Which better soothes the savage beast, a trusted benzodiazepine or wool work? I choose both, one for night and one by day. I get a good eight hours. And as my pumpkin stocking comes along, so do I.
But I can’t limit myself to a sock, so I’m starting on a scarf of fine merino – its color defies description — that will be worked in a sprigged geometric I haven’t attempted before.
Different. And more difficult. One thing about knitting is that it’s humbling; it’s actually the hardest thing I’ve ever done, aside from writing, and I’m barely getting closer to the cable stitch that was my new year’s resolution for 2013. To cable, to make those gorgeous chunky fisherman twists, you need to use a special needle. Although I’ve heard a chopstick will do. But you really need, also, a brain that can move through the pattern’s complexities.
I wonder if my brain, trained up for the first time as a novice in this demanding, ancient craft, is approaching the actual work of my life differently. I’m currently ping ponging between two projects, neither of which I can divulge in detail at the risk of angering the novel gods.
But doing historical research, if you write about history, is another kind of soothing, even a self massage of a sort. It’s that good. You take your era, dive in and float with its current, sending your mind wandering to either shore and how your characters might relate to that time. The grittier, the more textured, the more exciting it is to submerge yourself through books and documents that will help you tell your story.
I will say this, that one book idea has to do with the American Revolutionary War – not in Boston, not in Philadelphia, but in New York City, which the Brits held for seven years while skirmishing on the outskirts of town with the Patriots. The high drama of the episode informs the book I am planning.
“Sleep knits up the ravelled sleeve of care,” says Lady Macbeth. And so does research.