Picture, say, a scarlet ibis alighting on your dining room table. The flabbergasted wonderment you’d feel is roughly akin to my reaction when an email from Jared Flood appeared in my inbox one utterly normal November day. My first thought was this: That’s it. The Nigerian spammers have found my weakness. I’d better let Brooklyn Tweed know their corporate email has been hacked. Then I opened it anyway. Jared wrote that he was seeking a house writer for Brooklyn Tweed, someone to help with all the different sorts of copy he needs to generate and doesn’t have time to write himself because he is rather busy designing and knitting and photographing gorgeous garments and also making yarn and running a fully fledged business. He thought of me. (!) He also wondered if I’d like to write a longer piece for the BT Winter collection, a knitter’s reflection on winter, in any form I wished to give it. I quickly reviewed the rules for dating, such as I remember them from before I met my husband half a lifetime ago. I waited what I hoped was a seemly 45 minutes before I wrote back YES. I schooled myself to avoid exclamation points.
I’m an editor by trade. Writing is the backbone of my craft and I often do a deal of it for my authors. When I worked on children’s books in New York there was often a gifted illustrator who needed help to shape a cohesive story or a middle-grade fantasy novelist who needed coaxing beyond formulaic plots and stock characters. Lloyd Alexander once accepted my suggestion for a line of repartee, so I was always going to die happy. In my current work, my writers are teachers in the traces and their energies are best spent on the children in their charge, so I polish and enhance their reflections or simply interview them and draft the articles myself. Editors don’t take credit, though. You might see them thanked by the author in a note, but you won’t find their names in the fine print alongside the jacket designer or the photographer who captured the author’s image for the back flap. And I’m very comfortable working offstage.
But I’m trying to push myself a little harder, to keep growing and seeking new possibilities. I don’t want to plough myself under intellectually as I accept the physical and emotional work of motherhood. And human beings need to reach for what might be beyond their grasp in order to learn and grow. So I said yes to Brooklyn Tweed, yes to being a writer with her name on her work. And today you can read a little essay called “Winter Words” in the middle of the new lookbook. I promise I am not at all offended if you huff right past it, slavering for the luscious cables and textured stitches and coastal scenery in the fashion story called Shingle & Copse. I’d do the same. A new Brooklyn Tweed collection is like a land rush. But maybe you’ll page back and read it later on.
Of course, with the ibis on your dining table, after the shock and amazement pass, practical thoughts are going to creep in. What do you do with it now that it’s here? What if it won’t just fly back out the window? What if it voids its capacious bowels all over the important tax documents and your great-grandmother’s linens? Should you feed it? It’s a queer, naked feeling, knowing your words are out standing together under the scrutiny of many thousands of eyes. Let me know what you think of them. Maybe you’ll feel like writing your own origin story. Leave a link in the comments if you do, because stories are good food for humans. They’re how we make and share meaning from the raw stuff of the world. And being a writer is connective — strands of words knit us together across great spans of the globe. A pencil and a knitting needle are nearly the same tool. Cheers, you writers and you knitters, you people of the sticks.
Sarah, how utterly fantastic – in the literal sense as well as its more pedestrian usage.
I would not have been able to resist at least a sprinkle of redundant punctuation if it were me.
I’ve been reading you for a long while and have always admired your style; it’s very satisfying to be validated by Jared.
Sarah, it was lovely! I had been eagerly awaiting the lookbook today so began thumbing through it before getting out of bed this morning. I was delighted to see your name and actually had to stop the salivating at pictures long enough to read it. Thank you so much, and best of adventures for you!
Congratulations on both the new job, and the wonderful writing!
You are a wonderful writer, and I’m so proud of you! What an awesome recognition. Xoxox
Breathtaking! I found your blog through the look book essay. I too am an editor pushing myself to write more. Reading lovely prose is such an inspiration.
I have just finished reading your essay in the latest installment of knitting wonders from Brooklyn Tweed and found it to be lovely. I am working on storytelling as part of my role at work and this article really resonated with that process.
I hope to read more of your efforts in the days, months and years to come.
Knista!!! You did it!!!! YYYEEEEAAAHHHHHHHH!!!! That’s what I think of your writing… pure YYYYYEEEEEAAAHHHHH!!!! Glad you are a writer and I’m not since English is my second language and such… (yes… I”m using that excuse) and lord knows the writer in you is having a mini heart attack at all the exclamation points and extra letters. Next outing drinks/tea on me to celebrate!
P.S. You.are.my.hero. 😉
P.S.S: When does tutoring for the English SAT start for Mateo?
I nearly didn’t read past the ibis, such is my disregard for those birds. (NO! don’t feed it!!) But I’m glad I did read on. Another chapter opens, and I’m thrilled to hear it. I have spent the past year moonlighting with a local / family history magazine and the latest issue has 3 book reviews penned by me. Certainly it is a queer feeling, the scrutiny! The heart palpitations when viewing your own work ‘out there’ for general consumption. What if I was wrong when I said it was imperative that everyone (really! everyone!) read this book?? Will they write angry emails in their droves? (So far, silence from the throngs reading my reviews just over 3/4 of the way through the magazine – phew.) Anyway, I can see from previous comments that the reception of your essay has been wonderful and so I shall now retire to my couch to enjoy it thoroughly myself with a cup of tea on an unseasonably cold summer’s evening – which seems fitting. xx
Congratulations! It was a pleasure to read.
Coming as it did during a particularly breath-taking, watermain-busting and school-closing cold snap here in Ontario, your essay made for the perfect start to a day of knitting and dog-cuddling in front of the fireplace. Congratulations.
I thought your piece was beautiful. I was only sad that it ended! But, I found your blog through the look book so I’m looking forward to reading more from you. Thank you for sharing in such a wonderful way.
It was no surprise to me that Jared Flood asked you to write an essay. Frankly, I’m surprised that publishers aren’t beating down your door! I’ve been moved to tears, bellylaughs and deep contemplation many times in the three years that I’ve been reading your blog. I’ve pointed many people who aren’t knitters to your blog so that they might regale in your prose and I come to your blog for the great turn of language more than the knitting. Congratulations on the recognition you deserve. Can’t wait to read more!
Congratulations from a fan of good editors (they make our work as indexers much easier!), and a lovely piece it is!
As a knitter with a sincere love for words and stories, I too very much enjoyed your essay and am so thankful to Brooklyn Tweed for thereby introducing me to your blog! Congratulations!
I loved your essay, it has filled my heart.
I’ve been following your blog for years and I’ve always loved your writing and your knitting. I was thrilled to see your piece in the BT look book. It was so beautifully written. Congratulations!
I have enjoyed your writing for many years, and your essay was no exception. Such a lovely tribute to winter and knitting. Looking forward to more!
Wonderful! I’m happy for you, and I’m happy for us! Off now to track down your words in BT.
I thought the voice in the BT look book sounded familiar and I was so happy to connect that with you. I’ve loved reading your blog for quite some time. Thank you.
Wonderful – your writing is superb !
Back to say I have read the essay and it’s wonderfully written, so evocative and satisfying. .. . Brought me back to my own memories of learning to knit as a child and of teaching my own. . . Next up, my five-yer-old granddaughter . . .
Moments of Crystal shining through the page, such do I feel this winter’s eve after reading your piece. Thank you.
Sarah! A bushel of congratulations, and richly deserved! I hope to read much more of you in the wide world in the future.
Congratulations! A well-deserved opportunity 🙂
You are probably going to be overwhelmed with comments now that Brooklyn Tweed has posted your essay, so I thought I would get in quickly. I am adding you to my blog list (which I try to keep very short)–you have to either be a friend or a very talented writer or photographer of knitting to make it onto my list! I grew up in Pennsylvania and now live in Eugene, Oregon, so I loved the descriptions of both places. I look forward to reading more of your work. Oh, yeah, right, and looking at your gorgeous knitting.
What a pleasure to read your lovely, leisured essay on a quiet morning in my quiet house as the snow tumbles down and my family is sleeping or away fulfilling their dreams. To add a layer of warmth to my appreciation, a newly-developing friend shared the BT Lookbook with me on Facebook, so that connection warms me further. Thanks.