Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My First Quilting Retreat, or "My Life is Really About Books"

So this past weekend I went on my first weekend quilting retreat. This is just what it sounds like- a three-day weekend at a retreat center (in this case the Ladore Center in Waymart, PA) where we set up our machines and spend every waking moment sewing.

My work table at the retreat
It was pretty great for the most part. I didn't bring enough to do, or all the right equipment, so I was having some struggles, but it was great to meet folks from the guild I'm joining in the fall and and reconnect to my craft. (If you want to read a more detailed post about the retreat go here to my craft blog.) And I made the progress I wanted to on a quilt.

That said, it was truly bizarre for me to be in a big group of people who were passionate about something besides books. Not unpleasant- just unusual.

My quilt top, which I have to fix a little!
I've been to a lot of conferences over the past 15 or so years- longer if you count the writing conferences I went to in my 20s. But every conference I've been to has been about books, whether it be libraries, writing or the book industry more broadly (like BEA or Readercon or the day-long events I would go to as a bookseller). This was literally the first time in my life I was with a group of people who did not want to talk about books or reading. Sure I could make a little bit of small talk about it trying to get to know people but there were a lot of blank looks.

I guess I should have expected this, and it's not like I had a bad time (I had a great time). But it taught me that while I love to sew, sewing isn't my life- books are my life. I've struggled a lot to find a niche here in NYC and I was kind of hoping sewing might be it, so I could just give up on the book world.  But alas no. I need to reconnect with the book community, big time, because being away has left a big big hole in my life. This probably means being more aggressive, and more flexible, about getting a job in a bookstore, or maybe with one of the many cultural centers here in NYC doing something book-related. Maybe it also means redoubling efforts here on my blog. Or both. Anyway it was a useful thing to learn and I'll see what I can do going forward to make my life "all about the books" once again.

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