Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Why I'm No Longer Writing a Quilt Book



About a year ago to the day, I got home from work and received a phone call. On the other line was a representative of C&T Publishing, letting me know that they were dropping my book contract. At first, I was in total shock; I was 2 months from one of my biggest deadlines. Pen and paper in hand and somewhat in a daze, I jotted down some important info (several authors were being let go due to their downsizing in publishing books [which was later revealed officially in detail by Craft Industry Alliance], it was in my contract that this could happen, and I would receive an official letter in the mail).

Now, I know what you're thinking - you had/have options! You can still publish! Yes, I can. But do I want to? After a few months of considering all the options, I decided: no. Several friends were very helpful and encouraging; they pointed me in the direction of other publishers who might want to pick me up as an author. Otherwise, I could self-publish (there ARE so many options!), bring my books to workshops and lectures still, AND pave the way for others who might want to do the same. That certainly sounded viable.

After some research, time, and lots of thought, I made the decision not to shop around or self-publish for a few reasons. At this particular point in my life, I want to be a more a part of the quilt community rather than the quilt industry itself. Lots of wonderful, talented people make a living in the industry, and I'm so very grateful that it exists. BUT - there's SO much noise out there. I don't want to add another free motion quilting book to the market, another curated ad on your Instagram page, another sale. You might remember back when everyone had a blog, and then so many had a fabric line, or a book. When the latter happened for me, it felt strange and it didn't feel completely right, though I love to teach and write. I should have acknowledged that gut feeling from the beginning.

More specifically, I realized over the last year that I don't WANT my quilting to be my main business right now (maybe I never have, maybe never will), which is why I've been devoting much time and energy to my career in the real world. My "side hustle" and love for quilting don't HAVE to become my main focus or business. Some of the other reasons for not pursuing the book are more personal, and I'm grateful for my friends who have supported me so much in this decision. I wrote this post to bring some light, as so many have so politely and excitedly asked about the book's progress. Thank you! It all has a happy ending! :)

I will be teaching some of the concepts from the book in workshops and sharing these quilts in my lectures on modern quilting and quilt blocks for the rest of the year. I plan to accept limited engagements in 2019, too. I'm still working with quilting companies and utilizing products I love. I'm still blogging (going on 8 years! Is that real?) and still writing The Wonky Press (which is somehow 2.5 years old?). I'm still entering quilt shows and exhibitions here and there. I'm still designing and making quilts (what I love most). But I'm no longer writing quilt patterns and I'm not writing a book at this time. This feels so right to me.

But it seems a shame not to share the quilts that I made for the book - 1. Because they were the bulk of quilt work I did over nearly a year and 2. I'm so grateful to the companies who put their trust in me and gave me materials. I just put the binding on the very last quilt after several slow months of finishing up the details and thinking all the thoughts.

So, this summer, I'll be sharing the body of 6 finished quilts from the book as part of a series on quilting modern quilts! There will be no rush to reveal (roughly every 2-3 weeks, which will take me to September/October), which will give me time to write detailed blog posts on the design and quilting thought behind each one. These are really special quilts to me, and now that they are completely finished, I am excited to share them with you! I also hope to open up some discussion about the modern quilting movement, and to highlight the companies I have had the pleasure of working with. I will also be giving away some goodies! Peek back for an intro post and the first quilt shortly.

I can't end this blog post without thanking a few people. My guildmates and longtime friends of the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild for their continued support and love in whatever I choose to do. Abby Glassenberg, Anne Sullivan, Jenelle Montilone, Jess Levitt, and Lindsie Bergevin for your encouragement and guidance. My family, who has forever been supportive of everything.

Finally, the following wonderful companies provided fabric, batting, and thread to make these quilts possible (I will be sharing more details in each post): Andover Fabrics, Aurifil Threads, Cloud9 Fabrics, Free Spirit Fabrics, Northcott Fabrics, RJR Fabrics, Robert Kaufman Fabrics, and The Warm Company. Thank you so much for your continued support of my quilting and of the quilting community.

I've been quiet on the blog lately, working on finishing the last of the quilts and some other projects. Onward!

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35 comments:

  1. So glad to hear that you have made informed well-thought decisions, yet sad that quilting will not be your main goal any longer. Your quilts are so beautiful. I will stay tuned to see what ever you post. Wishing you the best.

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  2. I am so glad that you were able to get the support that you needed as you considered your options about the best path to move forward. Thanks for the honesty and I am sure that the future holds so many amazing things for you personally and professionally in whatever arena you choose to pursue.

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  3. It was lovely reading your thoughtful and heartfelt post. For just a second I was sad for you but realized quickly how things turned out even better. Thanks for your transparency. Looking forward to seeing your quilts....

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  4. Good for you!! Sometimes we have to really go with what we feel is right, no matter what others tell us. Only you know what works with your life and what makes you happy. Looking froward to seeing your lovely new quilts. x

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  5. What a thoughtful and though provoking journey you have gone on. I look forward to seeing your quilts over the coming months and continuing to read and share in your work.

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  6. Congratulations on making a great decision for you!! It is hard to weigh all those options, but I'm glad you know what is right for you now and go with it. Can hardly wait to see those 6 quilts.

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  7. Brava! It isn't easy to walk away from this amount of work. You have obviously given this a great deal of thought. Women often feel they HAVE to continue to "grow" - but "growing" is so personal and it takes strength to figure out the right "growth". I can't wait to see your quilts and I'm happy for you!

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  8. Thank you so much for this thoughtful post! It sounds like you have really turned this disappointment into a situation where you clarified what you want from your side hustle. I look forward to seeing your quilts!

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  9. I love that you shared this story so honestly. And I CANNOT WAIT to see those quilts. So many solids!!

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  10. Thank you for sharing this, Jessica. The book industry is a funny thing. It's no small thing to find your own path in all the noise. Way to be true to yourself! I will look forward to seeing your special quilts.

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  11. Bummer but oh well. I am sure good things are slated in the future.

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  12. I'm glad you've found a path that makes you happy, Jess. Thanks for sharing your thoughts so honestly. The quilts look amazing and I can't wait to get to see them fully!

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  13. Sometimes it takes a re-evaluation. While I love quilting, I have changed my creative path many times over the years. I do wonder how many quilts is too many? That seems sacreligious in this crowd but I could envision for myself moving into another creative realm in the not near future.

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  14. Thanks for your honesty, Jess. I'm sure this was not an easy decision to come to. I think many of us came to quilting for the community aspect, and in an effort to grow that community, find the worlds of quilt community and quilt industry intertwine. I sincerely respect your decision and can't wait to see the gorgeous quilts that you made!

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  15. Thank you for sharing your quilting journey. Your process and finished quilts inspire me. I am planning to close my longarm business after 18 years to pursue my own interests, possibly teaching.

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  16. Thanks for sharing. It can be hard to admit to ourselves, and even harder to explain to others, that we don't want certain ambitions.
    - drlbennett

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  17. "...the noise out there..." That's very well described. I'm happy for you and your choice. Being part of the quilting industry is a tough thing, being part of this community is surely a more enjoyable way to be. Can't wait to see the quilts you made, that little sneak peak looks amazing!

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  18. As a published book author, I can tell you that you have made the right decision. I'll save the rest of my thoughts for an email that I'll send to you shortly.

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  19. I agree WHOLEHEARTEDLY with so much of what you have said here. For too long, so many of us have been overwhelmed with feeling like we must do this, or must do that...and while your decision started because of some terrible news, the end result appears to have given you a new and improved outlook. Congrats to you, on doing what you need to do for yourself, and your sanity.

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  20. I'm sorry that happened to you--what an emotional rollercoaster! But I'm glad for your happy ending--and can't wait to see more of the quilts! Always, I come for the quilts ;)

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  21. Jessica, you are to be congratulated for your thoughtful, honest appraisal of what is right for you, right now. Longtime blog readers knows they can count on you for honesty and integrity. I look forward to seeing your special quilts as you release them.

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  22. It's so good to read your blog post and know that you have worked through the shock of that phone call and made decisions in a thoughtful manner. I've missed your posts and know that life lived is more important than just looking at what you wish you had done. I look forward to each and every post about your quilts. I'm glad you are still teaching and that you enjoy quilting to the fullest.

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  23. when we were young, i think the saying was if life gives you lemons, make lemonade. i'm sure that that phone call was a bit of a punch in the gut, but i' equally as sure that with your working it out to such a good, healthy, honest place that you're doing all of us a HUGE example of remembering why we quilt in the first place, and where we're trying to go in life in general. thank you, and wishing you lots of joy on your journey. looking forward to whats coming next,
    shoshana

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  24. Well Jessica: The quilts in that photo look amazing so I am happy that you will be sharing them with us. I am happy that you still blog as so many have turned to instagram only and I love the written word. Good luck with your future endeavors both in your job and your sidejob and it sounds like you might be thinking this is a good thing.

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  25. Many years ago I began flying lessons... aviation became a hobby, then a passion, then a part-time job, then a career. While there were many rewards and highlights, I would have served my interests better had I taken time to contemplate deeply how that decision would affect other areas of my life. Loving something you do, doesn't necessarily mean it should be a full-time pursuit — took me a long time to figure that out. My life now is more balanced, with work that doesn't demand my constant availability and thus leaves me time for quilting and music and community participation. Kudos to you for pausing, reflecting, and adjusting your course to meet your own desires.

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  26. What I love best about reading Wonky Press is how many times I have been inspired by your QUILTS - and it has been fun watching you grow and your improv designs grow more exciting. Keeping your art for your joy rather than for "the industry" seems a wise choice! Keep on making for the joy of it - then you are free to follow your own inner guidance, as you have with these decisions.

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  27. Great post. I can't wait to see more photos of your quilts - they look amazing. I'm glad you figured out what is best for you! I enjoy your newsletter btw.

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  28. Thanks for sharing. I'm sure your future holds amazing opportunities for you, both personally and professionally!

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  29. Good for you, Jess! So much of what you said rings true to me. I applaud you for choosing community over the industry and opting not to contribute to the noise (and there is a lot of it). Even after making this difficult decision, there are fabulous quilts to share, and I know I'm not the only one eager to see them. Bring it on!

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  30. Good for you for listening and following your gut. It's hard to do when there is so much pressure and noise to "do the next thing!" always. Can't wait to see your quilts!

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  31. You certainly put a lot of thought into this decision, one that I'm sure wasn't easy. I like how you differentiate between the quilting industry vs. community. I think you really got to the heart of the 2 different sides. For so long, I felt like I was falling behind some of my online quilting friends because they'd made the jump into the industry side of things but you've made me realize that it's okay to stay on the community side and that there is still so much value in it. Thank you!

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  32. Jess, I came to this via Abby's newsletter, and I'm glad for the nudge to catch up on your book situation. I love how candid you always are. Thank you for sharing your experience about your thoughts on the book deal start to finish, the reality check that things can fall through for those who are new to the process, and the refreshing reflection about why you quilt and where your career focus lays. Thanks for a vote for quilt community over quilt commerce for those of us also debating where we fall.

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  33. I know this decision was a tough one, but I'm glad to know you're happy in the path you've chosen. I can't wait to see your quilts revealed. You are such a talented and creative quilter, and whether you are a part of the community, or the industry, that will remain true.

    :) Kelly

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  34. So thoughtful, Jessica. Thank you for letting us into your thought process behind this! Ditto to Diana above, your distinction between quilting industry vs. community is perfect.

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  35. What a wonderfully reflective and positive post. I look forward to reading as you reveal your quilts over the next few months. I move from one lane to the next but always return to quilting. Thank you for continuing to inspire!

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Let's start a conversation! I love comments and I'd be happy to reply to all who have an email address accessible. Thanks for commenting!

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