The last few months have felt like the rising sap of spring.
Janet and I launched the Handweaving Academy in December, to great success – over 500 people have signed up already! After an intense year of preparation, that feels just amazing.
Now, of course, we need to deliver on our promises – but fortunately, there are two of us to write all that content. And we are already working on adding other teachers. While we’re working hard, I’m down to working six days a week, and only about 7-8 hours a day. That is way less than I’ve worked any time in the last six years. Having a business partner I trust is fantastic – I know Janet has my back, and I have hers.
Jamie is also (finally!) most of the way through her transition. It’s been a really tough 4-5 years, as the physical and emotional changes associated with hormonal transition, coupled with the need to retool her entire identity, have been really tough on both of us. (It’s called “second puberty” for a reason!) Nonetheless, she’s figured most of it out, and the mood swings have mostly calmed down. Life has a LOT less stress now, for both of us.
Which is why I actually picked up a novel AND read it all the way through! earlier this month. Not only did I read the first book, but I actually devoured the entire rest of the trilogy and am halfway through with another series by the same author. This is the brilliant N.K. Jemisin, and the trilogy is The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate, and The Stone Sky. Every book in the trilogy won the Hugo Award, one of science fiction’s greatest accolades. No one else has ever done that, or won the Hugo for three years in a row. (The Stone Sky won the Hugo AND the Nebula award – the other big prize in SF.)
Anyway. More important than the awards (which are just someone else’s opinion, after all) is the fact that Jemisin managed to suck me so deeply into the book that I read practically the entire thing in one sitting. This, from someone who hasn’t read fiction in about twenty years. And then I read the next one. And the last one. And now I’m diving into a new series.
What I love about Jemisin’s work is that the plot is NOT the typical science fiction plot (sometimes it feels like there’s only one of them), nor does she write books that reflect white middle class American values and assumptions. Her books explore a lot of deep themes, like slavery, racism, and hatred – not in a bash-you-over-the-head moralistic way, either, but with questions unfolding along with the plot and characters. Like Octavia Butler, my other favorite science fiction writer, Jemisin is a Black woman and brings those questions and experience to her writing.
I think she is one of the best writers I’ve ever read. (Now binge-reading her work, of course.)
Anyway. There are two great joys here. One is that I’ve discovered an amazing writer and am reading fiction again. The other is that I have time and emotional energy to be reading again. The last five years have been so stressful and hard-working that there was no space for that kind of luxury. Everything was focused either on Jamie’s transition or on building the teaching business. So to have the mental space and time to be reading again feels like a seismic shift.
I’m also weaving again for the first time in a long time. I took a piece off the Workshop Dobby Loom a few weeks ago. It’s simple but also beautiful, and I just love it:
Neither of these photos really captures the beauty of it, though. It’s a continuous gradient that goes from blue-green through blue to purple and back again twice over the course of the shawl. Design-wise, it’s simple but beautiful. I’m really enjoying it.
It has really been hard not having the energy to weave. When I went to start the Handweaving Academy, I chatted briefly with Linda Ligon, the founder of Interweave (and Handwoven magazine). She thought it was a wonderful idea but warned me that when she founded Interweave Press, she rapidly found that she herself had no time to weave. And that if I followed that path, I’d likely have much less energy to create my own work.
And that’s largely been true, not just this past year but the last six years. Do I miss weaving? Yes. I opened the latest Complex Weavers Journal yesterday and found it full of fascinating, in-depth explorations of the many things that are possible with a loom. I used to have the concentration and the leisure to do work like that, and I miss it.
But teaching weaving is incredibly rewarding as well. I LOVE what I do – both the teaching and figuring out the logistics of running a teaching business. I’m not sorry I went in this direction, but I’m grateful to finally have time and space – even if it’s only a tiny bit – to explore my own weaving again.
So like I said: it feels like spring!
And if you’re wondering about the weasels? I’m recovering from a minor injury (strained adductor muscle in my right thigh) so I’m off squats and deadlifts and anything else leg-related for the next few weeks, alas. (First session with the physical therapist on Tuesday.) However, no rest for the wicked – my trainer has me working on upper body stuff for the next few weeks!
Which is good, because I’m rather enjoying the She-Hulk look.
Hello Tien. So great to hear all your news. The shawl is beautiful. And now a I want to read a book by Jemisin!!