocktail party, “You’re a writer? I wish I had time to write.” Gee, and here I was wishing I had time to be a cardiologist.
    It Always Gets Done. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.

  279. You can do it!
    If it’s of any interest, speculative fiction writer Bruce Sterling mentions you as an example of how blogging can change someone’s life.
    You’ve come this far, and now another book is within your grasp…

  280. Wonderful! I loved reading this and knowing that it can be awful but results in books at the end of it. Lovely choice of quotations, too. And gosh, what gorgeous knitting!! Thanks so much for sharing this. The part about mother-and-wife hit home especially; I think for men it is easier to shut off and do their thing. Not that this makes me want to be like them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  281. I’m a retired librarian and my friends and family are waiting for a book. Are they nuts? If you read anything at all worthwhile you have to appreciate that sweat and tears played a huge part in its production. Writing a book is a dream that will probably never be fulfilled. I barely have the discipline to maintain my blog. Thanks for your entertaining insights into the world of authorship.

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