Thursday, September 22, 2011

What I've Learned from Watching PR

Project Runway Lessons

What I learned from watching this season, so far.

1)      Knowing how to sew helps, but all the knowing in the world won’t make you a good
designer. I mean she really did know how to sew. Her outfits were put together with neat attention to details. She knew all the ‘rules’ …but. Just wasn’t inspirational. Bye, Becky!

How do you use this in writing? Well, you can know all the plot steps of your chosen genre. You can write with dedication and strict attention to the ‘supposed’ to do stuff. And still be completely uninspired. (I didn’t find Becky actually uninspired nor simple, nor plain. But I’m not a judge.)

a)      Now, I’m also trying to learn to sew. Which is why I’ll be in and out today.  I don’t know how to sew. I know terms and I have a basic understanding, because Mom sewed and I grew up with the elements a seamstress surrounds herself with everywhere.

2)      Not knowing how to sew helps, because if you know how to design and know how to figure things out, you can figure out the sewing part.  In other words, if you’re worn beautiful clothing and been interested enough so that you paid attention to how something hangs, how it is seamed, how it comes together…and you are brave, brave, brave… You will go far. (Oompa lumpa, doopity do!) Anya. I really dig this model turned designer. Who didn’t know how to sew six months ago.

Ah! I think I’m like Anya. I hope. I’ve read a bazillion things and paid attention without really  hinking about all the rules or forms or standards. But I know a good story, so I just write and try not to think about everything I don’t know. (Will Anya win? Probably not with Nina Garcia judging.)

b)      Well, as I said, I don’t know how to sew. But I have paid a fair amount of attention over the years  to Mom. (Why can’t certain skills just travel through genetics?) I know fabric. I once managed a fabric store and I still love to wander through fabric stores, touching and admiring patterns, pile, how wonderfully soft some yardage spills through the hands. I’m hoping this knowledge will help me and not get me in trouble.

3)      Being in a rut with how to you put garments together gets boring. (That sorta sounds like number one, but not quite.) I mean Bert. Bert has grown a lot in the weeks so far. Learning how to be more social, not such a snob…got along great with an off-the-street customer. But...he keeps making the same dress. It’s a lovely dress. He tried pants once, but whoa!

Well, let’s see if I can sustain this. You know how to write. You’ve written great things. And people do love what you write. The same people who are perfectly content to keep reading the same story over and over and over. It’s a niche and you fill it. But when challenged to do something different, you struggle. You might throw in a new trope, but in the end…it’s the same story.

c)       Ah, well how often can one make quilt blocks? (No offense, Hellie.)

Okay, crew…we’ve all read these type of writers, and at times we’ve probably all fallen into the traps each of these three present. We are uninspired. We know stories, but technique falls short now and then. We are in a rut…

How do you manage these challenges? Are you watching Project Runway? Who are you cheering for? As the master says, "Make it work!" (Bless you, Tim!)

And yup, my sewing class meets 10-1, so I’ll be here then gone…then back! Since I’m the only leftcoaster of the crew, it may not matter a lot… But I will be back!


2nd Chance said...

And I totally dug last night...liked who was sent home and so glad Anya squeaked through!

Jenny said...

I haven't been watching Project Runway, but I love it. I need to tune in. You made an interesting point about how you didn't find Becky uninspired or simple, which also goes to show how subjective the whole thing is.

Quantum said...

Hello. I'm lost. Can anyone point me towards the pirate writer's blog please?

Oh Chance, it's you. How did I end up in this fashion show?

Oh I get it! This is one of your parallel universes where everyone sows and stitches. LOL

You swap patches to stitch into your plots. A bit of Bosun's crochet to decorate Helli's hot pants.

I think I'm totally out of my depth today. Shouldn't even comment but I can't resist!

When in a rut you gotta think out of the box. Give your mind conflicting concepts say hot pants and a ten gallon hat. It forces your mind to be creative.

Come to think, just visiting this crazy site ought to do the trick.
Especially when Chance is on! :)

Marnee Bailey said...

I don't watch this show. I don't watch any shows, unless you count my daily dose of Jake and the Neverland Pirates or the occasional sporting event. So I have no idea what this all is.

But my mom sews. She's super talented. I, on the other hand, got a different creative genetic make up.

Good luck learning how to sew, Chancey. I'll be back to address the rest of this after school drop off. :)

Donna Cummings said...

P.S. Good luck with the sewing lessons!

Donna Cummings said...

Interesting post, Chance. I don't watch this show, but I see people tweeting about it, and they seem very devoted to it, as well as emotionally vested in the people involved.

I admire anyone who takes on a creative challenge, and gets judged for their efforts. We have to hope the "judges", which in our case will also include readers, are captivated by what we are attempting. At the same time, we have to do what we do without worrying (too much) what the judges will say. Otherwise, we might lose our vision, and our way of doing things.

It's a tough balancing act. :)

2nd Chance said...

Jenny - I seldom agree with the judges and sometimes I think they are so busy being 'clever' with their comments that they aren't even looking at the garments.

I imagine it's the same with some reviewers of fiction...when they find something they can sound clever about whatever might have been sweet in a book is lost in the catty comment.

2nd Chance said...

Quantum! I am vast, I contain multitudes! ;-)

There's a lot of paraleles between sewing a garment/designing a garment and a well written book! Trust me, this comparison works! And we all gots to wear clothing in this world...

A ten gallon hat and hot pants? I think you're getting a little personal there with your...ahem...American fantasies... ;-)

2nd Chance said...

Marn - Hmmmm...well, I imagine putting together a good kids' show is a lot like piecing together a garment...

Though most of these designers can sew, it's the designing that catches them up!

Donna - I think I got caught up in watching this show because of my mother's seamstress abilities... I don't care for the nitter-natter crap, etc. but I do enjoy watching how a garment is put together... Sometimes it's easier to watch it with the sound turned way down... ;-)

Scapegoat said...

Sigh. I love Project Runway and do love Anya - I usually tweet it live with Susan Mallery and some others but last night I was busy and missed it!

I don't know a lick about sewing but I really do want to learn. I've looked into classes at my local JoAnn's if I get some time. HA!

2nd Chance said...

Well, I'm tackling a skirt today, Scape. Bought the fabric, prewashed it, have the pattern cut out. It looks easy... It's a three hour class, if I get the help I need, maybe I'll finish it today?

Ah, if only writing were so easy!

But, if it were...well, we'd all be wearing skirts with elastic waist bands!

I love Anya and do think...wishfully?...that my way of writing parallels her path. (without ever being a model or winning a beauty competition.)

What do you think of Bert? He's sorta my secret crush. I do love that he is opening up!

Scapegoat said...

I like Bert - feel like we are just getting to know him. I do know I hate oliver with a passion.

2nd Chance said...

Ah, you'll enjoy last nights show when you get a chance to watch it... Don't want to spoil it for you!

Bosun said...

If I didn't know better, I'd swear you were drunk when you wrote this. I watch the show so let me see if I can translate.

1.) One contestant could sew circles around the others. Could sew a garment three times in the time it took others to stitch a seam. But her designs weren't up to par and home she went.

You can be a master at stringing together beautiful sentences with perfect grammar, but if you don't have the storytelling skills, the beauty of your prose won't keep the reader with you.

2.) One designer creates beautiful garments on paper, but didn't have the sewing skills to bring them to life. She worked hard for four months before the show and is doing beautiful work now.

If you have the creativity and passion to tell your stories, you can learn how to arrange the words on the page to bring that story to life.

3.) This one's a little harder. One contestant sticks with what he knows. And what he creates is beautiful and well-done. But there's no variety and not much originality.

Write YOUR story, but make sure you're not telling the same story over and over again. Challenge yourself and you might surprise yourself. And your readers.

That's my summary. I had to do that because Chance is SPOT ON with this analogy to writing and I was afraid from the comments her true points got lost. Very insightful. And very true. Amazing how lessons carry over to anything creative.

2nd Chance said...

Hee, hee. Thank ye, Bo'sun. I did know what I wanted to write and thought I got it, but maybe if ya watch the show it comes through better...

And I am 80% done with my skirt! Hope to finish it up at home and will post pics on FB and my blog!

As fer not writing this blog 'zacly right on...yeah, lack of sleep, back pain and editing turns me brain ta mush. I knew what I wanted to say...

Hellion said...

I am so sorry I was horrible and didn't check in, but we had an early morning appt and I didn't get home until 11 pm (no lie!)

I don't watch Project Runway: 1) I am not a fan of reality TV or competition shows; 2) I'm not a fan of models...or designers being they're either so weird about their "art" or they design for well...skinny young men instead of women. (Did anyone watch that Nightline where they showed a transgender male model who dressed as a female model? He was their most sought after female model. Height. Of. Ironic.)

All this aside, awesome, awesome blog! I think your points were well made, even if I'm not sure I agree with all of them. :) In #3, especially, I think some writers write the same core story over and over, which is why their stories can feel "alike", but I don't think it's necessarily bad. I think it's true that writers are writing out their issues, trying to figure themselves out, and it just comes out in bits and spurts in their writing. So even if the core story is the same, I think some new is discovered about themselves with each story, something is there that the reader doesn't necessarily know.

Otherwise, yes, you can be a writer so obsessed with the rules and know how to write, but frankly, you don't know how to tell a story. (A fear I wonder about myself.)

And having belief in yourself and understanding other aspects of the business can be more beneficial to you than necessarily having an MFA in Creative Writing--writing well is about WRITING. You just do it. Bad writing usually stems from that you're either new...or you just don't do it enough to keep sharp. This is a cross-country marathon, not a sprint.

And as for quilt blocks--it depends on the quilt blocks. *LOL* I am making a quilt of the same design; however, there is a very talented quilter who makes pieced blocks that she creates herself, inspired by Harry Potter. So all her blocks are things like potion bottles, Quidditch, Snape, and Fluffy.

And frankly I think I would only be boring if I only made the same design quilt over and over and over. I shouldn't be penalized for having matching quilt blocks for my quilt--I happen to like the pattern it gives me, and as a sewer there is nothing wrong with following a pattern and making it your own. :)

Hellion said...

I understood Chance's blog without Bo'sun's translation. Does this mean I'm drunk?

I still disagree with #3, at least partly. :)

2nd Chance said...

True, if you want to make quilts...then your golden. Though I've seen some awesome items of clothing and other home decor made of quilt blocks!

I think if you can make the 'same pattern' work for you...examine it and finesse it, then #3 can work.

I always see your dad updates on FB, so it's understandable that you were absent today. Glad you did understand the blog, even if you don't watch PR. It's one of the few reality TV things I watch. I like the ones that deal with learning something...and PR has actually taught me a lot about how clothing is put together, etc.

Enid Wilson said...

I don't think we have PR here in Oz. I can do alteration and I've sewn a simple skirt before. But I'm totally uninspired. As for writing, I like challenges. That's why I want to write different genres. Next time, I may try steampunk. Hopefully the readers will read everything I write. *at least I can dream on...

Every Savage Can Reproduce

2nd Chance said...

Enid, does Oz have their own version? So many countries seem to have a version of shows like that...or did we steal it from England in the first place?