Saturday, February 11, 2006

Sweating the Small Stitches

Yesterday, I copied my latest screenplay to send to my agent and as I was preparing to mail it, I noticed a word, ONE WORD on ONE PAGE, that I had meant to change. I made the correction, took the screenplay apart, and inserted the new page only to realize that the inkjet page looked much different from the copied pages. Argh. I took the page to the copy machine just so it would look like the other pages.

This brings me to the blanket in the picture. Yeah, I'll tie it all together. Be patient.

I finished this blanket a few weeks ago. I meticulously made sure every stitch was straight, every hem was even, and every thread perfectly matched the fabric. Then I carefully packed it in a box and mailed it to a little old lady in Arkansas who machine quilts. She came highly recommended by a friend and I was very impressed with her intricate scrollwork. After a long telephone chat with her about everything from her new marriage and her recently deceased mother to her lazy neighbors who live off welfare, I was confident that this industrious lady would do a good job on my quilt.

The blanket arrived in the mail the other day, quilted and bound, with a sweet note from this lady praising my work. She wasn't paid to bind the quilt but she did it out of the goodness of her heart because she said it was so pretty, she simply couldn't send it back unfinished. It was very thoughtful of her.

As a whole, it looks awesome. Much better than the picture, in fact. Then I examined it. While her scrollwork is lovely, her stitches are not so even and her straight seams are not at all straight. The thread bunches up a little, the corners are crooked and the binding doesn't lay correctly.

For several days now, I've pondered over whether to rip the binding out and redo it. It would only take a couple of hours and it might give me some peace of mind. But once I did that, I might decide to rip out some of the other seams that look kind of wanky. Where would it end?

As I look at the thing draped over the back of my couch, I remember our conversation and can almost hear her dear little voice saying "That lady in Texas worked so hard on this. Why don't I just bind it for her..."

I think I'll leave it like it is.

You know, my screenplays are never really finished either. I could correct, improve, substitute and redo every line of every scene and still think something was not quite right. That's the Monk in me, I suppose. But, I think at some point, you just have to just stop writing, step back, and look at the project as a whole.

Meanwhile, I'm packing up another blanket to send my quilting lady.

1 comment:

deepstructure said...

in the end, isn't everything an unfinished work? our works are just snapshots, pieces of inspiration and perspiration frozen in time. it represents where we are - and if we live with a script long enough it will have to change to stay current with us, until it gets committed to frame and even then only exists in that form until it gets re-edited.

i wrote a screenplay for a short film back in '92. then i finally filmed it in '99. then in '04 i re-edited it (pared it down from 18 mins to 12 and made it slightly less linear). at each stage it took a different shape, because i was a different person. since the time between changes was large, the changes reflected that, but i think this goes on in all of us from moment to moment. this moment's perfection is another's flaw.