How to Write a Book

I must start by saying that you have totally made my day.  I have a tendency to second guess myself, and I get the occasional ‘helpful’ email or ravelry message explaining that my pattern names are hard or ugly or just plain weird and suggesting that I fix them.  I have, so far, politely declined to do any such thing.  I like my pattern names, and it is tremendously heartening to know that you feel the same way.  Eclectic it is.  And with that, it feels like a good time to update you a bit on the progress of Book the Second.

In order to do that though, I need to explain a bit about how to write a book.  Or at least how I write my books.  There’s likely another and much better way to do it that you should employ if you ever decide to undertake such an endeavor.

Step one is to come up with a theme.  For me, this is the easy bit.  I have a list of about half a dozen ideas, any of which could easily turn into two or three different books.  I’m a big fan of themes.  Dinner parties are easier if you have one (seriously, try food of your childhood–complete with cafeteria style divided trays–and watch otherwise sensible adults dissolve into fits of giggles at the sight of a tater tot).  I see no reason for this not to hold true for pattern collections.  Last time it was oriental rugs, this time it’s something else entirely.

Step two is to daydream shamelessly for a while.  Completely ridiculous and impractical ideas are encouraged (hey, what about a pop up book…or what about this thing with a small wind up mouse).  At some point in this process, the reasonable and feasible ideas will come to the surface.  This time I realized I wanted to do both socks and accessories, and that about 10 of each seemed like a manageable number.

Step three involves intensive swatching, doodling, leafing through magazines, perusing of stitch dictionaries, and contemplating of yarn.  The goal is to get the basic idea for each of the projects well enough sorted out that you can select the appropriate yarns.  It’s actually a bit harder than it sounds.  You’ve got to figure out colors and weights and textures that work with the projects and look good together, all the while keeping in mind cost and availability and other such practical matters.  When I do it, there are an awful lot of lists and charts and little piles of yarn scattered all over my office.  The cats love this stage.

Step four is to actually get the yarn.  This can also be harder than you’d think.  Sometimes the color you have your heart set on is discontinued, sometimes the base you want isn’t available for six months, sometimes it a particular yarn or company just doesn’t work out and you have to find a substitute.  It all eventually gets sorted, and you find your mailbox filled with a lovely stream of soft fluffy packages.

Step five is the fun part, writing down the patterns.  There’s really not much to say about this bit.  It involves a lot of swatching (yes, again) and a lot of math.  A truly unreasonable amount of graph paper gets wadded up and tossed across the room in frustrated disgust.  But eventually, they’re all done.

That’s where I am now.  I’ve now officially finished the last of the patterns for Book the Second.  Now this does not mean that the book is nearly done.  There’s still introductory and instructional text to be written, items to be knit, tech editing to be done, photos to be taken, layout to be designed, and a truly astonishing number of other things to be done.  But I found last time that the whole process could get a bit overwhelming.  It seemed like I never really took the time to mark the milestones along the way.  This feels like it should be a milestones.  All the yarn is arranged and all the patterns written.  It’s not done, but it is well underway.  And really…it’s going to be awesome!