Friday, December 17, 2010

Stringing Beads

I once saw a quote about writing that compared it to stringing beads. It was a nice quote - something along the lines of fragments being strung together to form a sequence of richness. That’s deep, I thought at the time.

Since then, I’ve wondered what kind of string I’m making with my collection of beads - words sometimes come easily, but sometimes they don’t. Then they feel awkward or chunky or not quite right. When I look back at what I’ve strung together it looks like this:
It’s the work of a babe in writer’s land. A simple string of large chunky words, just so the beholder won’t miss the point and the writer won’t get lost on her journey. It’s a learning experience, like a toddler with chubby fingers working hard to string a bead on a lace, I bumble around with fat words and shapeless ideas.

But eventually even the toddler grows more skillful, her fingers gaining dexterity, her sense of space and order and color giving her strings of beads some artistic merit. Eventually, even the beginning writer grows more accomplished, stringing together more carefully selected words, forming her ideas into a story with order and color and depth.

I'm somewhere past the toddler stage of writing, but like an artist who isn't sure which bead goes where, I string my words together and take them apart again, endlessly, critically, looking at the "necklace" they create. Happiness is finding a well-strung run of words, and paragraphs, and scenes.

I look forward to the day when I'll have the finished necklace, the beads, each of them carefully selected and placed, following each other on the string, their colors and forms, their interesting shapes, their rise and fall, creating a complete work.

Until then, I'm still sorting through the bin of beads.


  1. Lovely analogy Susan. Claire, d'you have any photos of your own jewellery to share?
    Hmm, now how about writing and knitting? I like to knit cables, if that means anything [g]

  2. Lol Deniz! You know, that's the first thing I thought when I read Susan's excellent post- I thought, it didn't take me long to progress from basic jewellery to extremely complex stuff, but it sure took a huge amount of intensive practice.

    And I thought the analogy was just perfect. I might dig around and see what I can find ;)

  3. Susan, great post! My string looks like a kid's macaroni necklace in far too many places, I'm afraid. :-P

  4. Deniz, I know nothing about knitting - except that it can unravel, and knitters sometimes drop stitches, but a beautifully knitted item is a work of art. There's a good writing analogy in that, I think.

  5. Rachel, macaroni? LOL! I don't believe it. Not for an instant. :)

  6. I can't be bothered photographing anything new, so I'll be lazy and point you to my old jewellery blog, which I kind of abandoned wholesale a couple of years back when I started running out of free time :P

  7. There's a rhythm to knitting that I enjoy, especially if you're working on something with a pattern that repeats, and you've memorised it, and your fingers fly...
    Hmm, sort of like when you know your characters so well they write the scene for you.