For as long as I can recall, my mother has been a quilter. She tucked us in to sleep under beautiful, hand-made quilts, and when our children were born, my sister and I tucked our children in to sleep under crib-sized quilts custom-designed for the sweetest babies in the world. Nothing compares to my mother’s quilts.
Let me say right now that I am not a quilter. I never have been and likely never will be. The thought of fabric stores and scissors and scraps of fabric and needles and thread, to say nothing of agonizing over which pieces will look not just good together, but best together…
It’s just not me.
My mother, however, takes profound care in making each and every one of her quilts, considering colors and patterns and placements till I am dizzy with the smell of new fabrics. Though I grow weary of describing varying patterns of white-on-white, on she plots until she has everything laid out just so. She works from miles away on my children’s quilts, sometimes calling midday to ask which type of stitch I think will look best when it comes time to quilt the pieces she has so meticulously assembled.
“Mom,” I usually answer, “you know what will work best.”
Sometimes, I admit, the entire process seems a bit more tedious than necessary. Just make the quilt. It will be gorgeous. Even if I’m not sure about a decision, like the “red, brick-patterned” fabric she described over the phone, I know that she’ll end with a masterpiece. (The quilt containing said red fabric is probably my favorite of all).
I am almost finished with the first draft of my second novel, a dual point-of-view fantasy, and I have thought often of my mother and her quilts. Each chapter is like a piece of fabric, carefully chosen, precisely cut, and soon… delicately placed within the whole. I do not know exactly how I will arrange my chapters, but must lay them all out, as my mother does her fabric, and see how everything lies. I must have faith in my little chapters – faith that they will come together, each one pleasing in its own right, and together something more than each would be alone. And yes, I call or email my sister with random, seemingly trivial questions like, “Should so-and-so have a tattoo?”
Perhaps, though I am not a quilter, I have inherited a portion of my mother’s craft.
Piecing together this second novel isn’t the easiest task I could have set before myself, but I hope by miracle or might to create a beautiful piece of art as comfortable to my readers as my mother’s hand-made quilts.
I am the quilter’s daughter, after all.