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What I Learned As A Writer Watching Project Runway…

May 10, 2016

High fashion look.glamor stylish beautiful  young woman model with red lips  in summer bright colorful  hipster cloth


I’m a reality television whore.

I don’t even care I’m telling you either. Yes, I’m highly educated. A feminist. An artist. But there’s just something about reality television that allows my consistently churning mind to turn off for a little bit, kick back with a glass of wine, and RELAX. It’s candy coated, sugary, delicious sweets for my brain. I’m swept away and when I come back, I feel better.

One of my favorite reality shows is Project Runway. Of course, I adore fashion, so besides gawking at the amazing stylish art that is created in a record time limit, I’m amazed at the creative process each of the designers deals with.

At the All Stars finale –I won’t spoil it in case people still have it on the DVR!—three designers created eight looks to make a complete collection. They did it in four days.

I’ve written a novella in a three day weekend. Personally, I’ve visited this hell before and it ain’t pretty. Watching the designers struggle to transition their sketches to reality reminded me of when I have a story so well thought out in my brain, I wish to God I could just tell it to the bookstores rather than actually write it. Because too many times when I commit the words to paper, it’s not what I originally wanted or dreamed of. It’s different. I either have to work with the skeleton I’ve sketched out on paper, tweak my original idea, or make it something else I hadn’t planned on.

Each designer had a unique design process. One painted first, then pieced together the outfit. One liked to create a bit from each outfit and work on them simultaneously. Another needed to complete one at a time in an orderly fashion.

Two designers seemed to embrace their processes wholly and utterly—owning their vision and execution with a determination that came from practice and time and sheer stubbornness. Both of them had done the show before and made it to the finale. Both were back to prove to themselves they could do win.

The third designer seemed to struggle with his creative process a bit more. He’d grown leaps and bounds from his past season, but once he gave up and surrendered to the negative, devilish, whispery thoughts in his head that said he’d LOSE because his outfit SUCKED and why the hell was he going through this crap anyway? He could go home and be happy and leave it all behind because it meant nothing anyway. Right? Right?

He walked away. But he came back. He had no choice because design was the driving force of his soul, and it was time he just accepted it and give in and give up.

He did. He finished a gorgeous collection. He proved what could be done, and learned the win wasn’t necessarily the prize money –like publication, and endless followers, and a movie deal, and FAME.

It was about his collection and how he loved what he put out into the world.

Some of the judges loved it and were very encouraging. One was extremely harsh and a tad cruel. She called herself honest, but I winced when she uttered some of her comments. You could tell he wanted to argue and defend. You could also tell when he accepted her words with a nod of the head and thank you, but his eyes told a different story. His eyes gleamed with his own rebellion, because deep down, he loved what he had done, and if he had to do it over, he’d do the same damn thing.

That’s power.

What did all this remind me?

Besides to dress better and somehow get invited to one of those cool fashion shows, it reminded me it’s about the book. The art. The product.

The win is wonderful. We go for the win, and there’s nothing wrong with it. But the REAL win is what we have created through our determination and blood and sweat and tears. When the new release erupts into the world, and butterflies take flight in my stomach, and fear of the unknown assaults me from all angles, I go back to the book.

Did I do the best I could? Did I write a great story? Did I do everything in my power to make it great and try to reach readers?

If it’s a yes, then I did my job. I can sleep at night. I can be proud of my art.

Next stop?

Project Runway!

Sigh. But first I have to go put on shoes….


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