Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Easing life over the seams

Today, as well as the usual chores – cooking, cleaning, watering the veggies etc, I have been doing two particular things. 

The main task of the day has been to read through the 2nd of the three novels currently with my publisher, Crossway, to prepare a ‘glossary of terms’ for the copy-editor to add in at the end.  This is necessary because the novel is set in medieval England, so some of the words in it – glebe, extern, villein, frater, reredorter for example – are not in everyday use and are likely to be unfamiliar, especially in the US where it will be published.

A long time passes between submitting a manuscript and getting it to the copy-editing stage, and several more months will pass before the time comes for it to be published.  This book, called The Hour Before Dawn, will be out in January 2012 and is part of The Hawk and the Dove series.

[The Hour Before Dawn is the one with your dedication in, Jeannie :0) ]

The second chunky task of the day was to alter three petticoats.  I was slightly changing the necks because they are a bit high.  I don’t know why but I have a particular aversion to anything tight round my throat – I can’t bear cap strings and bonnet-strings at all.  The dresses I’ve had made for me I totally love in every respect except that when the high necks pull against my throat it triggers this aversion.  So I’ve slightly enlarged the necks.  And now the petticoats show a little sometimes, so I’ve altered those too.  I am not an enthusiast for visible underwear!

The new hem to the neck passes across the shoulder seam of course, so in sewing there comes a bulky bit where the needle has to stitch through that seam twice folded as the hem crosses it, if you can imagine what I mean.   What I find is that if I am sewing fast as I cross that lumpy bit, the machine just goes mental, running on the spot and convinced it can’t do it and then seizing up completely.  To get past the hiccup it’s necessary to be sewing slow.  As a bomb disposal expert once said: “Walk towards the problem slowly” – a good maxim for anybody’s crises!

Sewing slowly I can ease the seam along, and sew the hem with no difficulty at all.

Sewing, like all manual tasks, is an opportunity for thoughts to germinate.  The Hour Before Dawn is part of a trilogy that looks at people passing through transition, struggling to understand themselves and each other and assimilate change.  Though it is set in a medieval monastery, it explores many of the life issues and family problems that modern people in the everyday world experience – forgiveness, trying to see the other person’s point of view, struggling to remain faithful to our calling, discovering what that calling might be – sometimes slowly and painfully.

It occurred to me as I was sewing and thinking about the characters in my story getting to grips with the adversities life had thrown at them, that helping each other through the traumas and difficulties which every now and then are part of ordinary life for all of us, is quite similar to easing that hem through the machine as it passes over the shoulder seam.  Life goes along smoothly for a while, and then it hits a lump.  When it does, if you go at it with all guns blazing you just bring the whole thing to a grinding halt, seize up completely.  But if you ease it along slowly and gently, mindful and careful, not rushing, going slow, you get past it ok, and come through to the other side, and things smooth out again.

That’s what I thought.

And I apologise, my friends, if it sounds like a trite diary column from a women’s magazine in the 1930s….


Anonymous said...

It sounds like someone has been given insight into a bit more of her life.

Like you, I use sewing as a way to think through Scripture passages and to just be still and allow Our Lord to show me where I have gone wrong.

Sometimes, my mind is just empty, safe for the task as hand.

How wonderful that you have had a quiet time with your machine :-)

Mrs. M.

Anonymous said...

...big, big smile. can hardly wait for the next book. i can't begin to say how happy i am to have found you again - and be able to not only read more of your books, but your posts too. you say things i need to hear. thank you.

Bean said...

Love it!! Not trite at all.


Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Jynene, hi Bean, hi Maria - yes, my sewing machine is *way* more spiritual than I am! :0D

BLD in MT said...

I too use my sewing time to ruminate on thoughts that have been kicking around in my head. I very much like your seam analogy. It is quite true.

seekingmyLord said...

I wanted you to know that I am in currently the middle of The Hawk and the Dove Trilogy and have been enjoying it very much.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Beth! The other thing that is REALLY good for thinking is gardening. I had a whole novel grow out of gardening. Oddly, ironing inspires only mean and savage thoughts in me. Why?

Hi seekingmyLord! I'm so glad you're liking The Hawk & the Dove! Book 4 is out in July. Come back and tell us what you thought of the trilogy when you're done!

Ganeida said...

Crisis put me in bed. I sleep a lot. lol Another form of escapism. I think I've been in hot water too many times & now my tea bag's all used up. lol

I am honoured & charmed & chuffed & smirky & my children are horrified because they don't think I need encouraging in strangeness. I shall want to go into every bookstore & take a copy to the front desk open it & say, "See that; that's me, that is! but I won't because it's more fun to have a secret smile & keep the secret. I shall temporarily be more famous than my Star ~ an achievement that can in no way be over~rated. Honestly, Pen, I am delighted & truly honoured. Thank you. ♥

Pen Wilcock said...


Linda said...

I think I read about prayer in your new book. I prayed for a friend on facebook and he got a job today, thank you for the prayer encouragement. He was really driving himself crazy lol. Well it seemed like it.

Trish said...

Not at all trite, my friend!
I think it's a wonderful and wise observation.
Far better to 'hasten slowly' rather than over-react and get jammed!
My hubby and I almost rushed into something this week, that wasn't right for us just yet.
Putting the brakes on helped to clear our minds too!

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) Hi Linda, hi Trish! Good to hear from you xx

Linda said...

I had another answered prayer today I was worried about my tooth, it has been upsetting me SO much for a year or more. I was stressing about having it out, what to do. It came out during eating pizza, nearly all out, and my dentist was on call, not another dentist. I didn't want to talk to his other staff. It was so amazing. I also have/had an appointment on Monday anyway scheduled to talk about it, so by Monday night everything will be fine. Just like the story you said about a health issue once Ember. I was claiming that lol.

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) Hi Linda - that's good to hear! x

paula said...

Dear Pen,

Now that "Blogger" has allowed me to send you actual messages (rather than Light only), I wanted to mention something. Were you aware that the back of your sofa along your shoulders resembles a yoke?

You wear it best when you worry least, dear one. :)

Yours in the Light, Paula

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) That's fab, Paula! Thank you x