Vikki is the author of Quilting by Improvisation for Dragon Threads. She is our guest blogger for the week while I go on vacation to a lovely lake in New Hampshire!
She has just self-published an inspirational book which is available this month on her website. Here is her story about writing and publishing:
The Improbable Quilter
Twenty-five years ago, I never would have dreamed of becoming a quilt teacher. In fact I hated sewing. I was a sewing disaster in 7th grade Home Economics. Maybe it's because I couldn't follow the precise rules. Or perhaps the pink floral "housecoat" I had to make in class didn't interest me as a twelve-year-old preteen. Either way, I thought sewing wasn't for me. The only reason I started to quilt was because of my sister's unrelenting insistence, coaxing me into attending a beginning quilt class with her. The rest is history. I became enamored with the wonderful art of quilting. I found out sewing can be fun. One thing led to another and my career snowballed. And so did life's lessons.
I didn't come into quilting until my mid-forties and quilting didn't become my career and mission until I was fifty. In my younger years, I painted with oils and watercolor, experimented in sculpture and played with all craft mediums. I was self-taught in all the art forms. I gained much knowledge about art…and wisdom about life…along the way. This was especially true with quilting.
Shortly after I finished writing Quilting By Improvisation (Dragon Threads, 2006), the inspiration to write another book came to me. However, this book would be different. Rather than writing about technical construction techniques in quilting, the thought of tackling the emotional, almost spiritual issues involved in artwork popped into mind. While excited about the concept for the new book, I wasn't ready for the challenge of writing another manuscript so soon after Quilting By Improvisation. So I put it off "for awhile". Well, "awhile" turned into five years. It's amazing how fast those years fly by, isn't it? During that time, I often thought about beginning my new book, but always dismissed the impulse. My excuse? Always too busy to take the time. Then in July 2011, during a Wyoming workshop, one of my students strongly urged me to get started on my book. The little voice inside me agreed. It was time to get motivated and write.
After the workshop, my hostess and friend, Kathy Lichtendahl and her husband, Ken, invited Denny (my husband) and me to stay with them on her remote llama ranch for a few days to relax. To this day, I don't think Kathy and Ken realize how lucky they were not to be saddled with permanent houseguests. We lodged in their bunkhouse and loved every moment. It was pure bliss and totally silent except for the wind. No TV, phone or distractions. I was completely relaxed. For the next three days I perched myself on a chair on the porch and wrote non-stop…the words pouring out of me. Thus began my new book. I already knew the title…Nurture Your Creative Spirit.
Later in the fall, one of my teaching engagements was on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Before I needed to report to the scheduled workshops, we rented a condo on Molokai for 8 days. My sole purpose: to write my book. And write I did, sitting on the lanai from morning to night, with the ocean as my backdrop.
Then, again in North Carolina during our family vacation with my sisters and their families, I stayed sequestered at the oceanfront beach house, writing on the veranda while the others played, shopped or walked along the seashore. With all these beautiful settings for inspiration, the words just kept flowing.
I reached deep within my heart and soul to write this book. Based on my lectures, I intended Nurture Your Creative Spirit to be a personal, spiritual view of the art of creating. I wanted it to be a motivational book, meant to encourage and inspire others on their creative journey.
I write about the most important traits of creativity: determination, persistence, being passionate about one's work, having faith in yourself, courage and flexibility to name a few. I reveal my experiences and the hard lessons learned from making my quilts, as well as the stories and symbolism behind them. I relate my thoughts regarding the artistic process and staying in balance in life and art. I discuss creativity and inspirations. Using my quilts as examples, I show how emotions affect my work. I discuss the difference between critique and criticism, the importance of having a good support system and the art of gratitude. Once the book began to take shape, the subtitle became obvious: The Wisdom and Insights Learned From the Art of Quilting. Though told from my viewpoint as a quilter, the book is relevant to artists in all mediums.
Once I finished writing the manuscript and set the actual printing process gears in motion, reality set in. And reality can be scary. Typing your thoughts and words on paper is just the beginning. Next comes the endless, tedious rounds of editing, corrections and changes…first for the raw manuscript, then with the graphic designer as he or she flows the text into pages and adds the images and captions. I was fortunate to find an excellent (and very patient) graphic designer, Merry Yee Clark, who enjoyed working on Nurture Your Creative Spirit. Merry put her heart into the book as well as her expertise. Then,I found a great printing company near our home. Their team guided me through the steps and made the printing experience painless.
Publishing your own book is not for the faint-hearted. Though I strongly believe I was called to produce this book and share my knowledge, the large financial outlay and negative "what ifs" are always in the back of my mind. It does take faith and constant self-encouragement to keep moving forward. Even though the book is almost ready to debut, I still ask myself, "What on earth am I doing!" As I said, keep the faith and believe…..
Without doubt, writing this book allowed me to increase my creative and spiritual self-awareness. It’s my hope Nurture Your Creative Spirit will help you in your journey to gain wisdom, understanding and enlightenment into your own creativity and spirit.
With warm wishes,
COMMENT BELOW if you would like to win a copy of this book. Winner will be selected July 16.