Wednesday, July 11, 2007


That was a shibboleth--if there are any crazy knitters among you, you will know I'm talking UnFinished Objects.

One shawl
One bunny
One pig
Three baby blankets, not counting the one that's not stalled
One set of slippers, felted, need bottoms
One set of slippers, knit but not felted
One baby sweater, needs a fastener
One pair mittens
One not easily described fishing-line project
One extremely large knit quilt--most squares done, not assembled, probably needs to be rethought from the beginning
One novel, quite embryonic

What almost all of these have in common is that their intended ultimate recipients are in the dark about my intent that they ultimately receive them. Knitting, like writing, is a private effort done for public display, but that display can be deferred indefinitely.

All art needs an audience. And the interaction with audience begins before the audience knows about it, while the art is still the artist's.

I respond to audience in not-always-so-helpful ways.

I feel overexposed most of the time. I have a mostly-functional public persona I can dust off when the occasion demands, but currently I have a hard time with people in the "acquaintance" range. In my life this is populated by an overlapping group of neighbors, customers, fellow-congregants, business contacts, and (now that it's summertime) pool-goers. It's a small world in this big city: when I was waiting in the chiropractor's office yesterday, having chauffeured A. there when her headache made it difficult for her to drive herself, I listened as the receptionist made an appointment-reminder call to the reporter who recently interviewed me about summer reading.

Sometimes it feels cozy. Just as often, it feels like too much coming at me. And sometimes, it just plain weirds me out. My therapist, Dr. L., has a bit part in a memoir whose author did an event at the store a year ago. Dr. L. appears as friend, not therapist. And very briefly. Thank goodness. From this instructive experience I learned that I am not constitutionally capable of publishing a memoir.

But isn't that what I'm doing here, in serial form? Well, no. Blogging gives the illusion of skipping the acquaintance stage. After all, you know way more about me than my acquaintances do. And yet, you don't. I know that regular readers of this space are quite able to comment for a good long time without knowing what it is that I sell in that store of mine. And I think those of you who don't know me outside of the blog will not know whether I have siblings, or the circumstances of my meeting A. (I did post on that, but took it down mighty fast), or what I studied in graduate school. The information is there in the posts, of course--I did one post explicitly *as* a memoir, and it rounds up a lot of that stuff--but what I actual reveal day to day stays pretty close to my own head and my emotional state.

What I am offering you is my writing voice, and some backstory here and there, generally of the sort that no longer has repercussions, some anecdotes and some words that I hope you will enjoy, the report on the state of my head. Because that is how well I know you. Collectively, you. You, my audience.

If I were going to knit you a sweater, I would need to know a lot more about you.

If I were going to write you a novel, I could get away with knowing a lot less.


Julia said...

I am not even going to list my UFOs (none of them knitted)-- too depressing. That is one of the reasons I am looking forward to taking a break from work for the rest of the summer-- maybe I can catch up on some of them.

S. said...

Having UFO's around doesn't depress me--they're almost comforting. They're still mine, still in process, not out in the world yet. There's always a shock to seeing your thing that you made out functioning in the world independently of know what I mean.

I find I can't get them done 'til I know where they're going. Sometimes I need to know both where they're going and what the next project is before I can let go.

niobe said...

I have a mostly-functional public persona I can dust off when the occasion demands, but currently I have a hard time with people in the "acquaintance" range.

Story of my life. Well, minus the "mostly-functional" part. And the "currently" part.

Magpie said...

So interesting. I wonder from time to time, if I met you, or some of the other bloggy people I "know", whether we'd get along or not.

Jenny Davidson said...

Nice use of the word "shibboleth" BTW!

S. said...

Magpie: You'd probably hate those other people, but I'm sure you'd like me.

Jenny, why thank you. I think Niobe was talking about the word on her blog recently, so it's a true meme, rather than a chain-letter meme.

The Goldfish said...

I read this when you posted it but was too dopey to comment. But this was a excellent post. Much empathy on the UFOs; I find them very comforting, actually. I have a specific cupboard (actually, it's more a wardrobe) for them and there's a lot of love in that space. And there aren't many things that never get done.

As for blogging, I feel we write about what is important to us and that strikes me as a fairly important part of who we are, even if it is not the sum total. It is an acquaintance, sometimes friendship, on our own individual terms. Which is something I enjoy a lot.

S. said...

Gosh, Goldfish, you're making me blush.

(I loved your bat, btw, but didn't want to just repeat what everyone else said about it.)