For years, in my late teens and early twenties, I carried the following lines by Annie Dillard with me, invoking them in hopes of absorbing the ache of my most wrenching choices: “There are no events but thoughts and the heart’s hard turning, the heart’s slow learning where to love and whom. The rest is merely gossip, and tales for other times.” If the true action, I told myself, was centered in the heart, then I could countenance even the most excruciating doubts, the most embarrassing screw-ups.
Nowadays, I draw, for solace, on another version of this same story: what seems solid, and describable—what’s built, enacted, accomplished—is merely a by-product of what we’re actually creating: the web of relationship. The mesh of knots and bumps and ties weaving us into the cloth of life.
“Text,” I learned in a graduate seminar on Chaucer, stems from the same root as “textile”; those weaving and writing, back in the Middle Ages, saw the commonality between making cloth and making tales. After leaving my MFA program to complete my book by my own lights, I signed up for a weaving class (at the Textile Arts Center, in Brooklyn), so I could bring this link into my body. And, indeed, after that, I began to see revising, editing, and proofreading as stages in the process of creating an ever finer, tighter weave. (The finished book appears to me, etherically, as a sheet of canvas—strong; thick; hard to stretch, harder to rip.)
Currently, my writing enterprise is a sole proprietorship, and therefore has no name but my own; however, when and if I incorporate, I have one picked out: Weaving Spells, LLC. I’m coming to understand that at the intersection of weaving texts and weaving the web of relationships lies the magic, and duty, of weaving the future—in my case, through words.