Pins and needles
When it comes to creativity, a change is as good as a rest.
Welcome to So Relatable, a bi-weekly newsletter featuring conversations about the creative process, updates on my writing projects, suggestions for nourishing yourself, and a few great links to keep you inspired. Looking for a more formal introduction? Here you go!
A few years ago my dear friend Kevina, who runs Home + Hoop, an inspiring Instagram account devoted to embroidery and other crafts, alerted me to a new creative challenge—Stitch-a-Day.
The rules are simple. Each day, you embroider something small yet meaningful onto a single piece of fabric, which will eventually yield a beautifully chaotic, thread-filled journal of your year. Kevina completed the challenge in 2018 and I’d long admired her hoop, its riot of colors and memories made of thread. When she told me she was going to do it again for 2022, I had no choice but to join her.
The timing was perfect, and not just because it was the first day of the year. I hadn’t written since December 20th, when I finished the most recent draft of my novel, and I needed a distraction while I waited for feedback from my readers. My brain wasn’t ready to write something new, but my hands were happy to pick up the slack. As one of my favorite MFA professors used to say, “A change is as good as a rest.”
So far, the hardest part of this challenge (beside thinking of a different image to represent each day—there are only so many ways to illustrate “went to work”) is that I’m not particularly good at embroidery. Already, my designs have been sub-par at best. The yellow boat to commemorate our trip to Sharks Tooth Island? Strong banana vibes. The Warrior Two to signal the kickoff of Adriene’s 30-Day Yoga Journey? Looks more like a surfer. The nun for when I finished reading Lauren Groff’s Matrix? Borderline profane.
But this, Kevina assures me, is the point of Stitch-a-Day. You don’t have to create a masterpiece. Your thread can snag and your stitches can run crooked. Your hoop can be crowded, images awkwardly bunched together. Your boats can look like bananas, your nuns can resemble penguins. It’s not about perfection, but about crafting a snapshot of life which, it turns out, also isn’t perfect. Imagine that!
I’m only 23 days into this challenge, but I can already tell I’ll make it to 365. When I stitch, I’m not trying to perfect my craft or draft a bestseller. I’m merely taking a few minutes to reflect on my day, thread my needle, and stitch a little story, just for me. 🪡
Snack of the Week
An ice storm struck Wilmington Friday night, a rare occurrence for a beach town on the North Carolina coast. The entire city shuttered itself Friday morning in anticipation, and by evening sleet was raining down. Instead of buying multiple bottles of wine (thanks, Dry January) I prepped by making a big pot of vegan chili. The star of the night, however, was the cornbread, which I promptly doused in Red Clay Hot Honey, per Abigail’s excellent recommendation. Cold night, hot honey—honestly, I didn’t even miss the wine.
On Writing (with a Day Job), Catapult. “The time you have to actually sit down and write shrinks, but writing still billows through everything. It becomes a twin life, something hovering within your daylight existence.” A big YES to every single word of this. 💖💕💗
How to Succeed at Failure, The Atlantic. “One of the reasons failure can be so crushing is that we set goals of success, instead of improvement and learning. Chasing success might seem like the right path, but it’s a mistake—and an especially easy one to make in a world obsessed with résumés.” As a Type-A goal-setting list-maker with lofty artistic ambitions, this was a great read. ⭐️
Why it’s Sometimes Harder to Get a Job You’re ‘Overqualified’ For, Fast Company. “My ambition is to be well-rested, well-read, and well-written, to have healthy relationships and an active intellectual life.” I really liked this take on moving down the corporate ladder. Also, fun fact: the author of this piece is an extremely talented member of my writing group! 📉
Why Holding a Grudge Is So Satisfying, New York Times*. “Grudges work best in response to small and singular harms and annoyances: the neighbor who parked in front of your driveway, the cashier who charged you for a drink you never ordered. Did someone truly, existentially wrong you? Don’t waste your time growing a grudge—save it for something pettier.” Suddenly I want more grudges! 🐜
The most clicked link last time: apparently, money talks. 💸
*NYT gift link—no subscription needed, and clicking won’t count toward your free articles!
Thank you to Michael B., Nathan J., Kelton W., Julia W., and Julia B. for your generous support! What a way to start the year!
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