Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Crochet, corals and the Game of Life.

I'm writing a novel again this year for NaNoWriMo and I thought I'd do at least one blog post about it.

This year feels different. For one thing it's my second time participating. It's not new anymore but it's still pretty exciting, if not more. I went all out buying an expensive new leather chair with memory foam (which I'm not even using a whole lot for writing) for the occasion and made myself a crochet viking hat which will, now and forever, be my official NaNoWriMo writing hat. It's different too because I'm going about it differently, applying what I've learned from last year. It's a little easier and a lot more relax. I've thought all year long about the story I'm writing now, jotting down notes, allowing myself to be flexible and to replace an idea with an even better idea if one came up. I did a lot of reading and applied research. And also I'm not always going back to read what I wrote. I remember last year I spent a lot of time, too much time in fact, doing just that. Time that could've been better spent. I'm not fighting with writer's block quite as much either because when I hit a snag, I go and do something else. I know my brain is still working in the background thinking the block over and I have a backup creative activity to keep that part of the brain constantly working.

I learned how to crochet about a week before NaNoWriMo. And to adopt the old cliche, I am now completely hooked. And while I was crocheting hats and flowers, I began to realize something. Crochet is a pretty good analogy to evolution. I remember reading a book (I think it was Dawkin's "The Greatest Show On Earth") where the author made an analogy of evolution with cooking, describing how our DNA was like a recipe. The recipe analogy is ok. But it would have been better if Dawkins had tried his hand at crochet. And then the analogy in the book might have been different. All it takes for this activity is a single strand of material and a crochet hook and from these two simple elements and instructions, just like in Conway's Game of Life, complexity can arise. Every loop is like a cell. You start with one and when you chain them up it's easy to make just about any shape found in nature. Flowers, leaves, horns for your NaNoWriMo viking hat. I can't help musing over the life mimicking properties of crochet. And I was pleasantly surprised that I'm not the only one who's thought of this too.

After watching that video, I thought I'd begin to crochet my own coral reef. More pictures to follow.

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Oh! And happy Carl Sagan Day!