“Sewing Chaos”

Perhaps it’s worth sometimes examining misused words for the considerations they might bring you, as a writer. As a poet. It’s the editor’s job to correct mistaken homonyms, or faulty metaphors, of course, but what if the examination of a mistake fuels other ways to look at something?

I’m currently reading a book that has repeated the same mistake twice so far — this tells me that the author most likely believes the homonym he’s been using shares the same spelling in both cases. The context of the sentences, though, also tells me, conceptually, that he’s looking for a “seeding” metaphor: that of sowing chaos. The evil character referred to in the story is believed to be trying to spread chaos amongst the town’s dwellers.

Yet, the author states that this character is guilty of “sewing chaos” in his path.

A randomly quilted and embroidered section of an American Crazy Quilt.
Close-up from the 1880s Stevens family "American Crazy Quilt." - in The National Museum of American History

My editor’s pencil circles the erroneous word.

But what would “sewing chaos” be like? Here, there could be a new metaphor for someone to entertain.

I picture a helter-skelter quilt, all odd angles and mismatched shapes and textures. The quintessential American “crazy-quilt.” “I meant to do that,” says the quilter. Chaos by design. (See illus. at right.)

But more chaotic, then — I see a desperate, or deliberate, hand reaching out to grab some this, a that and those, and stitching wildly from there to here, “sewing chaos,” with the intention to create a makeshift kind of order. No doubt the stitches stretch at the seams somewhat, for there couldn’t be perfect neatness at such diverse edges, no.

Compare: sowing chaos casts or scatters outward, downward, and plants firmly with the thought to grow up, to multiply. Sewing chaos pulls inward, together, tightens, with a mind to reign in disparate parts.

The sower of pandemonium and disarray would be a character who enjoys destruction; the one who sews it would prefer construction and/or reconstruction.

I won’t erase the circles from around the book’s errors, but I have gained a small pleasure of poetic perspective for myself.

Such musing makes me realize the sewing metaphor might rather accurately describe so many of the events in my life from the past 2 months. I am surely attempting to patch and hem and whipstitch a multitude of dissimilar activities and incidents together to try to control so much unbidden commotion. From travel to multiple illnesses of family members to financial upsets to a whirlwind of artistic pursuits, I have been steadfastly sewing chaos.

In my last blogpost, I mentioned suffering under the worst cold of my life, and while I’m much better now, recovery is still ongoing. During part of that recovery, I’ve also literally been “sewing” — in the sense of weaving and binding together — a series of rustic, golden willow wreaths for bases for floral or other types of wreath-making. I wanted to craft something lasting and useful, and appealingly handsome to me, from the last of the seasonal trimmings of the weeping willow in my front yard. It’s a therapeutic activity for me when I can’t be as active or sharp-brained as I want.

Golden Weeping Willow wreaths in varying sizes arranged against a tapestry chair.
A display sampling of natural, Golden Weeping Willow wreathforms, made by Eve Hanninen, of Thistlehawk Designs.

In case you’d like to see the wreaths, I’ve reopened my Etsy store, Thistlehawk Designs, and have the wreaths up for sale. I’m going to work on designing some decorative willow birdcages, too, for when spring-pruning season comes around.

I didn’t get much writing done during convalescence, but I did manage to retrieve 40 missing file pages from a sequel manuscript that were lost on my old computer, so I’m feeling somewhat prosperous in the creative department this week. That feels a bit like stitching up a chaotic part of life, too.

Guess it’s as true that an unexamined word is not worth using as is the famous quote “an unexamined life is not worth living.” (Socrates, in Plato’s Apology of Socrates)

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