This post is by Luann Udell, regular contributing author for FineArtViews. Luann also writes a column ("Craft Matters") for The Crafts Report magazine (a monthly business resource for the crafts professional) where she explores the funnier side of her life in craft. She's a double-juried member of the prestigious League of New Hampshire Craftsmen (fiber & art jewelry). Her work has appeared in books, magazines and newspapers across the country and she is a published writer. She's blogged since 2002 about the business side--and the spiritual inside--of art. She says, "I share my experiences so you won't have to make ALL the same mistakes I did...."You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
It’s been a rough month. Knee surgery set me back much, much farther than I reckoned on. Oh, everything is healing fine—I’m actually way ahead in my recovery. But the exhaustion and the resulting lack of motivation is mind-numbing.
Today I’m in my studio, trying to get back in the swing of things. It’s hard. There’s so much to do. Everywhere I look, I see yet another task that begs for my attention. I am excruciatingly aware of how unprofessional my little art biz looks today.
Oh well. I work on one simple order, hoping for more energy later in the day. While waiting for paint to dry, I turn to my desk. I’m determined not to get caught up in email. Maybe I’ll just clear some stuff out, reduce the number of piles that have collected since I last cleaned the studio. At least I can threaten the dust bunnies into submission for a little while longer.
Things proceed quickly at first. Toss, toss, throw in the “file” pile. Toss, toss, toss. I find a dozen pens, a year’s supply of paper clips, my missing stapler. Aha! So that’s where all my scissors went!
Then as the decisions get more complex, things slow down. Business cards, thank you cards, scraps of paper and backs of envelopes with memos and scribbled notes.
At first I grow discouraged. I wish I were more decisive, more brutal in my sorting. Who needs all this stuff??
But slowly it occurs to me that I’m really on an archeological dig. There is meaning attached to so many of the things I’m handling. I begin to savor the memories of each new find.
There’s a bracelet made for me by a friend’s child. Amelia needed jewelry-making lessons for her next Girl Scout badge. I remember the week we spent together making bracelets and earrings for her friends and family. I remember her mom telling me she continues her new hobby. Another craftsperson in the making? I hope so. I put the bracelet in a safe place.
There’s a thank you note from a customer whose necklace I repaired last fall. I’d hesitated when the piece arrived in the mail—it was over a decade old, a style I don’t even make anymore! But it was obvious it had been worn daily and well-loved. I repaired it and sent it back home. “Thank you so much for looking after this necklace!” the note says. I am reminded how much my customers love my work. I set the note aside. Perhaps I should start a file for such notes, to read on bad days….
I find a tiny notebook I used to carry in my purse, one of my countless efforts to be more organized when I’m on the go. I open it to the first page. There, in tiny letters (in scale to the notebook) I find what I wrote on a bad day over three years ago: “I’m scared I’m not good enough…” and a list of all the things I felt I was failing at. Most of them have either disappeared on their own, or I rose to the occasion and mastered them. A few are still in progress.
My first impulse is to tear out those pages. But then I stop, and set the notebook aside, too. I realize that sometimes, in order to go forward, it’s necessary to go backwards for awhile. It’s good to remember that hard times pass, that most failures are a prelude to a new path, a bright new direction.
There. The desk isn’t clean yet, not by any means. But that’s enough time-travel for today. My project is ready for the finishing touches. And once that’s done, I can move on to the next.
One step at a time. One day at a time.
Trusting that tomorrow will be a wee bit better. And if not, well, there’s still the day after that.
Today, for a little while, I’m feeling bigger than my to-do list. And that’s a good thing.