Isabel Allende has many fans, though I’m not among them. Nonetheless, I did stop to scan a short article she’d written for AARP Magazine. (“Beads, Books and Bijoux,” by Isabel Allende, AARP, Dec 2015/Jan 2016, pgs. 60-61.) In it, she reveals that creating jewelry enhances her writing. In fact, the two activities are so connected in her mind, she engages in both in the same space. The computer occupies one half of her workroom and the paraphernalia of her craft, beads, wires, and tools, are strewn across a long table in the other.
I’m amazed she finds time for bead work. Today, I spent half my morning working with my web manager, setting up another episode of “Just Read It,” the book review program I co-host with Susan Stoner. Other mornings, I struggle to keep up with emails, negotiate the occasional book or short story contract, monitor the social networks I’ve joined and attempt to stay current with innovations computer programmers insist will enhance my writing. (Blog 1/18/16)
That Allende finds her bliss working with beads, some so small they could pass for a nanochip, gives me insight into our differences. I’ve taken a couple of jewelry classes and found them to be as relaxing as teaching grammar to fourteen-year- olds. The beads spill; or are so tiny, I can’t see them; or they stick to my fingers just as I’m attempting to slip them through a thread; or I can’t find the necessary matching bead; or I stab myself with a sharp tool. Worse, after all that struggle, I hate what I’ve done and allow the baubles to scatter.
I respect anyone with an eye for detail, but there is a level of minutiae, like the instructions for assembling my computer, for which I have no aptitude. Stringing beads is where Allende and I must part. Still, I give her one point. Crafting a sentence word by word to create harmony with the whole is a little like jewelry-making.