I never said I wanted to be an astronaut.

Nor a nurse, a teacher or President of the United States.

I only ever said I wanted to be a writer when I was a kid and somebody asked. Because that's what I wanted.

Until college, that is, when they beat the fear of astronomical-odds-of-success into me.

That's why it was so much fun for me to meet someone who beat the odds and was living my dream, the night we had dinner with The Novelist (who asked me if I considered myself to be an artist. Remember?)

On our vacation, we decided to take his book along to read aloud on the drive.

And we really enjoyed it. (For the record, I do consider him to be an artist.)

It was a good story with some truly impressive writing.

After we were a couple of chapters in, I said to Russ, "We're not smart enough to have dinner with this man."

And he answered, "Too bad because we already did."


But I'm still convinced that my kids can grow up to be whatever they want to be. So when Hannah told me she wanted to submit a poem to "The New Yorker" (it's a really good poem) I told her to go for it.

I have my own "New Yorker" rejection letter. I think every wannabe writer probably does. (Except, of course, for the ones who have copies of "The New Yorker" that they were published in.)

Well I'm not actively seeking a writing career at this time, so I don't expect any editors to be calling me to offer a book deal.
(note: if you are an editor reading this, please don't hesitate to call. I'm willing to entertain all offers.)

But that doesn't mean I can't take a book tour.

Someone asked me awhile ago what some of my favorite needlework books are. So I thought that perhaps we should all take a book tour (or two).

And I decided to start with a tour of my all-time favorite needlework book -- the book that is probably directly responsible for the medium I'm working in now, and one that I continue to turn to for inspiration.

"Celebrating the Stitch" by Barbara Lee Smith

I bought this book at the bookstore in the Art Institute of Chicago on a whim one day a good 15 years ago -- I hadn't paid much attention to fiber art (aside from traditional quilting) but for some reason it caught my eye and I took it home and then took it to bed with me every night for months after.

There are so many reasons I love this book. The quality and variety of work is remarkable.

"Tea Time", Renie Breskin Adams

"Absence of Mind" (figure #30), Keiko Yamaguchi

I first met some of my favorite artists in its pages.

"Graffitti: Still Life", Mary Bero

"Ideogram", Mary Bero

"Head with Braids", Mary Bero

"Terror Sampler II", Caroline Dahl

"The Will to Dress", Caroline Dahl

"Four Faces of Skwabby", Caroline Dahl

"Noah's Ark", Sally Mavor

"Picking Peas", Sally Mavor

"One More Little Shove", Darrel C. Morris

"Helen, Side One", Maribeth Baloga

"Helen, Side Two", Maribeth Baloga
Yes, they are front and back of the same piece. Which completely blows my mind. No one will ever photograph (and certainly will never publish) the back of one of my pieces! Maribeth, I salute you.

There are also all kinds of other useful tidbits in this book. Instruction pages are interspersed throughout,

as well as needlework history,

inspiration, interviews and ideas from artists, process details, working drawings, etc.

If I could only own one needlework book, this would undoubtedly be it. You can probably find it at your library, and it would be well worth the trip to look.

I wish I had written it myself.
Or maybe I wish I were in it.

And now I'd like to see some hard data about what percentage of people grow up to be what they said they wanted to be.

I'm beginning to think perhaps I should have looked into a career in statistics . . . or maybe embroideries about statistics . . . or maybe writing about embroideries about statistics . . .


Mandi said...

Susan - I am all for the worlds of embroidery and statistics colliding! Speaking as an amateur statistician, I believe a good chunk of the pie should be devoted to teachers. Some of us knew our calling early on. With much affection for you and your work - Mandi

susan m hinckley said...

Well how nice to hear from you, Mandi! And how lucky we are that there are teachers like you (who happen to love embroidery) in the world who were willing to pursue their dreams and become what they wanted to be -- you have my sincere appreciation!

Allie said...

I wanted to be a writer too - after all, my dad named me Allison McKenzie after the character on Peyton Place, who was a writer, lol. And I do have a manuscript in the Library of Congress [doesn't that sound impressive?] All it means is my cousin, the patent attorney, copyrighted it for me. My second desire was to be a teacher - and I AM! Of my children at least. Now, I couldn't handle anyone else's.

I'm going to have to see if our library has that book. It looks beyond wonderful.

VO said...

Hmmmmm. I read your blog, am entertained, always learn something and I consider you to be a writer, illustrator, artist.

A word about editors and rejection letters. I know a couple of editors and we don't have the same taste in reading material or what consitutes good writing.

My point is there is an editior that fits you, you just have to find him/her.

You have readers, complete strangers (waving) who check regularly for your content, not just your art but your written word.

I say start taking your blog posts, print them in book format and send it out.

Jake and Chelsea said...

i cannot wrap my head around that front and back piece. it does not make sense. how is that possible? it is not. it has to be the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the embroidery world...

it is amazing.

Amelia and Justin said...

I can say that I officially met my goal of becoming a music teacher. As of Thursday I am a CERTIFIED teacher in Arizona :)

susan m hinckley said...

Allie -- I'm intrigued to know more about your manuscript.

VO -- You have to be the nicest friend I never met.

Chels -- I KNOW, RIGHT??!! So glad somebody commented on the amazingness of that piece. It's always nice to know there are so many areas for improvement in one's work, isn't it?

Amelia -- Almost worth having kids again just so they could have you as a teacher. Congrats! (well, okay, grandkids.)

VO said...

Bwhahahahaha. I'm not sure how nice I really am, but thank you for the compliment. I'm honored.

Hey, you MUST watch this video. Artistic? Creative? Tortured? Everyone should watch it.

whimseycreations said...

Oh love those illustrations!!! I took a class from Sally Mavor and she's an amazing artist. Thanks for sharing - I may have to get that book!

luanne said...

loved the book tour, thanks. how old are those needleworks? some seem pretty contemporary. and the time they must take to create, as you would know well.

i agree with VO, you've got the stuff to "be a writer" because you ARE an amazing writer, you just need to find an editor with a fabulously sophisticated sense of humor (like your susan-nation readers).

wish i'd been driven to BE a something or other. my career ambitions pretty much reflected whatever fill-in-the-blank idea an influential adult threw my way ("you should be a _______ because you're really good at that!") at various points in my young life.

now, middle-aged and occupying my mostly empty nest, i find myself back at square one, again facing those giant ???s for what i'm going to be. and not much closer to the answer, either. -- luanne

susan m hinckley said...

Well I'm sure you've noticed I'm well-stocked in the empty nest angst department myself, so knowing what you want to be early on doesn't necessarily translate to answers later!

And you're certainly right -- the constituents of "Susan-nation" seem as sophisticated an audience as I can imagine. I'm certainly not worthy.

And maybe you should be a photographer because you're really gifted at it! But then you seem to be able to do just about everything. Which really makes this another fill-in-the-blank and therefore not really helpful at all (sorry).

Margaret Cooter said...

I too love this book and have recommended it to so many people over the years. One of my projects (...later...) is to follow up all the artists and see what they did after 1991!

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