Friday, October 4, 2013

When is it time to stop?

One of my favorite literary genres is the genre “Short Story”. I’m not an expert on them, but I did manage to arrive at a rather good grade with this topic in my final university exams. And I have tried to catch new ones every once in a while since then.
One of my favorite short story writers, though really one among several, is Alice Munro. Still without a Nobel Prize, though mentioned frequently amongst those who really ‘should’ get it some time, but for this awkward genre, only short works, can she not write a proper novel? I don’t care whether she has written a novel or not. But I do care that she has stated publically that she would probably not publish another book. I only heard about this on the radio a few weeks ago, it must have happened some time in April. At first I was upset. Then they talked about her age, and I fully realized what I should have been aware of anyway – Alice Munro is an old woman, almost the same age as my grandmother when she passed away. My being upset turned into admiration – to know for oneself the right time to stop, and to announce that publically, must be one of the hardest decisions that a person can be faced with.
In sports, however, frequently the ones who have announced their retirement decide to attempt a comeback, not necessarily for the benefit of their reputation. If Michael Schumacher had stuck to his decision, instead of attempting a comeback, his fame would have been more lasting than it is now, after he came back, and did not manage to be as successful as he had been when he retired. And this is true for many other famous names.
So knowing when it is the right moment to stop is a personal, difficult and very delicate decision. This holds for personal relationships – is this the right time to break up, or should it have happened long ago already? – and jobs as well. Writing and publishing might qualify amongst both of these, perhaps. I don’t own all of Alice Munro’s books, so I can still go ahead and buy a few others; even though they will not be newly published, they will still be new to me. And perhaps she might still write one or the other, who knows. But she is not planning on going through the entire process of publishing another book.
When I heard about her announcement, though, I also hoped that I would know for myself when is the right time to stop with something. I wondered whether I would be ready to see it, and to act accordingly. And I think that point has come today.
I spent several hours yesterday night and this morning trying to come up with a new design for a next quilt in the series “Play of Lines”. There is deadline coming up end of November, for which I still could have finished something, trying to get into an exhibition that I have been juried out of every single time that I tried to get in. But I had never tried to enter one of the Play of Lines, which some people I talked to have thought stupid. So I had figured if I gave it one more try, and with a Play of Lines, perhaps I would get in this time...
Which is why I started working on this design yesterday. Again, based on a line drawing by my son, that I had edited intensively.

My son's drawing, and a tracing,
which served as the starting point for my design work.

One design I had come up with earlier,
which I used as the starting point yesterday.

And again working through various stages of altering the course and the arrangements of the lines.

The transparencey foil in front is stage no. 11...

And yet, before I started enlarging the design, I looked at it, and it didn’t feel right. A bit of "been there, done that."
So I talked to my husband, showed him what I had come up with. And he put into words what I had been feeling already, but had not yet had the courage to tell myself: “For heaven’s sake, he is eight years old. And we have seen enought of these. You have done other stuff that is completely different. Why do you want to return to these -- ?” 
It’s difficult to admit, but here it is: as much as I had enjoyed working from the inspiration of my son’s drawings, and as much as they have given me, as important as they have been for my personal development as a quilter, indeed, it is time to move on. This must not necessarily mean that this series is entirely closed, over and done with. But if I should indeed try to work on another quilt that fits into the series because of its linear character, it would have to come from a different inspiration.
Of course, that gives rise to the next question. where do I go from here? Uuuugh, scary.

But who knows. There are a lot of new directions coming up behind a corner.

1 comment:

  1. It is a wise person who knows when they have come to the end of a series. Good luck with your next venture.