Some people have religion, I have work. It doesn't have to be actual writing. It's busy fingers, absorbed mind, concentration on something outside of me, like DOMESTICITIES -- that scratch on black linoleum I'm going to try and wax away -- and MENDING -- the collar on JC's grey NYC Opera sweater-shirt. It needs to be re-sewed on the sewing machine.
It's is a 9610 Industrial Singer my father gave me -- once upon a time it was a machine in his children's dress factory. (There's a bit about that machine In "Heart City," page 188. ) I learned to sew when I was in grade school. Bought a pattern, suffered with the instructions and laying out the rebellious tissue paper pieces, but made an old-fashioned dress with a bustle to wear for a Thanksgiving assembly program.
First costume I ever made ... no inkling did I have, that my sewing would turn into making costumes for a dance company of six. In the beginning I had to. We didn't have enough money.
I made a green shirt for JC in our early courtship days, a birthday present, which he wore to an audition and got the job -- $22.50 week doing a play in a very tiny theater (before there was an Off Broadway.) My work on that shirt won me love.
But here's the real reason work is what I'm preaching as my fingers fly today over the keys. When you get an idea, enough of an idea to put into a sentence that you can immortalize by typing it out -- that's a Wow! You're excited, amused, full of trepidation. A vision, a hope, a dream is born. It's something to reach for that's better than reaching for a star because you can get there, touch it, grab it. Use it.
Layering that first sentence; expanding it and shrinking it, explaining it to someone -- you've started down the road on a walk that will probably become an adventurous long trip.
You work not for money, not for winning, just work for the work of it. It's like crocheting. With a Queen Ann Tablecloth pattern that I got from a HOW TO CROCHET book, I used crocheting to keep me busy on the bus trip I made every day to a hospital in the Bronx when Mom was there for a month. It turned into a sixty-four doily tablecloth for the dining room table.
Intricate stitching, six chains, loop and go back, pearl three, loop four, double-stitch, triple-stitch -- it's not much different from making a plot, thinking up, crocheting, creating characters, (175 for Cordelia's story in "Somebody"), or in my plays, other books -- creating a triple-stitched background for every character.
I love that! I love the infinity that's in the work of my work.