First Rose (Just Start)

comments: 45

Firstrose Gosh, well you guys took yesterday's admission really, really well -- thank you for understanding! -- though Blair was a little disappointed at the degree of difficulty of that whole confession, which I thought was very nice of her. I'll admit maybe I was a tad dramatic. But that is my special Alicia way.

Nevertheless, I started thinking about creative blogs in general last night, and what I like about them. What I like about them most of all is how you can ultimately, eventually, "hear" people in them, maybe even hear them in a way you wouldn't necessarily hear them in real life, somehow, and watch their travels near and far. Don't we read novels for the same reason -- to find out how it was for them? To see how it was, might have been, maybe will be for us? I want to know. And my favorite blogs are not the ones that are most pretty, or informative, or most prolific -- they're the ones that have a voice. The ones where the people behind them sort of shine past the photos or the punctuation and grammar (so what about that anyway -- never let that stop you) or the crafts or any of that stuff -- I like voices. I like thinking, "Oh, she's gentle, " or "Bah! She's hilarious!" or "Wow -- how thoughtful," or "Mmm -- I see now," when I hear people -- and then I like it when those impressions grow and layer, like puff pastry, into something thrilling and full. I like watching people discover things, I like how the blog changes and develops by sheer virtue of  its happening at all, those magic moments when someone discovers something, understands something. When I used to write short stories, there would often be this point when the magic happened. You'd be writing (hammering) along, thinking you were going in one direction, when all of a sudden you'd feel this force enter the room, and you'd be channeling instead of writing, the way made clear, the old ideas suddenly facile and incomplete, the new ones crystallizing ahead of you as you scribbled to keep up. Then: You've gotten to somewhere new, a place you don't know, you can't know, when you start.

Have you ever read people's first blog posts? The stilted, brittle "Well, here I go, I don't really know where to start, er. . . . Is this thing on?" Every single one I've ever read feels like that, though in no time, the endeavor seems to find a rhythm, however shallow at first, and a momentum that encourages its author to continue, audience or not. An audience is nice, though it's not about that. (And, weirdly, there always is an audience, no matter how small or invisible, which I find strange and fascinating and reassuring -- you are not alone.) But a private notebook works, too.

Audience or not, I think there is every reason in the world to do it, just to see where it goes -- take a crap picture, take a good picture, don't take a picture, say something stupid, say something smart -- who cares. It's all for you, baby. It'll be whatever it is. Your job is to follow it, and see what happens. If it winds up meaning anything to someone else, that's a gift you can't expect, nor can you let it intimidate or particularly encourage you. How you distill it all is still a decision left up to you, yours fully. Annie Dillard, in my favorite book about writing (but to me it's also about all forms of creativity and expression), The Writing Life, says that putting a book together is "life at its most free. Your freedom as a writer is not freedom of expression in the sense of wild blurting; you may not let rip. It is life at its most free, if you are fortunate to be able to try it, because you select your materials, invent your task, and pace yourself. . . . The obverse of this freedom, of course, is that your work is so meaningless, so fully for yourself alone, and so worthless to the world, that no one except you cares whether you do it well, or ever."

I've always believed that everyone can write -- if they want to. I absolutely dread the title "Writer" when it's used to exclude or separate people, as if it were something special, like "Trumpet Player." Not everyone can play the trumpet (though of course, what's to stop you from trying, nothing, except needing a trumpet) but everyone has a pen and a piece of paper and a dictionary. And what is beautiful about writing is just that you've done it -- though you do have to actually do it, you can't just intend to do it. And many, many books have been written about how to get the marks to the page -- therein lies the rub! But that's why it's called "writing" and not "thinking." There's a difference. Annie says:

     "Every morning you climb several flights of stairs, enter your study, open the French doors, and slide your desk and chair out into the middle of the air. The desk and chair float thirty feet from the ground, between the crowns of maple trees. The furniture is in place; you go back for your thermos of coffee. Then, wincing, you step out again through the French doors and sit down on the chair and look over the desktop. You can see clear to the river from here in winter. You pour yourself a cup of coffee.
     "Birds fly under your chair. In spring, when the leaves open in the maples' crowns, your view stops in the treetops just beyond the desk; yellow warblers hiss and whisper on the high twigs, and catch flies. Get to work. Your work is to keep cranking the flywheel that turns the gears that spin the belt in the engine of belief that keeps you and your desk in midair."

The chasm between thinking about doing it and doing it is huge. And small. Writing is just like making things, and making things -- making dinner, a dress, a garden, a letter, a sock, a fun afternoon -- is magic. Unmysterious magic -- you just do it. Crank the flywheel. If you want to paint, get a paintbrush. If you want to make a stuffie, get some wool felt (or, hell, some acrylic -- just get some). If you want to write, get a pen. Do something, anything new that you've always wanted to do -- even something that you don't even know you want to do yet. Who knows what you will discover? Play tennis. Get a dog. Learn to surf. Crochet one granny square. Do another one. Start a blog. When that gets boring, pick something else. Leap. No one will care if you don't.

There you go. A toe touched down on the other side. Get ready to take off again; you're flying now.


This is a great post, Alicia.

This might sound weird, but reading this made my milk come in (just had a baby 11 days ago). Music can do the same thing. Weird, huh? I also, got a little teary at the end. God, do I sound postpartum, or what.

I've lurked around your online store for ages and only recently discovered your blog. Now I look forward to reading it regularly!

What a lovely passage you've written. There definitely is a difference between thinking about doing it and just plain doing it. Many writers - including some of the most successful ones - talk about how exhausted they are when they start writing a new work. Their insecurities, their fears all come flying at them. But when I read a good novel or story, it's like you said, it's a gift. It's wonderful.

What a wonderful blog for today Alicia. I am glad you did one today, for I so miss it when you miss a day.... right now this is my break from painting my room... I just finished sanding 2 walls and needed a break... my arms are killing me... but boy my room will look good when I am
Anyway, you now you are very inspirational.. I know it is in everyone to do what ever they want to do, they just need to do it... I think that is the case for a lot of things.. and then there is my small blog... (let's not go there.... I try to remember to keep up with it : )
I know your blog is a wonderful thing... and thank you for the lovely message for today!

Thank you for my daily serving of Alicia, you are such a cutie. And as for yesterday, I wouldn't have you admit to a cleaning lady with any less drama, grace, or style. Not for a minute.

I'm going right now to embroidery "Craft Whore" on some white tea towels I've had, just waiting around for the right thing. I'm also going to go google c.w. right now and see if you show up. xo

What a wonderful post. It reminded me of an interview I saw with Mike Meyers (the comedian, not the killer from the Halloween movies). He was talking about his days on Saturday Night Live and how Tuesday was the day they wrote the show. And many Tuesdays...he just didn't feel funny. The interviewer asked how he got over that. He replied that he didn't. He wrote. Whether he felt funny or not. Whether it was working or not. He did it anyway. I loved that. It didn't matter how talented or funny he all came down to letting go doing it. Just like the rest of us.

I love this post very much. Next time I sit at the monitor trying to think of what to write or if anyone really cares, I will read this post for a happy dose of blog cheering.

I wrestled with this at first with my blog.Trying too hard is one of my faults.I didn't know whether to make it a 'mummy blog', a 'crafty blog' or a 'vintage blog'.In the end I think I'm all these things and just being who I am has given me a sense of freedom. I just love having somewhere to express myself to make notes of things that matter to me.If people like reading it aswell and take the time to comment well that's just the icing on the cake.
BTW I love the way you write like we are all your friends it's great to feel so welcome.Big thanks:)

Great, great post! I just started blogging (how addicting!) and my goal, besides organizing my projects, was to develop my own voice in my posts. I wanted it to be a reflection of me...that is why I enjoy reading through many's a way of seeing all the different personalities out there.

thank you for that inspiring post! it's funny how synchronicitous things can reading this post at a time where i think a lot about an idea but don't actually do it. love your beautiful blog...i've been a fan for a few months and am finally stepping out to say hello and thanks!

That was a superb Mother's Day gift (I am reading it on Sunday), thank you. Thank You.

"He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist."
-St Francis of Assisi

Wonderfully said.


I haven't read your blog for a while. . .trying to stay off the computer a bit : ) boy have I missed it. Your 'voice' is addictive.

Thank you for the picture from Portland, lived in Vancouver for 28 years.

Still laughing about the carpet and the 'vomitorium'. My boyfriend and I have uh. . .several (5!) cats and our home is mostly hardwood and tile with a bit of blue carpet in the bedrooms. BUT the cats MUST choose the square of ivory carpet in the living room to puke hairballs on!!! It is a conspiracy I am certain.

It must be an interesting feeling to know that you've just inspired every last one of us to go back and read post numero uno, and feel a little embarrassed & and also a little proud. And also impressed by how right you are!
I adore your blog... it is an unadulterated pleasure.

Tiffany says: May 13, 2006 at 04:27 PM

This is probably the most inspiring blog post I've ever read. Thank you!

thanks for a great entry. I have enjoyed reading your blog from the early days and I love how your writing reflects who you are

I think my problem with you ... and yes I DO have one ... is that you are just overwhelmingly incredible. You are sweet and kind and funny and talented and creative and a good writer and a great sew-er and a delightful crafter! It is all so overwhelmingly fabulous.

So there, that is my problem with you! You are an incredible inspiration! Of course it IS a problem that I am all too happy to have!!

Very well said, Alicia. I've just started my blog and (even though I have just a few entries) it's satisfying to choose a subject and write about it. Years and years ago I kept journals; a blog is the same but in a different format. I'm sure I'm on the way to becoming addicted to it!

susanna says: May 13, 2006 at 08:30 PM

Now THAT was a really good.

The reason I started my blog was so my family & friends could keep track of what I was doing, we are spread out all over the world. It's much easier than sending pics to everyone separately, I do try to be polite in my writing, in real life I do swear quite abit more :). Then there is the problem, that if I wrote how we speak to each other I don't think anyone else would understand, we have our own language mix of English, Swedish & computer lingo, that might explain the weird looks we sometimes get when we are out & about.

Thank you.

Thanks for that post Alicia! I started a blog a week ago, and was still debating whether or not I should continue. Your blog was one of the ones that inspired me to start my own, and after reading that post, I'm re-inspired to keep going, to keep doing rather than just thinking about doing. Your voice comes through your blog, and rises above all the pictures (although I love seeing them too!), and I'll be keeping you in mind as I struggle to find my own style.

Beautifully said, as usual. "The chasm between thinking about doing it and doing it is huge. And small." When that chasm paralyzes me I remind myself that 90 % of it is just showing up, getting moving. My mother, who saw my tendency to freeze, and procrastinate put it this way "Do something Annie, even if it's wrong" I still say it to myself almost every day. I've never had a good idea while I was waiting for one; the interesting stuff has always flowed out of some kind of action or effort, even if that effort was as small as scribbling. Twyla Tharp has a great book called "The Creative Habit" that's full of incredible exercises, tools, and rituals that foster creativity.

Fantastic post. I just went back and re-read my first blog entry, and you are so right. There is something to be said for just doing it, just writing, just making those curtains, just whatever. Thanks for your words!

Thank you so much. I am going to share the link to this post on my own blog. It's better than anything else I've read recently about inspiration and allowing the creativity to happen. Your blog has become a daily treat for me. It's like unwrapping a particularly beautiful piece of candy -- and then getting to taste it too! Thank you!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at